Willie's Story

You helped Willie feel welcome at Oak Village.


Mr. Willie Jones was born in the heart of Detroit. He grew up on the west side and was raised in the home of his grandmother and grandfather. He grew up how most children do, playing basketball at Detroit Central and roller skating with friends. All of this changed when his mother passed away from breast cancer when he was 12.

Mr. Jones was raised not to focus on girls or group activities, his family wanted him to pursue a college degree. “I was staying in a family house after my mom died. My aunt stayed upstairs, and I stayed downstairs with my cousins. My grandmother and grandfather took care of all of us. Once my grandparents and aunt passed, I went to school at Wayne State to study physical education.” Mr. Jones expressed that since his family took care of him, he wanted to learn how to take care of others and focus on school.

“I was told not to fall in love, but I met a woman at Wayne, and everything changed. We ended up having a child. I left college to take care of my daughter and family. She passed away about 4 years ago from sickle cell. May she be resting in peace.” Mr. Jones continued to live in his family home until her passing. He and his wife divorced shortly after. He needed a new place to rest his head that would be safe and welcoming.

“I knew a guy that lived there (Oak Village Square Apartments). I told him the situation I was going through, and he told me to fill out an application. I called the housing (facility) and that’s when I met Ms. Shirley and Courtney. They helped me out a lot and told me about the United Way Grant. I’m here today by the grace of God and from the grant’s help.” 

Through United Way SE Michigan for Wrap Around Support, Mr. Jones continues to build a sense of community at Oak Village Square (OVS). He looks forward to joining more of Michigan State’s Cooking Matters Classes that are held at OVS once a week to learn how to cook nutritious meals for one. “I have gout on one of my feet so I can’t play basketball or roller skate all the time. Me learning how not to eat certain foods has helped a lot. I don’t eat beef no more so I can play more.”

This month, Mr. Jones celebrated one year and three months as a resident at OVS Apartments. “It’s a nice building with nice people. I ain’t worried about anything else, Ms. Shirley and Courtney hold our community together.”

While growing up, Mr. Jones was always surrounded by family. After they passed, he never had a place where he felt like he truly belonged and was welcomed. Once he moved into OVS, he knew that he had finally found the community right for him. “They (Oak Village Square Apartments), are my fellows, my very light.” Thank you for making this possible.