Rose’s Good Company is a non-profit agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan that provides services to people who would otherwise fall through the cracks. We help the homeless, recovering alcoholics and addicts, those recently released from prison, the unemployed; you name it, we’re there to provide a service. Rose’s Good Company gives hope where there is none. We don’t give people what we think they should have, we give people what they need.
As of May of 2011, Rose’s Good Company has provided services to over 2,500 individuals and families.
About Rose Martin
Rose grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and lived virtually on her own from the age of seven, when she began an odyssey through thirty-eight foster homes. The birth of two children and an abusive marriage followed. In 1971, refusing to succumb to a life of defeat, she took her children and left for Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she landed a job with the Housing Commission. Five years later she became director of Ann Arbor’s Peace Neighborhood Center where she served for 30 years, and spent six of her eight years with The Washtenaw County Department of Social Services as Chairperson. Rose also wrote a newspaper advice column for children and and their parents titled “Rose Knows” for 10 years.
Honors & Awards
- U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice honored her for designing and implementing one of the nation’s model juvenile delinquency prevention programs
- Michigan Department of Education Association, the David Mahan Award
- Ann Arbor Public Schools, Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarianism award
- The Exchange Club of Ann Arbor, the Book of Golden Deeds award
- Selected to carry the torch for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games
- Honored with the National Winning Spirit Grand Prize on the Rosie O’Donnell Show
One Rose Blooming: Hard-Earned Lessons about Kids, Race, and Life in America, by Rose Martin
In her book, One Rose Blooming, Stan Mendenhall introduces Rose Martin. The following is from the book’s Forward.
Rose Martin lives in a different world. The physical place she voluntarily inhabits is tormented by poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and the lack of opportunity. It’s a place victimized by racial bigotry, and one where children are vulnerable to a whole host of problems not of their own making.
Most people know this same place– Ann Arbor, Michigan– for its world-class University of Michigan and for its highly educated, affluent, liberal, socially active citizens.
Rose’s spirit resides in a different world, as well. In Rose’s world, if there is a problem, you do something to solve it. If you see people who are homeless, you find them shelter. If they are hungry, you feed them. If they are discouraged, you give them hope. In her world you listen to children– really listen– and you give your love unconditionally.
Anyone who meets Rose for the first time is quickly seduced by her presence, her intensity. Her throaty voice wells up from another dimension and can shake the truth out of the most deceitful soul. Her quick wit and charm draw you in, and you can’t help but be impressed with her incredible memory for people, families and events. She has the patience and dedication of a Mother Teresa, but her thoughts take shape in a language as colorful and raw as the streets she grew up on. Rose was “telling it like it is” long before the phrase was coined. She is a great storyteller; the words roll off her tongue– as a grandchild of hers said– like music from a choir.
And you realize that if she had any venal instincts, she could use her impressive talents to enrich herself personally. In truth, she has done the opposite. She lives humbly, and for the last thirty years she had been focused on her clients– helping them stay off drugs, stay on the job, or stay in school. She has also used her charm, charisma, and intelligence to convince the well-to-do members of the town to commit money and resources to help the less fortunate.
For Rose, there is no difference between her personal and professional life. She raised a wonderful, successful family– two biological children and six adopted children. As a social worker and community activist, she brought aid and comfort to thousands of kids. Along the way she opened her house to over five hundred children (nearly all without compensation) many of whom stayed with her for three months or more. Five hundred!
I can testify to her hard work, long hours, and selfless motives. I have received calls from her at 11:30 at night while she was on her way to help someone and I was on my way to bed. I have heard her schedule meetings with clients in Detroit– a good hour’s drive away– after 10:00 P.M.
Getting to know Rose can be unsettling for anyone comfortable in his or her own life. Even those willing to contribute to the cause, especially those who like to attach strings to their contributions, may find Rose’s hand on their shoulder, gently pushing them out of their comfort zone. Rose inspires people– black and white, rich and poor– to reach new levels of, as she would say, “spiritual maturity”. She believes that money and wealth should not be accumulated but used to fix problems for people. This can be unnerving for those who measure their own worth by their financial portfolios.
She has not and does not aspire to material wealth. A review of the contents if her safe-deposit box and her often-mortgaged house are testimony to that. Rose simply counts her wealth in ways that do not occur to most of us– lives saved, friends she can count on, children whose lives will be better than those of their parents, the drug-free days of a client, people willing to volunteer to help someone else.
This book came about when Rose talked about a writing career. I thought she had a compelling story that should be heard by a wider audience, so I helped arrange getting her story in print.
One of my favorite stories about Rose’s dedication to her calling took place as this book was being written. During the holidays of 2000, a man took his children hostage in their own house. He held the police o four municipalities at bay for three days. The man’s ex-wife was a client of the Peace Neighborhood Center, where Rose had been director for nearly twenty-five years, and Rose had, through the years, provided a variety of services to the children who were being held.
There at the site of the standoff stood Rose– on the coldest day of the winter– with milk, juice, and Fruit Loops, trying to get some food to her “babies”. When she wasn’t on the front lines, she was caring for half of the family that wasn’t being help against their will.
In the middle of all this, she was supposed to be finishing up the manuscript with an editor; but she called me from the front lines and explained that she couldn’t meet the next day as planned because, she explained, “I am involved in a hostage situation.” I had never heard that excuse before for missing a meeting. And who could argue with it.
Rose is a role model for many, to some almost a saint. But she is not without her detractors. Some chafe at her freewheeling style of getting things done. They find it outside the bounds of standard procedures and financial management.
Perhaps sometimes it is. But Rose is continually reaching beyond our safe and often ineffective way of doing things. She understands, as few do, just how great the needs of our community are. And because of the depth of her experience, she has unique ways of teaching us how to help people in need, how to communicate with our children, how to heal racial divides.
We live in an overly institutionalized society, where we too often feel content to leave the solutions of problems to this government program or that business institution– in short, to someone else. It’s a world in which we grow cynical, detached.
Rose brings us a refreshing antidote to that cynicism– one we desperately need.
~ Stan Mendenhall
Editor and Chief, Orthopedic Network News