The Detroit native began pioneering in her own city with her long time work in the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders. The nonprofit is a part of the United Way organization. She also found time to manage two small businesses of her own: a jewelry store, Fort Knox Jewelry and a food stand, Freeman Munchies.
She continued to blaze a trail when she became a part of starting programs that aided in uplifting the community. ShoeboXpress has its roots in Greater New Mount Moriah Baptist Church. Participants put together boxes filled with ready-to-eat foods and pass them out to those in need around Detroit.
Women in Suits and Pizza & Raiment Back to School Clothing for Kids are two more programs that Freeman has given her time to. They were established by the Greater Lansing Area Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and the Union Missionary Baptist Church Mission Ministry in Lansing, respectively. She is also a part of the Old Newsboys, an organization that sells newspapers and uses the proceeds to provide shoes and boots for children in school.
Freeman is very involved in her church because she is a woman that walks by faith. She often says, “ God gave me the gift to serve.” He ordered her altruistic steps to a position working with the, now, Mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero. But she isn’t there because of her love of the politics, instead, it is her love of the people that summoned her to the position.
The thought of leaving her family behind in Detroit while she moved on to her new ventures wasn’t an easy one. Although, being a part of the cause is of importance, family is Freeman’s first love. “I had one foot in Detroit and one foot in Lansing for years,” she said. Despite reservations, her niece was able to give the final encouraging push that Freeman needed to commit to the move.
She left the non-profit because it was an opportunity for her to change her profession, after she moved she earned her degree in business administration. Freeman was able to see this opportunity for what it was, both a change and a challenge. She faced it head-on. She moved to Lansing for her job, but she knew that she needed to find a way to branch out from work and gain independence and become more involved in her new stomping grounds. That’s when she began her all new line up of organizations. Freeman holds a title in the Greater Lansing Area Club (GLAC) of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc., her church, Union Missionary Baptist Church and Wilma’s Angel of Mercy group just to name a few.
Freeman is now well established in the Capital Area and has received the several awards for her involvement in the city including: the Greater Lansing Area Club Silver Anniversary Political/Government (Non-Politician) Award. She works daily to advocate for growth in the city. “ We provided a great economic development impact and give services to those that live in the city,” she says. “I’m a part of moving the city forward.”
Freeman has been in Lansing for 16 years and she has seen major growth since her first year there in 2001. Her love for live entertainment, jazz and other concerts has been nurtured by Old Town’s music festivals, The Wharton Center and even the Riverwalk Theater. She also takes the time to hit the nightlife scene with her friends when she can. Freeman advocates for broader sources of cultural sources and downtown entertainment because she realizes that it will attribute to an increase of diversity and the tourism that she shows it will bring to the Capital city.
One of her duties, aside from representing the mayor at events and providing him with day to day support, she lives up to her role as the Mayor’s Office Manager, affectionately known as “M.O.M”, which is titled appropriately as she supervises the many interns that volunteer in the Mayor’s office. “It’s one of the things that I am most proud of.”
Even when the day seems like it might be over, she hangs out the couch in front of the television that watches her furiously tap away on the keys of her laptop. Work never ends for a woman like Renee, and with the amount of change that she is bringing about, we have to hope that it never does.
Be sure to look out for Renee’s next venture as a participant of Dancing with the Local Stars. She will make her debut in May to raise funds for a local medical care center.
Photos provided are courtesy photos by Renee Freeman
Do you know an individual in the community who is a leader and serving the community in Lansing,MI?
About the Author
Sydney Ford is a freelance writer and graduating senior from Michigan State University. She has written for numerous online and print magazine publications including Capital Area Woman’s Lifestyle, Imprint, and HerCampus just to name a few. When she isn’t freelancing Sydney is working on her first novel which is also debuted in her blog!