Voices of AmeriCorps – Latitia Garthe-Shiner

[This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of AmeriCorps Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. Click here for information about the program.]

My name is Latitia Garthe-Shiner and I serve with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps. When I first graduated from Central Michigan University in May 2009, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my new degree. I had just earned a BS in Sociology and knew that whatever I did, it would have to be in the non-profit sector. I had worked in the corporate world in the past and knew it just wasn’t for me.

I wanted to start by giving back to the community I had been raised in. This led me to researching agencies in the Traverse City area, and I found an internship at the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA). During the three months I had interned there, I learned so much. I learned so much about the area; I learned about the people living in the community, the resources available to the people living in the community, and most of all I learned how much people were struggling in rural Northwest Michigan.

As my internship was coming to an end, I learned that there was an AmeriCorps position being interviewed for at NMCAA. The position was for a member who would be serving with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps. I knew nothing about foreclosures, but knew that they were becoming more and more widespread in the 10-county area of Northwest Michigan that NMCAA served. I also knew that after a summer of being made more aware of the struggles the economy had brought upon members of my community, I couldn’t just up and leave. I wanted to become more involved. I interviewed for the position and was accepted into the AmeriCorps program.

I am currently in my second year with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps and am still as engaged as I was the day I started. At NMCAA, I help with the intake for foreclosure clients. I also assist or foreclosure prevention counselors in putting on weekly workshops to educate clients on their options when facing a foreclosure on their homes. One of my favorite parts of the position is the recruitment, training, and managing of volunteers for the agency. I have met some wonderful people who share my ideals and are so willing to selflessly give their time help their neighbors on a weekly basis.

When my second service year wraps up in October 2011, I know that I will be looking for a job that incorporates all I have learned about community service through the AmeriCorps program. After seeing how much potential I have to make a difference, and how willing others are to serve their communities as well, I know that community service will be a lifelong commitment for me.