Hello, once again! This is Brian reporting from Volunteer Kalamazoo, where I am serving as a dual Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM) and LEAGUE Michigan VISTA with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA).
It has been a wild and crazy (but fun) month here at Volunteer Kalamazoo. The past month has seen four major programs through completion, beginning on March 27th with our annual fundraiser, Eat, Drink, Give and ending on April 22nd with our annual volunteer recognition and award ceremony, STAR (Sharing Time And Resources) Awards. While I did lend a hand at both of these events, it was actually the two service days sandwiched in between that took most of my focus.
As many of you reading this know, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) was on April 18th (I encourage those of you who are not familiar with GYSD to check out gysd.org to learn more about this world-wide day of service). I am happy to report that GYSD was a success and would like to recognize Volunteer Kalamazoo’s Youth Service Council on their hard work in making the day a hit.
The other major event was Spring Into The Streets (SITS), which I was actually given complete ownership of. This program is done every year in collaboration with Western Michigan University’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Programs. This year SITS happened on April 10th. My role in SITS was to set up sites for students to register to volunteer and to manage the event on Volunteer Kalamazoo’s site. In all, I was able to set up over 530 volunteer slots with about a dozen organizations throughout the Kalamazoo area – which proved to be more than enough.
As if these two youth and young adult programs were not enough, my focus has also been on Volunteer Kalamazoo’s VolunTEENS program. VolunTEENS is a year-round youth volunteering program that has been around for 45 years, but for the past few years has only existed as youth tagged opportunities in our annual Guidebook due to staffing capacity. I have been working for the past few months to revitalize VolunTEENS, with plans for a summer kick-off to happen in June. Thanks to a grant from Allegra Printing, and with input from area youth, we have been able to create a new VolunTEENS logo and promotional materials. As part of the revitalization, I am also working on recreating the whole youth section of Volunteer Kalamazoo’s website. I hope to have the new youth pages online later this week.
Never a dull moment here, especially as I visit schools to promote the new VolunTEENS program and service learning. As the cold slips away and we truly transition into spring, I look forward to the extra time I will have with all the events of this past month over and done. I will need the time as I begin working on my Legacy Binder, to ensure all this momentum continues when I depart in August. Until then, wish me luck as I enter the final quarter of my service year strong!
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 was written by one of our VISTAs!