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Detroit’s Warriors on Wheels has the drive to thrive

Program is grateful to the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People for its ‘support from the very beginning’

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People has a longstanding relationship with Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit. (Photo courtesy of WOW)

LOUISVILLE — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit decided to start a grocery delivery service to help vulnerable people stay safe. The delivery service for people who are disabled or who are older adults is just one of the ways that Warriors on Wheels (WOW) has assisted people in Michigan with the help of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People and other supporters.

“In addition to grocery deliveries during the pandemic, we also provide car services to individuals who no longer have attendant care in Michigan due to the change in laws,” wrote Lisa Franklin, WOW’s founder and chief executive officer, in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) questionnaire.

WOW describes itself as a grassroots nonprofit advocacy organization of people with disabilities for people with disabilities. “We serve with compassion and dedication to our community because we believe that what is good for us is good for us all,” Franklin said.

The organization got its start in 2006 as Women on Wheels, and then it became Warriors on Wheels in 2008 as men became involved. The nonprofit has monthly meetings to discuss issues, find solutions, support families and provide resources. It also engages with city and state governments on issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The nonprofit organization has been a strong advocate for people who need a voice, with the main audience being the disabled Black community, Franklin said.

“WOW was one of the lead organizations that fought for and won the advancement of an Office of Disability Affairs in the city of Detroit government,” Franklin said. “We fought for 10 years.”

The group also fights stigma, a problem that has hindered disabled people “for centuries, creating a society of ableism,” Franklin said. That type of behavior “alienates, segregates (and) demeans” very viable human beings and violates human rights.


Warriors on Wheels helped lead the fight to establish an Office of Disability Affairs in Detroit government. (Photo courtesy of WOW)

WOW became aware of SDOP as an indirect result of attending Detroit City Council meetings to speak out about ADA violations in the area. An ally approached them and told them about PC(USA)’s mission and invited them to a board meeting.

“We appreciate SDOP for your support from the very beginning,” Franklin said. “Your initial support provided us with the funding to revamp an accessible minibus, which we use to attend meetings, extend our advocacy and provide light transportation services to the underserved population in the disability community.”

The relationship has continued with follow-ups, site visits, church visits and emails, Franklin. “We have been spotlighted for our work by SDOP a few times to share our experience with other potential awardees,” she said. “SDOP makes you feel like family.”

WOW’s members have been tightknit with each other during the pandemic, holding Zoom meetings and social activities to keep from feeling isolated.

“We have not lost one member to COVID, and we believe that providing resources, grocery delivery, masks and just a kind word of encouragement have kept us out of harm’s way; and prayer is our foundation,” Franklin said.

This story is part of the SDOP Sunday Resource, an annual guide to the work of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. It is published in advance of the celebration of SDOP Sunday, which will be celebrated in Presbyterian churches across the United States on March 13. Click here to learn more about SDOP and SDOP Sunday.

 The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Its work is made possible by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing

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