MFOC Members Reflect on their Year of Service

Twenty dedicated Michiganders are coming to the end of their service year with the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps (MFOC) AmeriCorps program, a program hosted by CEDAM. Even though their service terms are only a year, the impacts the members have made on Michigan communities, the organizations at which they serve and the individuals they’ve assisted, will last a lifetime.

Such is the case for MFOC member Lily Fossel, who noticed potential areas of improvement during the 2017 VITA tax season. Serving at New Development Corps in Grand Rapids, Fossel wasn’t happy to sit by and let identified issues crop up again next year. Instead, she created a survey that found areas of opportunity within volunteer training and support, and created an improved volunteer training program for the 2018 tax season.

“Our small program works to grow, learn and adapt, and it has become increasingly clear that the frontline of that growth must be in the knowledge and confidence of our volunteers,” Fossel said. “As we move together toward an annual 1000 returns, I am thrilled to be able to continue my service in VITA training by honing a new program for next tax year, having learned so much myself from this extraordinary, committed, compassionate VITA team.”

MFOC member Kristi Hart, who serves in St. Ignace at H.O.M.E. of Mackinac County, has learned the importance of accessing resources during her service year. While there are a variety of ways that a homeowner can fall through the cracks and face foreclosure, Hart found that many of her clients weren’t accessing the homestead tax credit. The homestead credit is focused on helping low- to moderate- income homeowners save during tax time on their primary residence. However, in order to be eligible, paperwork must be completed prior to filing for taxes. Hart has spent time making sure everyone who walks through the door of her organization knows about this opportunity.

On August 1, 2017, MFOC members spent the evening watching a Lansing Lugnuts game to celebrate their year of service and their accomplishments
On August 1, 2017, MFOC members spent the evening watching a Lansing Lugnuts game to celebrate their year of service and their accomplishments

“I am happy to go the extra mile to find all the resources possible for those who are struggling to make ends meet,” Hart said.

For Kim Yost, going above and beyond of what was expected of her paid off — literally. All MFOC members are required to track clients who attend financial education classes through a database management system. However, Yost’s host site encouraged her to go further to prove the impact of her service. By tracking the knowledge gain of her students through the results of pre- and post-tests, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency had the ability to include valuable data for grants and secure additional funding sources.

These stories are just three of thousands of ways that AmeriCorps members get things done in Michigan. As the 2017-18 Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps program year comes to a close, CEDAM would like to say thank you to the members for the tremendous impact they’ve made in the communities for which they served.