BRIGHTON – After moving to the area in June 2021, Brighton resident Diane Suller was not involved in charity work, so she recently decided to create an opportunity for people to donate money locally by doing “multiple” lunches each week.
“It’s been too long for me not to do what I love,” Suller said of volunteering.
She wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted to do to help when she moved to the Brighton area of Gross Point, so she visited Bountiful Harvest, a local food store, and did a tour.
She asked what the pantry needed, and officials said they could use 200 lunches a week. So Suller began to plan how she would gather so many dinners, where they would be received and how to do it.
Soulliere came up with the plan and set up the link using Sign Up Genius, which allowed people to commit to offering five pre-packaged lunches each week. She disseminated the information by posting a link on various social networking platforms, including the Brighton Happenings Facebook page.
Then she needed a place to gather lunches. Attending various events through Livingston County Girlfriends, she found herself at Two Brothers Coffee Brew & Eatery, in central Brighton.
“Jim and I thought it was a great idea to realize the free space we had in the morning before the night rush hour,” said Nick Manista, manager of Two Brothers Coffee House Brew & Eatery. “It’s a new place for him, so it’s in the running stages, but it’s probably going to be bigger.”
After receiving the green light from Two Brothers, the venture began with the first collection on February 25th.
“I really hope it takes some momentum,” Suller said.
Soulliere encourages people who prepare dinners to give things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, drinks, snacks, a napkin and a promotional note.
Find ways to help others
Suller has been helping the homeless for many years.
In 2010, her son, who was in eighth grade at the time, needed volunteer hours to work as part of his confirmation, the sacrament of the Catholic Church.
Suller’s son and classmates worked for lunch at her home to help them complete their volunteer hours. They collected 150 lunches and drove them to Coplin Elementary School in downtown Detroit. Since then, Suler’s efforts and desire to support the homeless community have continued.
The following year, to support his daughter’s desire to give back, and with the help of volunteers, Suler made 1,000 lunches … and later 1,200 lunches.
“My mother told me when I was little that I was baptized by a missionary priest. I had no idea what my mission would be. I think it changes every day. We made 1,200 (lunches), and we never stopped making them, ”she said.
Suller said she has probably helped make more than 200,000 dinners since 2010.
“At Gross Pointe, I also worked with many schools. (Mother of God) Star of the Sea (primary school), makes more than 1,000 dinners each year. Grosse Pointe North (high school) makes more than 1,000 lunches a year, ”Suller said. “The maximum we’ve ever done at an event was 5,000 (lunches), and I never want to do that again. That was a lot. There were a lot of people, tons of volunteers, and it was hard to find where they were all going to go. ”
In August 2017, after her father died, Suller created the nonprofit organization Love Our Homeless, which fights the homeless in Detroit and suburbs. The group’s initiatives focus on community-based food preparation, clothing collection, distribution of basic needs, and provision of resources to homeless people living on the streets, in shelters, and in heating centers.
Suller said her efforts in Brighton only start with 200 lunches, but in the end she hopes they grow and contribute even more.
“After all, the goal would be if everyone is comfortable or who is comfortable walking around and doing them together. In the past, we just started making 200, and then we brought it to 400, because it was going so fast, because more and more people came, and then we brought it to 600, ”Suller said.
She said that while people who get dinners get something, the people who cook them get a gift by giving.
“We’re not just feeding people who are homeless, closed or in need, we’re feeding people who are having dinner, and I don’t know I can give a bigger gift than that,” Suller said. “At some point I just realized that all these people also get such a gift.”
Suller said she hopes to get people involved.
“One thing I’ve learned for a long time in my business is what people want to give. I think most people have a desire to give, and they don’t always know how, ”Suller said. “How hard is it to pack lunch? If you just brought one and threw it away, it’s one homeless person who will eat today or may not have eaten today ”.
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