Hello, I’m Ethan Daley a First-year VISTA serving at HandsOn Battle Creek. HandsOn is a program of the United Way with the mission of recruiting volunteers for local non-profit organizations and organizing service based events throughout the community. I specifically work incorporating service-learning, through the LEAGUE Michigan, into all the schools throughout the Battle Creek area. Service-learning involves combining service projects with the material being taught in classrooms. For example, while I worked with a third grade science class at Fremont Elementary the class was learning about bugs. For our project, we built “insect hotels,” which are box environments designed to promote insect life, and placed them in Willard and Verona Park in downtown Battle Creek. These hotels will provide habitats for local insects and, in turn, promote plant growth in the surrounding area. This project, like all successful service-learning projects, enforced the class’s understanding of their classroom material while having a positive impact on the community.
We are lucky at HandsOn because we work in such a dynamic and supportive community as Battle Creek. I work with four different school districts throughout the area, and a total of thirty three different schools. This allows me to organize a wide variety of service-learning projects with many different age groups which makes every day at my service site unique. Battle Creek is also a wonderful community because it is so supportive of philanthropic work and is the home of numerous organizations that are willing to assist with service-learning. I have worked with many different organizations including the food bank, the VA Hospital, Sprout Urban Farming Initiative, and the Calhoun County Animal Center. Having such wonderful and supportive organizations in the area allows me to tailor my service-learning projects to very specific subjects. For example, on Veterans Day many teachers have their students write letters to service men and women. In Battle Creek we are lucky enough to have a VA Hospital, and Ft. Custer Military Base, so rather than just writing letters I was able to get actual veterans to come talk to the students.
My year of service is almost completed here at HandsOn Battle Creek, and I will never forget the wonderful experience that I have had here. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to touch so many lives and make such a positive impact on so many people. I look forward to my next position with Americorps NCCC starting in February. Hopefully, I will be able to continue doing meaningful work and make a positive impact on the communities that I find myself in.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!