With a small doll dressed in a white top and gray slacks displayed in front of him, Gerry Anderson on Friday listened as dignitary after dignitary praised the positive work DTE Energy is doing southeast Michigan.
“Great things are happening (in Detroit),” Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. “And DTE and Gerry Anderson are a big part of that.”
The compliment was part the annual Detroit Goodfellows Tribute Breakfast Oct. 20, in which the group honored Anderson as the Goodfellow of the Year. The event is the group’s largest fundraiser to help needy children in metro Detroit.
So, why the doll?
Each year, the Detroit Goodfellows provides presents for 34,000 disadvantaged children during the holidays. One of the presents for the girls is a doll, which are dressed and styled by community volunteers. The dolls also served as centerpieces for the breakfast event Friday.
Those dolls were among Anderson’s first introductions to the Detroit Goodfellows, not long after he started working at DTE.
“As Thanksgiving approached, I began to notice hundreds of dolls showing up, filling the tops of cabinets and the shelves of hallway book cases,” he said.
Anderson discovered it was the work of Cheryl Gonda, now retired, and about 100 other DTE employees and retirees who dressed the dolls for the Goodfellows. He accepted the award at the Friday ceremony on behalf of DTE employees.
“Through their effort, more than 1,200 dolls were dressed and delivered to support the Goodfellows mission of ‘No Kiddie Without a Christmas,’” Anderson said. “That practice continues to this day at DTE, and what struck me at the time was the generosity of spirit in those people who undertook small acts of kindness on behalf of the people they would never know.
“I’m proud to be the leader of a company filled with such generous people,” he said.
In addition to Stabenow, other civic leaders such as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Community Schools, spoke at the event and complimented Anderson on the work DTE and its employees are doing in Detroit.
The group mentioned DTE’s work on revitalizing Randolph Technical Career Center, transforming an empty and dilapidated park into a massive solar array and constructing Beacon Park into a popular community space.
“These are the actions of a visionary,” Duggan said.