Hello again my fellow service members! It is hard to believe that my year of service is nearing its’ end, but at the same time looking back at what this year has entailed; I cannot believe how productive, enlightening and eye opening it has been. The community that I am serving is also where I grew up and where my family calls home, so being able to create strides towards making positive changes within my own community has been more gratifying that I am able to put into words.
Throughout this past year, I have had the privilege of being part of an organization that thinks “outside the box” in regards to programs that are offered, partnerships/collaborations that are established and strategizing for the future of the community. TrueNorth asked me, the current VISTA member to help create an employment program; one that takes into consideration what our residents need, identify current and potential partnerships/collaborations for increasing employment levels and challenged me to come up with ideas on how to implement employability into the multitude of services that they currently provide. TEAM (TrueNorth Employment Access & Mentoring) is the employment program that has since been implemented into the organization.
Other events, community building projects and service learning opportunities that I have taken part in this year include; Senior Luncheon, Children’s Christmas Program, Tools for School, Newaygo County Partners in Prevention and Recovery, Degreed to Succeed, Empty Bowls, Senior Care Expo, Community of Efforts Volunteer Dinner, Toastmasters International, SOAR Community Stakeholders meeting, Newaygo County Collaborative meeting, 9/11 Day of Service, National Service Roundtable, Community Picnic, Leadership Luncheons, Employment Networking Peer Support Groups and many, many more…
It is hard to express in words what this last year has meant to me, and how grateful I am to CNCS, MNA and to TrueNorth Community Services, but what I can say is that these past twelve months have and will forever hold a place near and dear to my heart. The relationships, experiences, and challenges that I have come across throughout my service year, have given me insight to the possibilities that may lie ahead.
“We empower people and strengthen community to inspire hope and build a brighter future.” That is the mission statement of TrueNorth Community Services, the non-profit that I, Sheena Threatt, am currently serving at as an AmeriCorps VISTA. We are located in Fremont, part of Newaygo County, a rural area that boasts beautiful lakes, rivers, wildlife, and some of the most absolute breathtaking scenery ever, and is the place that I have graciously called home for over thirty years. Even though this part of the “mitten state” may be known for its’ secretive treasures of beauty, it also contains significant poverty and a vast number of barriers to self-sufficiency that individuals and families face on a daily basis.
During my year of service here at TrueNorth, I am tasked with conducting research and assessment to identify gaps in employment services and establishing a program that addresses these gaps to help people build their skills and get jobs. This program, called TrueNorth Employment Access & Mentoring (TEAM), has a mission of bridging the gap between employers and potential employees by providing education, guidance, and empowerment. TEAM is a natural extension of TrueNorth’s client centered service delivery system, creating a relationship that inspires hope, self-confidence, and belief in the ability to become successful.
I have the privilege of working with the staff of TrueNorth and alongside the Volunteer Resource Center of Newaygo County, creating a community network of partnerships and collaborations, which includes; Michigan Works!, WE CAN! Newaygo County, Center for Nonprofit Housing, Western Regional Area Health Education Center (AHEC), and employers throughout the area. Together we will tackle social, economic, and educational disparities that resident’s face, by bringing the community together to get to the core of the causes and combining our resources to overcome them.
I have done an array of different things to help TEAM increase employability:
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!