Hello, everyone! This is Kevin Cunningham serving in Southfield, Michigan as a financial literacy aid to Lawrence Technological University and the general Southfield public. I have split my time between my space at my host site, Lawrence Technological University, and my community partner, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). Within these two capacities, I have noticed that my tasks and duties vary and target different age groups, but my overall goals and projects remain consistent and connected. In other words, I focus on providing financial capability assistance in both spaces; however, my time at LTU is spent, to name a few examples, focusing more on budgeting workshops, presenting ideas to counter identity theft, and bringing up fresh and new ways that can allow students to gain a great social experience without overspending; while my time at JVS is spent aiding people dealing with past-due property taxes or experiencing foreclosure. So most of my time at JVS is spent drudging through piles of mortgage documents, auditing client files for financial counselors, and sending letters who have received or denied funding from the Michigan Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
Working with both LTU and JVS I have been able to extend each organizations network. This is the first year that this community partnership between these two organizations has existed. Since the establishment of this partnership I have partnered LTU with a sister company of JVS, eCycle Opportunities (ECO), where LTU will give an in-kind donation of used electronic equipment to be completely stripped down and recycled. This is a wonderful partnership because it not only reduces waste in landfills, but also ECO hires people with disabilities to completely dissemble all equipment donated and all money generated is then supplemented into other services that JVS provides. So far, LTU has donated over three palates of computers with each computer valued at $2,500. In turn, these donations create a ripple effect that stimulates jobs, allows more people to receive services that they require, and reduces levels of waste. As part of America Recycles Day I worked with ECO to create an eCycle drive where people from all over the area where able to drop off electronics they no longer needed. I was able to aid with volunteer numbers by reaching out to the LTU student body and finding volunteers. The event was such a success that eCycle Opportunities and myself are planning on having an LTU on-site eCycle drive in the Spring.
My work has taken me into many different areas of the Metro-Detroit area. Since starting, I have gone to resource fairs to distribute pamphlets on materials available in the area to people in need of assistance. I was able to create a 10 page document of resources addressing different areas (with addresses, websites, and phone numbers) for JVS clients. Likewise, I have started to volunteer at the local high school as a wrestling coach. I have enjoyed this immensely.
The most difficult part of my service has been communication. Many times I find myself going into a meeting and being told that someone would love to assist in an upcoming project; unfortunately, I will not receive any word from that after that initial contact. This has been difficult and somewhat discouraging, but I think that I can readjust my approach and become more successful.
If anyone wants to see Southfield and what it has to offer, I would love to show you around. However, I only have a full-sized bed….so you will have to get a hotel. Best wishes to everyone and I hope you all have a great holiday season.
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