DETROIT – Detroit firefighters can rest a little easier in the New Year thanks to a donation of more than 150 mattress sets from Art Van Furniture.
The donation, part of a $50 million fundraising initiative for public safety and recreation, is what Mayor Dave Bing called a “first step” to getting Detroit firefighters much-needed resources.
Art Van Elslander, founder of Art Van Furniture and Detroit Fire Commissioner Don Austin joined Bing on Christmas Eve at an east side firehouse to announce the donation.
Bing said the city’s financial state has left firefighters without all of the resources they need.
“Most people would assume that everything for our firemen is in great condition but that’s not the case,” Bing said. “All the equipment that the firemen need on a daily basis—we’ve not been able to supply them with the tools that they need to do their job.”
At Monday’s news conference, Elslander pledged to donate more mattresses if needed. “If there is a shortfall, let me say right now, we’ll take care of that need,” he said.
The donation was made through the Detroit Public Safety Foundation as part of the Mayor’s Active and Safe Detroit Campaign, a 3-year initiative geared to raise $50 million in private funds for the City.
Bing said he spends much of his time as mayor asking for outside help from private donors.
“I spend an important amount of time [asking for help] because of the shortfall in our budget,” Bing said. “We’re not getting the kind of resources we need at the state level or even at the federal level so we’ve really gotta enhance our bottom line by going out to philanthropy, to foundations, to businesses, to successful individuals.”
Bing sais his seeking for help for the city has be received positively in the private sector. He said that the $50 million fundraising initiative is not related to another plan to get outside help from businesses across the state and the country in the form of personnel “loans.”
“If you’re asking if this is related to the executive help from a personnel standpoint the answer would be no,” Bing said. “Because of the cutbacks we have had from a personnel standpoint we are very stressed, we are very light at the management level so we are now reaching out to certain businesses around the state in particular to see whether or not they could loan us executes from anywhere from one to two years.
Bing said on a more positive note that he is starting to see more “positive movement” in the city.
“I will keep going out every day trying to make sure that we tell our story, that things are bad, but not as bad as projected in some cases.” Bing said. “We’ve got a lot of folks coming to the table to help.”