Hello, my name is Jake Pollock and I am a first year VISTA at Ferris State University working with the Honors Program there and the Big Rapids Housing Commission. I work on service learning projects for honors students and financial literacy for the housing commission residents. Having just graduated from a university, I am very comfortable working at Ferris with the students, professors, and staff. I love the productivity and opportunities that the college environment provides. The housing commission on the other hand is a whole different beast. With low income residents and staff much older than I, it seemed like an intimidating and strange place for me to work. Although it seemed like a difficult place in the beginning, I am starting to appreciate the varying communities that live at the housing commission. Big Rapids may be a small community, but it has a lot to offer and I have come to appreciate its diversity.
The very first project I worked on and which I alluded to in the title was “Day of Service and Learning”. This was a great project to get my feet wet in my new community. The project included several nonprofit organizations in the community and 8 different projects which were intended to be on a single day. That didn’t work out so smoothly due to time conflicts across the board. I quickly became acquainted with many students through this project and also many members of the community. It felt really good to see actual results of my efforts so quickly in my position, but this leaves me with high expectations to live up to for the rest of my term. I am hoping to turn my passion of environmental activism into a week of events in the spring that will reach such a high goal (this is also my VISTA Year Initiative). With all variety of events, projects, service opportunities, and extensive collaboration between the Ferris community and the Big Rapids community.
What I have learned to appreciate in this beginning part of my VISTA year is that collaboration is key. Working on campus there are plenty of motivated students in RSOs (Registered Student Organizations if you’re unfamiliar) to help create service projects and source volunteers. Off campus I found a useful group to work with, the Human Service Coordinating Body of Mecosta-Osceola counties. This group constantly provides me with new opportunities and ideas to integrate Ferris and Big Rapids. The opportunities for collaboration never seem to end and the ideas that I can’t come up with on my own are brought to me from students and the community.
I look forward to seeing what my VISTA year has in store and can’t even imagine what to expect next from the communities I am working with. Only time will tell as they say. Hug a tree and get ready to hear about a spectacular Earth Week from Ferris State University and Big Rapids community!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!