Jennifer Burger - "National Service Members Supporting Change in Flint Community Schools and Community "
Whew! I am coming up on my second full-term in AmeriCorps and my final month as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, it is incredible to see what one person can accomplish within two years of National Service! As an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with the University of Michigan-Flint, I have been able to support the revitalization of Community Education within Flint Community Schools. Within the last year the Crim Fitness Foundation, in partnership with the C.S. Mott Foundation, the United Way of Genesee County, and many, many other partners have worked diligently to offer my community, the Flint Community, a holistic approach to supporting our residents in achieving a healthy and successful life. Although our team put in a lot of long-days and dealt with challenging situation, at the end of my term I feel so accomplished because of all of the work we completed and the partnerships we fostered. I wish I could tell you about all of the work we accomplished, but you’ll have to wait for when I have time to write a book about my time in National Service!
Instead of giving you a book, I am going to tell you all about my favorite AmeriCorps VISTA service. As an AmeriCorps VISTA member, I was able to work with a group of residents and community partners, such as the Crim Fitness Foundation, to start a Crim Community Walking/Running Club. My work with the residents surrounding the Brownell- Holmes STEM Academy in Flint, MI, has given me a greater insight into the work of community organizers. The work did not come without challenges, but honestly, it all came down to persistence and taking the first step. With the Walking/Running Club, it literally was just taking that first step! Over the summer our Walking/Running Club officially met weekly, but participants met throughout the week. We were able to increase our distance from a half mile to over four miles! In the month of August, now that Summer School is over, the group will be hosting 45 minute health and wellness education workshops before our group. The Walking/Running Group also had a great impact in the community. Throughout the summer, residents surrounding the school have come to know our group as the “Crim Group”, as we take over their streets on Monday afternoons. The Walking/Running Group’s presence in the neighborhood impacts neighborhood safety and allows neighbors to know that their neighborhood is a place where people want to be.
After my service term, I am happy to say I have been offered a position within the Community Education Initiative as the Community School Assistant with the Crim Fitness Foundation. Much of my work will be surrounding the Community Education Initiative and supporting the work of the Community School Corps Operation AmeriCorps grant, which the City of Flint was awarded through CNCS. In Flint, we are excited to create partnerships with schools, in order to increase access to a happy and healthy life for all of Flint residents!
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!