DETROIT - When the market hit the bottom a few years ago, thousands of Detroiters were either forced out or moved out on their own volition. But while they were heading out, Suzanne Scoville was heading in and was determined to make her section of the Motor City a safe and fun place for kids.
The mortgage crisis damn near cleared out entire neighborhoods. The 4100 block of Neff on Detroit's East Side was no exception - but it is also the site of something exceptional.
Ducks. Dozens of them. Roaming free in the large yard created by Suzanne Scoville.
Scoville grew up across Mack Avenue in the Grosse Pointes, which are a couple blocks - and a world away - from her home on Neff. Scoville says she initially got stuck with a bad mortgage, but instead of walking away, she began buying nearby homes to protect her investment.
The move paid immediate dividends for Detroit, as Scoville's gamble helped stabilize her corner of the Cornerstone Village neighborhood. The ducks have helped, too. Scoville raises waterfowl in the area she created by consolidating the backyards of the homes she owns, selling the eggs to restaurants.
Five years ago, she started inviting neighborhood kids into her yard for an Easter party. The idea was to give city kids a taste of the wild. It evolved into a full-blown event that draws dozens of kids for crafts, a good meal, an egg hunt and a chance to hold a duckling. Scoville's friends and family pitch in, and donors too. They all help underwrite the event. CLICK HERE TO BECOME A DONOR.
"You can't change everything about a kid's life, but when I look at this situation, we can throw a party for them where they get fed, they have fun, we have egg decorating, and cookie decorating, they get to do something creative, they get to hold a duckling, get their picture taken, and they learn how to handle an animal, they learn respect for the animal and for life and for nature," Scoville says. "Maybe it's just one day, but a day like that can change their attitude toward life. It can open the possibilities in their mind what they could do. And even if it just says, 'You know what, it can get better. Here's one good day.' And that can be enough to inspire them."
"They don't need every day to be perfect," Scoville said of the city's children. "They need a few good days."