Detroit Mayor Dave Bing called Smith on Wednesday to thank him for his efforts to help the city. Bing, a former business owner, thanked Smith for his creativity and ingenuity along with his hard work.
“I want to applaud him for his entrepreneurial spirit for setting up a business in the city of Detroit even at the age of 9,” Bing said on Wednesday. He asked Smith’s family to take the money and use it to set up a college fund him instead of giving it to the city
“I think that’s probably more significant than trying to raise money for the city,” Bing said. “If he gets an education and comes back to this city as an entrepreneur, he can do more for the city at that point with an education than raising this money at the present.”
Smith’s parents insist, however, they are standing by their plan to donate the money to the city. Joshua’s mother, Rhonda Smith, says that he already has a college fund started and that he wanted to keep his word in giving the money to the city.
“Those who are more cynical in their orientation have doubted that we would [give the city the money],” Mr. Smith said. “Especially now that you’ve even got the mayor saying ‘keep the money,’ other people saying keep the money, but I want to let everybody know that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do.”
The family is still trying to figure out when they will deliver the money to the city. In terms of donating directly to the city, citizens can give money to a city teller on the first floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center – commonly referred to as the “City-County Building” – in downtown Detroit. The money would go to the city’s general fund unless otherwise specified.
“My pastor is trying to set it up where we can make a presentation on Sunday,” Mr. Smith said. “As far as I’m concerned, on Monday, I’ll go get a cashier’s check, take him down to the City-County Building, and show him how it all goes.”
Joshua has dreams of being an athlete when he grows up, not a businessman – he said that he loves playing basketball, baseball, and tennis – and has a giving nature that is similar to his parents. He was not looking for any kind of fame, but simply wanted to help the only city he’s known his entire life.
“He prays nightly for the city,” Mr. Smith said. “He’s an awesome little boy. I don’t know if he fully appreciates the magnitude of this thing.”
“He sees things and says ‘Dad, what can we do?’ I didn’t know he was going to take that and apply it to a citywide problem. He’s greatly eclipsed anything that his mother or I have done. For him to start a grassroots movement and to be a blessing to the city, that’s all original.”
Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter @JayScottSmith