Hey there fellow VISTAs, this has been an eventful first half of the year. I started the year getting an alternative weekend group from Central Michigan University to come up north and help with some demolition of the inside of a building for the River House Domestic Violence Shelter’s new resale shop. Hard working and energetic people helped to clear out all of the old garbage to begin the renovations. I have also helped coordinate many domestic and sexual violence awareness events, starting with a balloon launch, on Kirtland Community College’s campus. These events not only raise awareness but also honor survivors. Throughout the semester community members and students/faculty took time out of their schedule to create ceramic bowls and cups for Kirtland’s annual Empty Bowls Project. This project raises money for River House to help support their outreach programs.
In November, I helped the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society on campus to raise money to purchase a food truck to hand out just before Thanksgiving. We fed over 500 families for the holidays. I am also a board member and volunteer with St. Helen Helping Hands, and during the Christmas season our group has its busiest time of year. The weeks leading to Christmas we unload trucks and organize donations. This year we were able to provide each family with a 20-pound turkey and milk, along with all kinds of non-perishable canned foods. The giving didn’t stop there; the St. Helen Helping Hands also shops for gifts for each person in the families. Our mission is that no child or senior citizen goes without for Christmas here in Richfield Township. The community fundraises all year long and in 2015 raised a little over $19,000, all of which went to the families in need.
For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, I worked with a history instructor here at Kirtland to put together an informational video, which we played on a loop in the student lounge. Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/-UvjdndNfn4. In January, I also worked on fundraising events for River House, including the Hoops for the House basketball tournament and Chili Cook-off. I’ve also been hard at work on the Employability Workshop, which I am coordinating with Michigan Works! and local businesses. This workshop helps students prepare for the job market by providing information on resumes and interviewing, as well as providing information on job fairs ideas and connecting them with community resources.
Amidst all these activities and happenings, I have worked on creating a simple flyer for River House that I put up in every female bathroom in all four counties that River House serves. This flyer lists all of the services that River House offers and numbers to call. The ladies can pull a tab with only the phone number on it so if their abuser finds it they won’t know what it’s for. Along with this I am creating a database that will detail the locations of the flyers and a schedule of contacting each one to refill the bathrooms. It has been made a big difference in the communities and many more ladies are able to get help.
Busy is the only way to describe my year so far, but it’s been gratifying. Helping is contagious and energizing. Making a difference rocks!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!