Eleanor Josaitis is one of a kind.
In a recent visit to her room in the Apostolic Christian Retirement Center on Middlebelt, north of Five Mile Road in Livonia, MI., she lit up when I asked her if I could read a meditation.
"Sure, please!" she said with exuberance.
In and out of hospitals for the last year, or so, Eleanor, a beloved community activist, shines wide and big for all the good she does for Detroit's residents, and, beyond.
Josaitis founded Focus:HOPE, a nationally-renowned civil and human rights organization with the late Father William Cunningham who died in 1997.
After the 1967 civil unrest and riots in Detroit, they both decided to make a difference.
And, they have.
They delivered progams that "use intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice," their mission states.
They brought together suburban and city high school students on a retreat to help them experience and bridge the cultural divide.
Both are heroes that I've been privileged to witness and grow up with as I watched them stand up when other chose to sit and say or do little or nothing in the face of prejudice.
Both refused to become cynical in the face of so much sadness and horror all around the violence
of our beloved Motown.
Watching Eleanor struggle with the pain of cancer and bed sores reminds me of the salve they
provided, and, the jobs they helped create in retraining so many people for work.
Food for mothers, children and seniors citizens in 1971 helped others become aware of the plight of so many humans.
Eleanor believes that eduction and training is key to ending racism and poverty. Injustice
only inflicts violence. When treated unfairly, people get frustrated and fight. Elenaor knows that well. She helps with positive solutions. And, has done that for decades now. Some resisted her vision. Yet, she persists, and finds solace at Detroit's Belle Isle, where Father Cunningham also fled when their humanity was tested. Still, their faith and interior life, kept them both moving.
Focus:HOPE continues today as a beacon of hope.
And, although Eleanor Josaitis seems to want to get up and go, she is practical enough to know her limitations. With smiles, and gentle gestures, she wondered the other day if she's been asking too much of God lately.
"You, I said!"
"Eleanor, you've been one of God's best helpers. God would never tire of you," I shot back.
She inspires from her bed, however. Always an inspiration. I love her so much, and, her example inspires so many.
And, I am so proud to know her, and her family, and the faith that fuels so much common good.
She is practical, passionate and persistent.
We all can learn lots from her faith and interior life lived daily in and out of that bed that confines her, yet, inspires many, and, me, praise God.