Operation Get Down, Inc. (OGD) is a non-profit, community-based agency serving metro Detroiters since 1971. Centrally located at the intersection of Harper and Gratiot avenues, OGD has been a mainstay of the Eastside community for more than four decades. Born of the community-organization movement in the 1970s, OGD is a true grassroots success story.
While many grassroots organizations of the ‘70s have come and gone, Operation Get Down has grown into a million-dollar, CARF-accredited, United Way-member agency serving more than 35,000 people each year. OGD is proud of its neighborhood heritage, and equally proud of a proven ability to evolve and remain flexible in an increasingly complex funding and service-delivery environment. Through ever-changing times, the hallmark of OGD’s continued success and viability has been a strong track record for identifying and responding to current and emerging community needs.
In the 1970s, OGD raised money for sickle cell research and addressed the increasing community concern with youth gang violence. During the 1980s, OGD became synonymous with food distribution to the community’s most needy citizens. By the 1990s, OGD was at the forefront of recognizing and assisting the increasing number of homeless individuals and families, one of the community’s most disenfranchised populations. OGD’s forerunner – the NIA House in the former YMCA building – was a transitional-housing center that opened its doors in 1971 at its current location at 10100 Harper.
In 2004, Operation Get Down undertook the rigorous process of becoming accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), successfully meeting the CARF standards for program excellence. This accreditation assures our clients and colleagues that Operation Get Down’s services conform to nationally and internationally recognized standards and is focused on delivering the best outcomes for those we serve.
Founded in 1971, Operation Get Down will be eternally grateful to the co-founder and visionary that started the organization, Barry Hankerson. Through Barry’s understanding of grassroots organizing and his commitment to helping people become self-sufficient, he led a small group of Detroit Eastside residents to form what has become a major organization serving thousands of people annually. Barry Hankerson established the philosophy and mission for Operation Get Down which continues today. From producing the first Sickle Cell Telethon in 1972 to helping to organize the largest Urban Food Co-Op in the country, Barry has always used his skills to assist people in need.
As Barry moved on to the assistant to then Mayor Coleman Young, a music producer, and owner of record companies, he has continued to assist Operation Get Down in its development.
After 45 years of operating programs, which now consist of a substance abuse residential treatment center, and Timbuktu Academy, a Detroit Charter School, we continue to organize with Barry’s belief “that if you give a person dignity and respect and the means to overcome obstacles, they will solve most of their own problems and be successful in life”.
Co-founder Bernard Parker was another inspired young community leader and ultimately served as OGD’s Executive Director for over 30 years. Parker set up a substance-abuse program; established a transition center for 100 homeless men; provided direct services to more than 10,000 people annually; and created a warming center, transitional housing program and training programs for the homeless.
Today, OGD continues to focus on our community’s most marginalized citizens, offering outpatient and residential substance-abuse treatment programs, in addition to our homeless services.