The Michigan Nonprofit Association houses a Civic Engagement AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program through which 30 VISTAs throughout the state of Michigan build the capacity of local organizations in efforts to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Our MNA*VISTAs work in conjunction with Michigan Campus Compact, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, and The LEAGUE Michigan to promote and facilitate lifelong civic engagement.
Civic engagement can look different for everyone. Our VISTAs focus on engaging community members through service-learning, student engagement, college access and success, financial literacy, and employability skills. All of these are goals within the areas of education and economic opportunity, two areas which, if improved within the state of Michigan, can help eliminate poverty.
One way in which MNA*VISTAs engage community members is organizing and facilitating service projects for well-known and important national days of service. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service is one of these widespread service days, and was held in 2014 on January 20, 2014. On MLK Day, our VISTAs were out in their communities in full force facilitating and managing service projects to raise awareness of this day and rally communities together to unite and serve.
Through service projects held on and around MLK Day, our VISTA cohort completed 29 independent projects (including some large multi-site projects), and recruited 1,368 volunteers! These volunteers served a combined 2,460 hours of their time completing projects addressing hunger & homelessness, animals, environment, health & wellness, veterans, literacy & education, food access and more.
MNA*VISTAs Rachelle Rice and Michael Januzzi, who are serving at Delta College in University Center, Michigan, facilitated a service project in which Bridgeport High School and Ruben Daniels Middle School students created a mosaic of Martin Luther King, Jr. The “Dr. King Mosaic” is comprised of 216 tiles, each of which has special meaning to a Bridgeport or Ruben Daniels student.
MNA*VISTA Matthew Vargo who is serving at Volunteer Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan, organized and facilitated a march in remembrance of MLK Jr. which began at Western Michigan University, ran through the city of Kalamazoo, and ended at MLK Memorial Park. Participants then released biodegradable balloons after hearing speeches from community leaders. This was part of a large day of service in which 275 volunteers gave their time at 19 project sites throughout the Kalamazoo area.
As you can see from these two examples, our MNA*VISTAs are doing fantastic work! Since most of our members began their service terms in August 2013, they will wrap up their terms in August 2014, and we’re looking for new members to continue the great work our current VISTAs have started. If you’re interested in becoming an AmeriCorps*VISTA starting in August 2014, please contact our program staff at email@example.com!
Submitted by Chelsea Leser, AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader, Michigan Nonprofit Association
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