Hi, I’m Brian Church and I am serving with Volunteer Kalamazoo in (you guessed it!) Kalamazoo. I have the special privilege of working through two Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) programs: The LEAGUE Michigan (TLM) and Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM). While the work I do with both of the programs may differ some, they both come together in promoting service in Kalamazoo. My role with TLM is to create a culture of service in local schools by promoting service learning in the classroom. However, unlike most TLM VISTAs who operate from a school in their county, I operate from Volunteer Kalamazoo. My work with VCM has overlap, but also brings in many new components to my work. In addition to working with Volunteer Kalamazoo’s Youth Service Council (a youth advisory committee), I also work to promote days of service (both national and local), assist with grant writing, and a lot of other programming that the organization is involved in, especially if it involves youth.
I believe being placed in a volunteer center as a TLM VISTA has been beneficial to my service. It has allowed me to gain a broader understanding of service learning and service enterprise, which I can then apply to my service in the schools.
October has been a busy month here at Volunteer Kalamazoo. Within an 8 day period we put on 3 events: Oktobeerfest on the 18th, Embassy Suites Detroit Day of Service on the 22nd, and Make a Difference Day on the 25th. That doesn’t even include our other events going on that do not require Volunteer Kalamazoo oversight, such as the Fall Into the Streets program in partnership with Western Michigan University. But large events are not the only big things going on for me. I am also building some big partnerships in town as part of my TLM work. One that I am especially excited about is with Western Michigan University’s department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Studies. Each year this department graduates around 300 teachers. I am working with the department chair to promote service learning to these student teachers before they graduate. Not only is this a good way to inform large numbers of future teacher s about service learning while they are still in school, but it is also a great model I hope can be applied to other schools in the future.
I am excited about where my service year is headed. There are a lot of great things in the works and I know that the fun has only just begun.
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!