by Kim Chipps, Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps AmeriCorps Member
As a second year AmeriCorps State member serving with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps (MFPC) through my host site of Elder Law of Michigan, I was given the privilege of representing the MFPC as their Michigan AmeriCorps LeaderCorps member. The mission of the LeaderCorps is to strengthen the national service movement and the awareness of AmeriCorps in Michigan though effective outreach, community-wide service projects and civic engagement.
The 22 LeaderCorps members representing all of the statewide AmeriCorps programs attended the Annual Retreat held at Shanty Creek in Bellaire, Michigan. The Retreat focused on effective leadership, communication and ways to better ensure that Michigan’s AmeriCorps program continues to thrive. As a young professional, it was a fantastic experience and opportunity to network, learn and build friendships with like-mind individuals sharing a common goal of improving their communities though service from across Michigan.
Through the Retreat’s seminars, I discovered my leadership style and how I tend to work in different situations. I learned more about ways to facilitate groups and how to be conscientious of small details that set the tone for trainings. Some of the group facilitation techniques that I learned centered around group inclusion through teamwork or ice breakers that tie into the overall message of the workshop. In addition, easily understood rules create better opportunities for everybody in the group to engage in an activity.
The Retreat aims to do more than the development of individual leadership skills. Teams were established to target specific areas that the LeaderCorps members will strive for throughout the year. I serve on the LeaderCorps diversity and inclusion team, with one goal vocalizing the open availability of the AmeriCorps program and other volunteer opportunities to all people. One really great story as a result of this type of outreach is that several AmeriCorps programs across Michigan were able to build raised garden beds in their communities, allowing for those with disabilities to better utilize their community gardens and participate.
Regardless of your background or interests, everyone can make a difference through service. The diversity and inclusion team hopes to inspire new involvement by promoting this message and idea of reaching out to a group in their community who has not traditionally been involved before. Just because they have never been, doesn’t mean that they never will and we hope to truly engage more people in community service simply by asking them to participate.
One of the most inspiring parts of the Annual Retreat was listening to each LeaderCorps member share how their AmeriCorps program is making difference in Michigan’s communities. These stories renewed my passion for service, leaving me excited to return to my program. I hope that I will make a difference through service for my community and for homeowners facing foreclosure. With that in mind, I encourage you to realize that doing great things has more to do with greatness of heart than anything else. These are the kinds of actions that change the world, no matter how small they may seem.
For the rest of the year, LeaderCorps hopes to strengthen the AmeriCorps program in Michigan through cross-program promotion, communication and collaboration. Keep an eye out for how you can service Michigan’s communities or take advantage of upcoming opportunities to get involved with Michigan’s AmeriCorps.
Kim Chipps is an AmeriCorps member at Elder Law in Lansing.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.