Hello all, I am Missy Wright, serving with Char-Em United Way (CEUW) in Petoskey, MI. It has been five months since my last blog post, and we’ve been very busy. This spring we held Citizen Review Panels, where citizens of Charlevoix and Emmet Counties listen to presentations from our grant applicants and make suggestions for allocating funds to local agencies. It was a great experience for me getting to sit in on grant reviews, and it’s a nice way to involve the community in ensuring that funding goes where it’s most needed. After that we had to focus on planning our next event, the Instant Wine Cellar event at Boyne Highlands. This is a fundraiser to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and it features a chance to win a collection of beer and wine. I was responsible for volunteer coordination and assisting with marketing. It was a really fun event for a great cause.
After Instant Wine Cellar, most of my time was dedicated to finalizing plans for Day of Action, an annual event where United Ways all over the country organize volunteer events to make the most of the longest day of the year, June 21st. CEUW sends volunteers out to childcare centers and libraries every year to read to kids and distribute literacy kits. This year we had seven locations and about 150 children. Every child got a kit with a nursery rhyme book, activity book, coloring sheets, pencil, eraser, crayons, and a local Family Resource Guide. I planned this year’s event, and I learned a lot from the experience. I loved watching the kids interacting with the volunteer readers and getting excited about books.
Our next big event will be Char-Em United Way’s Campaign Kick-Off, which is being held at the first annual Boyne City PirateFest next month. I love pirate-themed things, so I’m pretty excited for this one. We are helping with planning and volunteer coordination and will be organizing and staffing a beverage tent on August 10th, and on August 11th CEUW will rally the citizens to chase the pirates out of town. It will be a great demonstration of how CEUW strives to unite and support the citizens of Charlevoix and Emmet Counties and a fantastic end to my year of service. These are just a few of the things I’ve been busy with over the past several months; I also staffed a house for Parade of Homes, attended health fairs, partnered with local organizations to find volunteers for their needs, and so much more. I am currently working on finding and training regular volunteers to take over some of the things that I’ve been doing this year since there will not be a new VISTA in my position when I leave. For my last month here I will be focusing on making sure that the work that the past VISTAs and I have done is sustainable without creating too much extra work for the CEUW staff. I have learned so much this year, and I am grateful for all of the people I’ve gotten to know, and the experiences I’ve had while working with Char-Em United Way.