Hola! I just have to start off by stating, I truly never understood the value of time until now. I am excited for all that I have accomplished so far in my first year as a VISTA, but I will have to admit it has been a rapid journey. I do not quite remember every single detail of this year, but I do feel as though I am in a place where I feel different. Different in the sense that I feel more prepared in my career endeavors and I feel more confident in myself. I continue to understand my role in the community.
Continuing this year we have done work to keep our community members engaged. Starting with the first part of my VAD, which is working around college access with the network named Southwest Detroit College Access network. I met with the network a couple times, but it seemed as though there was a need of something else that we did not quite understand. Christine (my supervisor) and I thought, ‘what do we actually need to do to be able to move the needle for those folks that are looking to advance in greater economic opportunities?’ Our question went beyond filling out FAFSA and applying to colleges, but actually helping individuals get from point A (their current situation) to point B (stable and well paid job).
According to Data Driven Detroit, 54% of Springwells residents, a small community in Southwest Detroit, do not have a high school diploma or equivalent meaning that there are many adults that struggle to find a ‘good’ job. That is why we are rethinking our focus to look closer at under and unemployed individuals in the community and see what resources would better fit them to advance in economic opportunities. It is our hope to be able to see every single person in our community be able to do what they love and sustain their family at the same time. We will be doing an intense listening campaign this summer, in which I along with others have put together the structure and questions. We are listening to adults who are currently under or unemployed in the community to understand their needs and barriers that keep them from obtaining a good job. We will partner with eleven organizations that serve the adult population in either advancing in educational opportunities like ESL, GED, college classes and/or serving them by providing training programs.
Moreover, our work around chronic absence is doing better than ever! We have been working hard to launch our citywide listening campaign for the city of Detroit. I have continued to bring the citywide table together to discuss our next steps. We have recently focused on three goals being; communication and assets plan, listening campaign (one page research paper), and Attendance Kick-Off event. In the plan it includes building a website, creating infographics, creating pledge cards, hosting a citywide event and much more. We are working together with over forty partners in the table to bring together knowledge, resources, and manpower to actually accomplish these tasks.
All this great work happening in Southwest Detroit and I am happy to say that I will be staying another year as a VISTA! To be honest being a VISTA for two years was never on my mind, but I am super excited to continue this great work in the community and spending time with those that have helped me in every step of they way. Hope everyone is having a great summer thus far! :)
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!