Generosity of businesses provides Christmas for 85 families in need

There will be 85 metro Detroit families waking up Christmas morning to gifts under their tree thanks to 60 area businesses that joined together to make the holiday season extra special for those in need.

In the beginning of November, the community-based non-profit organization Mimi’s Mission in Woodhaven started their first holiday program dedicated to helping working families.

Their struggle during the holiday season differed — some are going through a tough time because of a recent, unexpected loss of a job or abundant medical bill payments due to a sick family member.

Rather than just have individuals adopt-a-family for the program, Lisa Missler Vilella, founder of Mimi’s Mission, wanted to get Downriver businesses involved.

As a business owner of an insurance company in Woodhaven, Vilella said she personally wanted to give back to those who support her throughout the year. She found many other business owners felt the same.

The first year for their holiday program, Vilella said, was truly a success.

“The generosity businesses have shown to help people in the community has been astounding,” said Vilella. “They have stepped up to give these families a holiday beyond their expectations.”

In particular, UPS – United Parcel Service – in Livonia had three departments adopt Downriver families in addition to the GM Battery Assembly Plant in Brownstown Township and Beaumont Southshore Hospital’s Emergency Room Department that went “above and beyond.”

“The experience brought people from all over the Downriver area together,” said Vilella. “This is what the holiday season is all about.”

Owner of The Visionary, Annette Prevaux, in Allen Park said although she is quite involved in the community as an Allen Park Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce member, this is her first time adopting a family during the holidays.

“Giving to others is the heart of what we, at The Visionary, do in the community,” she said.

Prevaux said as a mother of older children, she was also looking for a way to revive her holiday spirit.

The family she adopted was a mother, father and two teenage girls. Prevaux said the father recently lost his job after working there for 20 years. His wife was in and out of hospital care which led to extensive medical bills coming in during the holiday season.

“They don’t have extra money to spend on gifts this year…Despite everything they’ve been through, It makes me feel good to know they will be able to enjoy the holiday with their daughters,” said Prevaux. “They are good people just down on their luck right now.”

In addition to Prevaux, Vilella said she has received a positive response from businesses that are looking forward to helping more families again next year.

For more information about Mimi’s Mission, visit or


Photos: Jeri and Mark Paonessa representing Beaumont Southshore Hospital in Trenton as they deliver gifts for a family in need. Photo courtesy of Lisa Missler Vilella (TOP), Michigan Legacy Credit Union of Wyandotte employees collected winter apparel to be donated to Downriver families. Photo courtesy of Lisa Missler Vilella (BOTTOM).


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