The coronavirus pandemic has tested humanity’s fortitude and resilience–from millions of loved ones lost to the virus to widespread economic hardship. How do we maintain hope for the future in this moment we are living through together? Join Washington Post Live for the second interview in our new series, “The Optimist,” featuring conversations that aim to both inspire and inform.

On Wednesday, May 26 at 11:00am ET, best-selling author Mitch Albom joins Washington Post Live to discuss his charitable work aimed at ramping up coronavirus testing, improving vaccine access and helping families hit hardest by the pandemic. Albom will also discuss his latest book and how art can be a powerful tool for healing and instilling hope in people’s hearts.

Highlights

The best-selling author’s new book “Human Touch” revolves around the idea of interconnectivity, and how it can be both a problem and solution in building community resilience in a pandemic. “The disease doesn’t fly through the air and come down your chimney, it spreads from one person to another, so that whole interconnectivity was really brought home. And I think the solution is also the same thing. That we need to watch out for one another, we need to create a vaccinated society where we can be safe from one another. But in the interim, we’re wearing masks and we’re social distancing and we all have to do it with one another or it doesn’t work. Again, I bring back the fact that… I work in Haiti, I’m there every month and so, I see the other side of connectivity where people live out in the street and there’s no such thing as isolation and you have to rely on one another sometimes for water or… to borrow something. There’s no way you go off and live by yourself there.” (Washington Post Live)
“I formed a thing called SAY Detroit in 2006 after, ironically we had the Super Bowl here, and I had read there was going to be a party for the homeless for the Super Bowl. And I didn’t know what that meant… And so I went down and explored it and it turned out it was a euphemism for getting all the homeless off the street so they wouldn’t bother the customers, and putting them all into this one big center with a television set, and then Monday morning kicking them back into the snow. I thought that was pretty cruel so I…wrote a column about it and tried to raise enough money to keep everyone that was in those shelters for the Super Bowl in them for at least another three months until the weather warmed up. And I needed to get $60,000 dollars and I ended up getting $320,000 dollars in a week… And so I used that to create SAY Detroit which stands for ‘Super All Year Detroit’ instead of super for one weekend. And we’ve grown from that into an organization that umbrellas nine separate charitable operations–we have a day care center for children as young as five days old… to the nation’s first medical clinic for homeless children.” (Washington Post Live)
The best-selling author said Detroit had bounced back before the pandemic, but that covid-19 has turned back the clock on much of that economic progress. “Detroit really had bounced back before this pandemic. I mean, apartments weren’t possible to get… Not that long ago, the average house price in Detroit was $7,000, or the median. And so, to have suddenly demand and office buildings going up and restaurants and recreation places and clubs and everything just burgeoning was fantastic. And then this came and a lot of those restaurants went out of business, a lot of people decided ‘I’m not going to work downtown.’ You know we kind of got knocked over like a wave… I know our resilience will address that but I can’t really say how quickly we will rebound. It’s going to take some effort.” (Washington Post Live)

Mitch Albom

Provided by Mitch Albom.

Mitch Albom is the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, which have collectively sold more than forty million copies in forty-seven languages worldwide. He has written seven number-one New York Times bestsellers – including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time, which topped the list for four straight years – award-winning TV films, stage plays, screenplays, a nationally syndicated newspaper column, and a musical. Through his work at the Detroit Free Press, he was inducted into both the National Sports Media Association and Michigan Sports halls of fame and is the recipient of the 2010 Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement. After bestselling memoir Finding Chika, and “Human Touch,” the weekly serial written and published online in real-time to raise funds for pandemic relief, his latest work is a return to fiction with The Stranger in the Lifeboat (Harper, November 2021).

He founded and oversees SAY Detroit, a consortium of nine different charitable operations in his hometown, including a nonprofit dessert shop and food product line to fund programs for Detroit’s most underserved citizens. He also operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, which he visits monthly. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan. Learn more at www.mitchalbom.com, www.saydetroit.org, and www.havefaithaiti.org.