Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 17, 2012

Forum: AmeriCorps getting things done

By Michael Hill
----

---- — Across Michigan, communities are facing challenges that impact their citizens. But within many of those communities, committed programs and individuals are striving to address these challenges through the service of AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps members voluntarily enlist themselves for a year of intensive service to address community needs. Since 1994, more than 22,000 Michigan individuals have served through AmeriCorps. Currently, 1,022 Michigan's AmeriCorps members are serving in 300 different organizations, including five nonprofits in our community.

These members will provide more than one million hours of service as they address the state's toughest issues — education, homelessness, environment, public safety, and more.

As a Commissioner on the Michigan Community Service Commission, the state agency which administers Michigan's AmeriCorps, I am exceptionally proud of the outstanding members in our state. The small investment of government dollars into these cost-effective service methods is providing a powerful return on investment; benefiting those who serve, those who are served, and the state as a whole.

More than 300 Michigan's AmeriCorps members will travel to Traverse City for the 2012 Russ Mawby Signature Service Project. For two days, these members will serve in our community as they construct a Habitat home, plant trees to reduce erosion, build trails, remove invasive species, and restore historic structures. By the end of the second day, several projects in our community will be completed, thanks to the service of AmeriCorps members.

It is a great privilege to host the 2012 Signature Service Project and I am thrilled to share the powerful impact of AmeriCorps with my community. The visual demonstration of what AmeriCorps members can accomplish in partnership with community members will be truly moving. I hope you will join me in welcoming these members with warm regards and heartfelt thanks for their service.

As a way to honor these dedicated national service members, several community businesses and nonprofits will be hosting a "Celebrate Service" event on Friday at 6:30 p.m. This event, being held at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, will feature a volunteer fair, live music, and more. I invite you to attend the event and join in celebrating Michigan's AmeriCorps. It promises to be a powerful, fun, and exciting weekend in the Traverse Bay area and Grand Traverse region — one I know will inspire you to believe in the value of Michigan's AmeriCorps. As you observe the impact these members will make in our community, remember this effect is multiplied in communities across our state. Michigan's AmeriCorps members are a critical resource, leading the way to a better and brighter Michigan.

Please join me in recognizing the value of Michigan's AmeriCorps this weekend and throughout the year. Spend a few moments with AmeriCorps members at Friday's event, visit their service sites, and help prevent this community resource from being eliminated by asking Congress to safeguard this crucial program.

About the author: Michael Hill is Superintendent of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District and is a commissioner on for the Michigan Community Service Commission.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.