Doris Perez was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where her parents were both heavily involved in their community. They ran a medical clinic out of a trailer that they were able to move all over the island to bring assistance to many people. Every person that they helped was treated with dignity and love – a value that was very important for their family to uphold, and one that Doris continues to practice in her work today.

In 1979, Doris came to Michigan to study psychology and social work at Spring Arbor University. These four years taught her a lot about social work in America and inspired her to continue working with people. Eventually, Doris was offered a position as a Neighborhood Connector in the Godfrey Lee neighborhood through CommunityWorks.

Every week, Doris and other residents participate in a walking club, in which they walk weekly and talk with one another. After walking, they meet at someone’s home to cook, share stories, talk about goals and hopes for the future, and uplift each other.

They also like to come together and look for ways to help others in the community that are in need. In one instance, there was a woman that was at a low point both emotionally and physically and was unable to care for her garden. Doris and the walking club came along to help with the garden and show support.

Uncovering that potential has been Doris’ favorite thing to do and she calls this “treasure hunting.” She goes out into the community, getting to know and appreciate what every person has to offer. She says, “Every person has a distinctive, beautiful thing to contribute to society.” By practicing what she believes in, Doris has inspired others to want to connect with their neighbors and volunteer their time in the community. She has been committed to providing the training and support that the residents need to lead the growth and transformation of their communities.

As one resident that’s benefited from Doris’ work has said, “I am grateful and proud of Godfrey Lee, first and mainly for the community involvement and connections I have made. These connections have improved my life in many unexpected ways. For example, Lee St. CRC delivered and installed a washer and dryer. Besides what has been done for me, I also have dreamed on what I wish to see in my neighborhood, to turn the empty lots on Chicago Drive into working areas such as a farmers market, cultural crafts/flea market or food truck area with outdoor eating. Best of all, I have connected with other folks who also want to improve the place we love and live in.”