“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. And we have a choice: What sort of difference do we want to make?” Jane Goodall. I stumbled upon this quote earlier this year and it really resonated in what I saw in my community and service this year and I want to touch on some of that.
In my last blog post, I discussed my excitement for an upcoming Day of Service I was planning through the West Michigan AmeriCorps Collaborative (WMAC) for Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), it went absolutely AMAZING! Throughout the day I had a constant smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Through supportive partnerships with WMAC, T.E.A.M. 21, Oriole Park Elementary, and the community, the school participated in 42 service-learning projects! Some projects consisted of decorating Kids Food Basket sack suppers, making sun catchers for the Home for Veterans, making fleece blankets for the Helen Devos Children's Hospital, making dog toys for the Humane Society, assembling birthday boxes for Baxter Community Center, making inspirational cards for Degage Ministries, doing a schoolyard beautification/planting flowers, planting trees, making bird feeders, and building raised garden beds! All of this was facilitated and led by AmeriCorps service members and amazingly supported by Oriole educators and students! Such a difference was made on this day and seeing how the students viewed their impact was so incredibly empowering.
Photos of GYSD: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.817103551672778.1073741984.172476226135517&
This past April, I also had the pleasure of seeing a much awaited and planned for project take place. Crestwood Elementary worked very hard to organize an Empty Bowls event and their success was so heartwarming! The school was able to obtain a grant for ceramic supplies, donations for food from Gordon Food Services and The Gilmore Collection, and have media present for their Empty Bowls dinner on April 21. Each student made a clay bowl to represent the empty belly of a hungry child in art class. To support this, each classroom participated in at least one in-class service-learning project, such as building a sack supper diagram, blue sky, writing essays, making posters, and educational PSA’s. At the dinner, families had the opportunity to view all the of the in-class projects as well as pick up their children’s bowl, and families have the chance to donate to Kids Food Basket, an organization that feeds over 6,000 students dinner in West Michigan everyday! One-hundred percent of the donations went to Kids Food Basket and at a celebration assembly held by Kids Food Basket at Crestwood, the school presented them with a check for $3,400, which will feed 3,400 children! Seeing the hard work, dedication, and compassion of the educators, students, and families at Crestwood was truly rewarding in respect to seeing the difference one can verses what all can make.
Photos of Empty Bowls: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.822469587802841.1073741985.172476226135517&
4th Grader’s Kids Food Basket PSA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LRoBO3zdRc&feature=youtu.be
Over the course of my service year, I have been wanting to create sustainability in my work and how I can create a platform for my partners to use to utilize all of these resources and tools. I created a website: http://tlmkentcoservicelearning.weebly.com/ ! This site provides users with community organizations and contact information, service-learning ‘how-to’ project documents, environmentally based service-learning project documents, and information about opportunities such as Fisher Training and our Youth Service & Leadership Camp. I am confident that this site will allow educators to better incorporate service-learning and philanthropy opportunities into their classes and am happy to create this stronger sense in my community!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!