Since I have been at United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), I have assisted with both mortgage and tax counseling. Considering the fact that Detroiters have not been working for many, many years (at least not consistently for most), those who have been able to purchase homes did so outright and therefore did not get a mortgage. Much of my work involves tax issues – folks often cannot pay their taxes because the assistance they obtain from the government or past employment is just not enough to live on, let alone use to pay taxes. I have been involved in the intake process, the auction, obtaining of deeds, and I am learning so much about the city of Detroit.
On Saturday, December 10th, I held a workshop (with the assistance of my supervisor Kim) on weatherization for over seventy people and we helped folks apply for assistance. We are hoping it works out so we can keep many folks warm in the future! So many of them are seniors and/or have children in their home and I was happy to be able to help them because they do not know where to go to even apply for such programs. They do not have access to the internet so they rely on us for help.
My coworkers as well as clients are such wonderful people and I am so very fortunate to have been placed at this site. There is so much heart in the city of Detroit and I hope all of the AmeriCorps members are having the experience that I am having. When I first started my service I was very much surprised to see the suffering that these folks were going through because I, like most Americans (even Michiganders, sadly), do not know anything about Detroit. These people are not going through a “housing crisis”, they are dealing with being left behind and they need help. They are good people who need another chance at life and happiness. UCHC, along with Michigan Legal Services, busts their behinds to make sure that happens. I am so proud to work with people who see the city (and its people) for what it is and what it can be, and not for the emptiness that most Americans see when they look at Detroit.
Ted Phillips, the Executive Director, has been involved with UCHC for many years and I hope someday you get the chance to meet him. There really is no one like him. He has a heart of gold and I have learned a great deal from him. He has been fighting for his community for a very long time as an attorney, and I hope someday to have the selfless type of work ethic that he does. Both Ted and Kim have taught me a great deal about working in a nonprofit and put a lot of trust in me and my work. I do not feel as though I am “the AmeriCorps person” just put here for a year. When I was brought in they were ready to teach me from the beginning and have always expected the best from me. I appreciate that. I feel as though I am part of their team each and every day and I look forward to getting up and heading in to the office each morning!
Alright, there is my story, only three months in. I can’t wait to see what awaits me during the next nine months! It’s going to be busy, but I know it will be wonderful.
Katie Gladki is an AmeriCorps member at United Community Housing Coalition.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan Foreclosure Prevention AmeriCorps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.