WSU School of Social Work alumni honor crusaders against homelessness

February 21, 2013

DETROIT— A veteran Detroit-area social worker and a Grammy-nominated R&B artist will be honored next month by the Wayne State University School of Social Work alumni organization for their tireless efforts on behalf of the city’s homeless population.
At a March 29 luncheon at Wayne State’s McGregor Memorial Conference Center, the school’s alumni association will bestow its annual awards honoring individuals who are improving conditions for Southeast Michigan residents. Alumnus of the Year will go to licensed social worker Risarg (Reggie) Huff (M.S.W., ’81), who is director of homeless services for Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), while Citizen of the Year will go to KEM, a Motown Records artist who openly shares his personal story of rising to stardom from homelessness and addiction.

Huff, a School of Social Work adjunct faculty member who has practiced for more than 30 years, was nominated because of his dedication to not only managing homelessness, but to ending it. There are an estimated 19,000 homeless individuals in Detroit, and NSO plays a vital role as the only organization working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to serve those with nowhere to go due to behavioral difficulties, mental illness or physical challenges. Huff oversees homeless programs that include mobile outreach, a crisis support center for chronically homeless individuals, and supportive housing.                                   

KEM, who has received a Billboard Music Award and two Grammy nominations, is being honored for serving the city’s homeless population through volunteer work and charitable donations. He launched the nonprofit organization Mack and Third to gather food and raise funds for the area's homeless shelters and food banks, and since 2009 he has organized a free outdoor summer concert in Detroit’s Cass Park. During the event, sponsored by metro Detroit corporations, volunteers collect tens of thousands of dollars of canned goods, offer free health screenings, and distribute thousands of toiletry kits.

Space for the awards luncheon, which starts at 11:30 a.m., is limited, and reservations must be received by March 20. Tickets are $30; a table of eight can be reserved for $200. WSU students can purchase tickets for $20 each.

For further information, contact Julie Alter-Kay, special assistant to the dean, at or 313-577-4464.

PHOTOS: (Top) Risarg Huff; KEM

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.