Dwane Casey can easily recall the moment.
The Detroit Pistons coach was delivering groceries for Focus: Hope during the early days of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Accompanied by his wife, Brenda, he approached a dwelling where he was told a blind man lived by himself. Casey could hear the TV and the man moving inside.
“I was yelling through the door because we had food out there,” Casey said. “Did he need any help? He said he was OK. Those situations you really feel good about because here's a gentleman who is there alone and dependent on other people for food.
"That's what Focus: Hope is all about.”
The Detroit nonprofit recognized corporate and community leaders dedicated to social justice at a virtual ceremony called Heroes for Hope on Oct. 9 . Presented by Ford Motor Co. & Lear Corp., the nonprofit honored Casey, Ford CEO Jim Farley, Magna International executive vice president Jim Tobin and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. The keynote presentation was a conversation between Farley and WDIV-TV anchor Devin Scillian.
A second event, a virtual march for social justice, was held two days later and the ceremonies together were called the Weekend of Hope.
“It is our hope that, by bringing community members together through the Weekend of Hope, we will be able to celebrate, reflect, and move forward together through action to support real change in Southeast Michigan and beyond,” Focus: Hope CEO Portia Roberson said in a release.
Casey was given the Father Cunningham & Eleanor Josaitis Award, which is named for Focus: Hope’s co-founders. The non-profit was founded shortly after the 1967 Detroit riots to “unite a community that was sharply divided on racial and economic lines.”
The mission statement promised “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice.”
Deep societal issues have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. With the NBA season temporarily suspended, Casey decided it was time for helping those less fortunate.
“Brenda and I was sitting around with the kids and was just trying to figure out what we could do to contribute because we felt hopeless and a little bit lost about all that was going on,” Casey said.
Casey called former Detroit mayor and Pistons great Dave Bing for guidance and he was led to Focus: Hope, which provides groceries for low income seniors.
Casey, Brenda and any players that were in town for individual workouts started delivering groceries.
Casey said he could sense the appreciation.
“It was good just to go and see the look on families' faces that needed the food, excited to talk about basketball from a distance,” Casey said. “They couldn't believe that I was out delivering food and everything, but it was for a great cause.”