This past fall, we (Volunteers In Service – CFA West Michigan) were pleased to place an Americorps Member in the Westown area of Grand Rapids. Our site partner, The Other Way Ministries, has been a sustaining member of the neighborhood for about forty years, bringing individual and community development opportunities to the residents there. For the past several years, The Other Way Ministries has been partnering with two other near-by community organizations (Servants Community Church and Westown Jubilee Housing) to coordinate community betterment and development efforts. All three members of the partnership worked together to develop the capacity to bring the Americorps program to Westown.
Based upon his history in the neighborhood and his interview, we were not too surprised to discover that the new Americorps Member, Karl Williams got right down to work, introducing himself and engaging local residents in the work of making the neighborhood a better place for all. Among the several ‘small actions’ Karl has already initiated with neighborhood volunteers was connecting some willing volunteers and a community member in need. Here is the brief story in Karl’s own words.
“For the past month, we have had an elderly resident, that has recently gone through surgery. She has received letters from the City, pertaining to her fence being out of code due to vandalism. I met her through community involvement and interaction. I informed her that Americorps has volunteers that could repair her fence to code. Adam Lavas, not pictured, and Terry Williams repaired her fence to code, and our resident forwarded a note stating that she was profusely Glad!!”
These ‘small actions’ go a long way toward changing the character of the neighborhood. Neighbors have the experience of receiving appreciated acts of kindness from other neighborhood residents, who experience the joy of doing something they enjoy for a neighbor. A small action – just a few people involved, but little by little Westown is on the way to a better day – no big expensive programs, just neighbors working together with each other – for each other.
Volunteers In Service
Grand Rapids, Michigan