volunteering

Families & Community
4:55 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

This one thing meant the world to a runaway teen

Veronica Riddle ran away from home as a teenager. She wants people to know that spending time and talking with troubled youth can be a big deal. Here's why.

Martin Luther King Jr.
12:10 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Honoring Dr. King by volunteering

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many people in Michigan are using this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to volunteer.  

In Lansing, volunteers are clearing invasive plant species from the Fenner Nature Center. Brendon Fegan is an Americorps volunteer. He says helping your local community is a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy.  

"Community is vitally important in people’s lives," said Fegan, "You can’t do anything without a strong community.  Look for anyway to give back to your community and help other people.”    

The King holiday is also being marked by marches and church services around Michigan.

Volunteering
12:00 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Michigan wants YOU to volunteer

Thanksgiving day volunteers in NYC
Flickr notladj

About 2.3 million people volunteer in Michigan each year. But the state wants even more people to lend a helping hand.

Paula Kaiser VanDam is the executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission. Even though the holidays are a time when people are feeling especially generous, Kaiser VanDam hopes people will share their time and their selves throughout the year.

“There are volunteer opportunities all year long and we hope people would consider that kind of giving as well.”

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What's Working
12:06 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Volunteers paint Ann Arbor schools

Paint for Kids founder Gene Firn after a painting project at Lawton elementary in Ann Arbor. The ball of tape measures 3 ft in diameter.

Gene Firn is the founder of Paint for Kids, an Ann Arbor-based organization that mobilizes parents and community volunteers to paint schools.

Firn, who teaches a DIY painting class, was looking for practice walls for his students when he learned that the Ann Arbor school system doesn't have a painting department. He thought he could help, so he submitted a proposal.

The concept is simple: an experienced painter supervises parent volunteers as they transform hallways and classrooms over holiday weekends.

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Firn, who said that Paint for Kids fulfills the needs of local schools, but also attempts to create a culture of volunteering.

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What's Working
9:50 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Day of service expands in Lansing

The Grand River in Lansing
user brianhef / flickr

This week’s guest for “What’s Working” is Julie Powers, the Director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Ms. Powers has been involved in the planning and organizing of a day of community service in Lansing, set to happen this year on May 14th. The event is entitled, “Adopt-Your-Place.”

Volunteers will be led by event organizers in such tasks as water testing and clean-up along the Grand River, planting and mulching public gardens throughout the area, clearing trails, repairing eyesores, and generally giving some TLC to local sites in need.

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Economy
2:05 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

Michigan gas prices getting closer to $4

Gas prices in Michigan are now averaging $3.75 a gallon. AAA Michigan reports gas prices are up $0.91 from this time last year.

This is affecting Michiganders in different ways, some in their jobs, and some in how they volunteer.

Tasha Stetler is the Meals On Wheels Supervisor for Ingam County. She says many volunteers continued to drive for Meals on Wheels when gas prices rose to over $3 a gallon.  

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What's Working
6:12 am
Mon April 4, 2011

Bike program for kids rolling in Kalamazoo

Ethan Alexander (far left) of the Open Roads Bike program speaks to a group of kids in Kalamazoo
Eric Sweet

This week, we’re changing it up a bit for our “What’s Working” series. Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley is welcoming Michigan Radio Reporter Kyle Norris into the studio to talk about a program in a Kalamazoo neighborhood that revolves around bikes.

Resident Ethan Alexander has organized a program called the Open Roads Bike Program, which teaches kids about bike maintenance. The children learn to perform a number of tasks involved in repairing and taking care of bikes. When they’ve completed all of the tasks, they are rewarded with a bike of their own.

But the bikes are not the only focus of the program. While learning how to take care of bikes provides the children with a sense of accomplishment and pride, Alexander makes sure the kids learn how to respect and get to know one another.

Kyle Norris recently attended a regularly held workshop event in the neighborhood called “Fixapalooza,” where she got to witness what the program has to offer first-hand. She says the atmosphere was similar to that of a block party, plus bikes – many, many bikes.

“It was a total party. There was Michael Jackson on a boom box, blasting. There was pizza. There was a dog running around. And there were a lot of kids, and adults, too, and bikes – bikes flipped over, adults working on bikes, kids working on bikes.”

The program got started when Edison neighborhood resident Ethan Alexander combined two things he had in excess: bikes and an understanding of how to work with children. Norris says it all got started about three years ago.

“He actually created it because he had a lot of bikes kicking around. I think he’s sort of a bike-head, so he had a lot of bikes. But he’s also a social worker, and he knows how to work with kids and get kids to work on their social skills and work on becoming better kids. So he kind of put the two loves together.”

The children who participate in the program don’t have to come very far to join in the fun, says Norris.

“Many of them come from this Edison neighborhood. They come, literally, down the street. Maybe single-family homes, maybe economically challenged.”

Alexander says the program gives the children a sense of confidence that they may not have in other areas of their lives.        

“A lot of these kids may not be successful in school. They may not be successful in other avenues. But you put a wrench in their hand, or you put a screwdriver in their hand, and that’s when they kind of light up, that’s when they get excited, and say, ‘Oh, I can do this. This is something I can do.’ And they’re valued and they start to believe in themselves and their abilities.”

After hanging out at Fixapalooza, Norris describes Mr. Alexander as a “zippy” guy. She says his leadership creates the atmosphere of respect.

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Education
3:28 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

State officials hope more adults will mentor young people

Michigan is in need of more volunteers, especially men State of Michigan

Plenty of kids in Michigan need an adult mentor.  That’s according to Paula Kaiser VanDam, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission.

“This year the network of mentoring organizations that we work with are serving about 24,000 children. What we know is that there are thousands more kids that want a mentor that currently do not have one.”

Kaiser VanDam says the time commitment is one hour per week. Mentors are expected to spend time with their young person and listen to them.

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Offbeat
1:51 pm
Thu November 25, 2010

Thousands in need served hot Thanksgiving meal in Grand Rapids

Volunteers serve Thanksgiving at DeVos Place
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

More than 600 volunteers served people in need a hot Thanksgiving meal today in Grand Rapids. Thousands of homeless, elderly, sick and downtrodden came for the feast.

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