My AmeriCorps VISTA term is almost up and I couldn’t be happier with how this year has gone! Going into this position almost a year ago, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew my VAD, but what I didn’t realize was how many professional development opportunities I would be presented with outside of my VAD.
Last year at this time I was honestly proud of my resume. As an involved and experienced recent college graduate, I thought I had a lot of great information listed for potential employers to look at. Now I look back at that resume and think differently of it. Yes, I did have a lot of great information listed, but nothing in comparison to what this year has given me.
As a MNA VISTA at a United Way, I was presented with many professional development opportunities, most of which I eagerly took advantage of: conferences, workshops, webinars, volunteer opportunities, etc. I now feel much more confident to go out into the real world because of the new knowledge, experience and perspectives I have gained throughout this year.
During this year I was not only a Michigan Nonprofit Association Civic Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA through the LEAGUE Michigan at the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (talk about a long title, right!?!) who assisted with service-learning projects and educational grants, but I was also an event volunteer coordinator, a mentor programmer, a life enrichment volunteer, a grant review team member, a college positive volunteer, an animal socializer, a reading buddy, and so much more! I have learned so much in each and every one of the roles I have played this year and am so grateful to have been given so many opportunities through being a VISTA!
Best of luck to all of my co-VISTAs,
Hello everyone! My name is Malina Clements. I am a VISTA at HandsOn Battle Creek through the League Michigan. The primary goal of my position is to supply local K-12 educators with the supplies they need to carry out service-learning projects with their students. Service-learning is a teaching/learning style that applies the lessons being learned in the classroom into real world settings and situations that students see in their own community.
One educator I work with went above and beyond what I typically see for service-learning. She came up with a service-learning project for her own classroom, then took it a huge step forward and applied it to her entire school! I was incredibly impressed by her actions. I was alsovery inspired by her and wanted to share her story with other educators. I have a degree in Advertising and Public Relations. Throughout my education I gained a passion for writing feature stories. Therefore, I decided to write a feature story on this particular teacher, project and school:
A Community Impacted through Service-Learning
School Wide Food-Drive
BATTLE CREEK, Mich – It’s a cool and crisp December morning in South West Michigan. As Matt, 6th grader at Springfield Middle School, gets ready for school, he quickly fills his backpack with the canned foods his parents told him he could take to his school wide can drive.
Five blocks away, Molly, 8th grader at Springfield Middle School, is placing a variety of canned goods into her bag as well. While doing so, she can’t help but daydream about the individuals in need that will receive the food she is donating, and of the impact she will make on their lives. For the first time in a long time, Molly is excited about going to school. She is excited about this school-wide service-learning project. She is excited to take a part in positively impacting her community.
On her bus ride to school, Kristin, 7th grader at Springfield Middle School, can’t seem to stop thinking about her teacher, Kathy Roberts. Mrs. Roberts is the teacher who had the idea to set up this school-wide can drive. It was all inspired by “Giving Tuesday,” the second biggest giving day of the year. Kristin’s mind trails off back to December 1st, the day of Giving Tuesday, when Mrs. Roberts explained the concept of philanthropy and how they would be applying it in Springfield Middle School through this school wide food drive.
“Acts of philanthropy change the world,” said Mrs. Roberts. “When you drop a stone in the water, you create a ripple effect. That’s the same with philanthropy. When you perform a good act, you will inspire more people to do good acts too, who will in turn, inspire more and more people!”
Mrs. Roberts wasn’t the only teacher at Springfield Middle School to kick off the day with a lesson on service-learning and philanthropy – the entire school, all of the teachers, did the same. Each teacher explained to their class that in honor of Giving Tuesday, the school would be hosting a two-week long food drive competition among the 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Springfield Middle School. The grade with the most food collected will win the competition. The class with the most food collected will be rewarded with a philanthropic prize; The warm feeling of knowing they made a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.
“I believe in the power of community,” said Roberts. “I constantly hear my students ask, ‘When will I ever actually use this information?’ Service-learning answers that question.”
Through this service-learning food drive project, students explore local food issues such as scarcity and abundance, and how those issues are related to the issues of poverty and health. The food collected will be used to create food baskets which will be donated to 36 families in need who are significantly affected by the local area’s food desert. Through this project, students will better understand how the non-perishable food items they donated will positivity impact the health and wellbeing of families in need.
Currently, the food drive is still going strong, with a little under a week left to collect food. The students at Springfield Middle School have already collected a large portion of the food needed for the baskets. There is no doubt that these students will collect enough food to fill 36 family food baskets this holiday season. Think of that impact; 36 families will get their needs met, all thanks to a community based service-learning project carried out by our youth. That’s the power of community. That’s the power of philanthropy at its best!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!