By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The founder of Downriver for Veterans, Ann Rudisill, who always helps others, received help in return when reality show “Returning the Favor” did a weekend makeover of the nonprofit’s storefront.
“Returning the Favor,” a Facebook-based reality show hosted by television personality Mike Rowe, best know for “Dirty Jobs,” was in Wyandotte Aug. 27 for the reveal of the new facade of the building at 2447 Fort St., and a brightened and reorganized interior, with improved aisle access.
The reality show also presented a $30,000 check to the Downriver for Veterans, which helps local veterans with a wide range of needs.
The show reportedly will be released in the fall.
Rudisill was spirited out of town for the weekend by family members in on the secret so the crew of “Returning the Favor” could renovate the building inside and out. The front of the storefront is painted bright white, with red and blue accents, a new sign, and larger, brighter emblems of all of the U.S. Military Armed Forces.
When Rudisill was driven to the front of the building, volunteers on the roof dropped a tarp, revealing the bright new facade, as a crowd of volunteers and well-wishers cheered.
Rudisill was flabbergast, amazed that the makeover had been kept a secret from her, and filled with emotion as the surprises continued, including the renovated interior and $30,000 donation.
“I just realized the crappy little racks are gone,” Rudisill said as she looked around at the interior of the building in amazement, wiping away tears.
“I didn’t really realize how big of a difference we were making,” Rudisill said. “This is amazing. All of these people – my God.”
Wyandotte Mayor Joseph Peterson, who, like Rudisill, is a veteran, said he was very proud of her work.
“All of us are veterans, and are just giving back to each other,” Peterson said. “This is a big moment not just for Wyandotte, but a big moment for veterans. That $30,000 will go a long way in taking care of veterans, and that is what she does.”
Peterson said Downriver for Veterans has a remarkable group of volunteers who works with Rudisill.
“She is successful because she never sleeps,” Peterson said. “She is a good lady. I am proud of Ann, and she is a fellow Vietnam veteran, too. She served in the Air Force. It’s just a beautiful day for her.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])