[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.]
Being involved in AmeriCorps and the foreclosure prevention effort has taught me many valuable lessons that I hope to carry with me in the future. Through my AmeriCorps service, I have come to realize that I have a great passion for poverty reduction and awareness. Much of the poverty in our area comes from average middle class people. Many of these people are builders, construction workers, landscapers, and small business owners. Because of the bad economy in an area that is already based mostly on seasonal income, these people have no work. Some might tell people to “just go out and get a job,” but many tradespersons have no other skills, and other jobs are scarce.
On Wednesday, February 2nd, the United Way in Charlevoix/Emmet counties held its annual “Project Connect” resource fair. This event provided many free services such as haircuts, tax preparation, help with applying for assistance and benefits, and job search assistance. There was also free clothing, bags of groceries, personal care items and diapers and toys available. Many of the attendees are now homeless or living in conditions that they would have not even imagined 2 years ago. Fifteen percent of last year’s 679 attendees were homeless, 62% were unemployed, and 58% of the attendees were there for the first time. This event is paid for by donations of cash, time, products, and services by local businesses, charities, and residents.
I feel that our communities are seeing the effect of the economy and realizing that our residents who are poor, homeless, or struggling are no different from anyone else. There is less judgment out there today, and the community is coming together to help our residents in need. I am so proud that I am part of this community and am able to share resources and ideas to assist people in times of need.