“When you’re in the business of changing lives, it’s really heavy lifting.”

Sheilah Clay

A member at Skyline Club, Southfield, Mich., since 2013

BY LOUIS MARROQUIN / PHOTO BY PETER BAKER — Spring 2015

Who she is: As president and CEO of the nonprofit Neighborhood Service Organization, she works with impoverished families, individuals with developmental disabilities, the homeless, and those in crisis.

Stats: Armed with 300 staff members, the organization fields more than 75,000 calls per year on its crisis line, places about 300 young people in jobs each summer, and serves about 4,700 senior citizens, 2,000 developmentally disabled, and 1,600 homeless, among others. It has provided permanent housing for more than 200 people at the Michigan Bell Building since renovating the historic structure in 2012.

Driving force: “My motivation comes from knowing and believing that the organization really makes a difference in making people’s lives better.”

Success stories: “I’ve seen the tears fall from a mother’s eyes when she heard her autistic child speak for the first time. I’ve seen a gang member get out and become a peer leader, showing others there are options outside of violence in their lives. When we have successes like these, we celebrate them.”

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