Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, May 13, 2010

AmeriCorps workers help out across Michigan during week of service

Members of U-M’s AmeriCorps program are observing a nationwide week of service.

The 89 members of the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership, a program of the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, are collaborating with other AmeriCorps programs across the state this week on large-scale service projects in the Detroit area and western Michigan.

Justin Gawlik, a U-M alumnus and member of the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership, builds a planting bed for a community garden at Walter White Community Resource Center in River Rouge. (Photo by Rachel Freedman-Doan)

“AmeriCorps Week was created to promote community service and educate people about the AmeriCorps program,” says Addell Austin Anderson, director of the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership. “We are proud to be a part of events that will showcase the power of service.”

Many AmeriCorps members said the program has helped them make the transition from college or graduate programs to the working world.

Joanne Hsu, who completed her Master’s of Public Health at U-M this year, was placed as an AmeriCorps member with Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit. Hsu will evaluate a food bank program designed to broaden access to groceries, and said AmeriCorps attracted her because it offered a chance to apply her new academic skills.

Rachel Freedman-Doan, whose AmeriCorps assignment is to direct U-M’s Interfaith Action program, studied religion in college.

“AmeriCorps offered me a way to apply what I learned in college,” says Freedman-Doan. “It’s a great ‘gap-year’ program that has helped me plan my future career.”

On Monday, 160 AmeriCorps members, including U-M students and alumni, worked with residents in River Rouge to prepare community gardens for planting, clean up neighborhoods and schools, paint murals, and run a rummage sale and a children’s carnival.

On Friday and Saturday, the Michigan AmeriCorps Paratnership participants will travel to Kalamazoo, where they will work with Habitat for Humanity and other AmeriCorps programs at a park, senior center and other sites around the area.

AmeriCorps is a national program, similar to the Peace Corps, in which members give a year or summer of service to their communities. AmeriCorps members work with grassroots community organizations and government agencies, tutoring and mentoring youth, building affordable housing, teaching computer skills, cleaning parks and streams, and recruiting volunteers. They receive a federal stipend and education grant for their service.