Hello fellow VISTA members! Billie Patterson here. Hard to believe we are half way through the service year, even harder to believe that I am finishing up my third year of service at United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties (UWMI). This has been such an exciting and wonderful journey.
The past few months have been so incredibly busy with planning our first area Show Me The Money Day (SMTMD) event. SMTMD started 6 years ago at just one location, this state-wide event has grown in popularity and 2016 will see approximately 25 SMTMD events.
UWMI was fortunate enough to have a second AmeriCorps (State) member start in October, sponsored by CEDAM. This member and I, along with our Supervisor planned and executed the SMTMD event. With a committee of 10 people to assist in the planning, we were able to create a great day of food, fun and prizes, along with financial health education.
SMTMD is a function held to kick off tax season and allow residents to have access to information and resources in their community, at no cost, which will assist in increasing their financial health. Our four hour event consisted of eight workshops such as cooking healthy on a budget, 18 businesses and organizations (banks, credit unions, action agencies, and children’s services), food and drink, great prizes, and tax preparation. Through the hard work of UWMI staff, the SMTMD committee, a variety of sponsors and donors, and the 23 amazing volunteers we had, SMTMD was a great success. Our 51 attendees actively engaged in conversation with the booths at the Vendor Café (expo type setting), almost half attended two or more workshops, 16 won prizes and we had 80% feedback on our post-event survey. A few of those who attended also signed up for workshops later in the month at various places.
This event was challenging at times, and a lot of hard work; both physically and mentally. However, the feeling I had when this was all done and we could reflect upon the whole thing objectively was amazing. A great sense of pride and accomplishment at helping others is what I had and is part of what continues to drive me in service. It is refreshing to get to see results after so much planning and hard work.
It was great to see all of you at Mid-Year Training. I love hearing about the wonderful service you are all doing around Michigan. As busy as we all are throughout the year, it is awesome to come together to get reenergized and refocused on our projects. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the technicalities and bureaucracy of our programing and this crazy non-profit world. The next six months will fly by, with many of you going off into the sunset to fulfill your dreams and aspirations. Just know that no matter what, you are making a difference to someone somewhere, and that is important! Thank you all for your service, dedication, hard work, kindness and inspiration.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!