CEDAM AmeriCorps Member Feature: Alex Makohn Serves to Empower Detroit Residents

By Christopher Wardell, administrative assistant

CEDAM AmeriCorps member Alexandra Makohn recently graduated from Michigan State with a BA in international development, but before starting her full-time career, she wanted another experience.

She saw a real need to help people live and afford a home in her own neighborhood, so she set out to find ways she might be able to make a difference.

This is when she discovered CEDAM’s AmeriCorps program.

Makohn, who’s been an AmeriCorps member since last September, serves at CEDAM member Southwest Economic Solutions in Detroit. Makohn assists in providing financial empowerment services, as well as foreclosure prevention. More recently, Makohn led the planning for one of the 11 Detroit Show Me the Money Day events, which is March 1 at Southwest Economic Solutions.

Show Me the Money Day is a free event that features free and low-cost financial products, community resources, financial workshops and fun. Local events are held annually across Michigan from January to February to kick off tax season and promote opportunities to increase income, save and build assets.

Alex Makohn helps a client
Makohn serves at Southwest Economic Solutions doing foreclosure prevention intake at the Detroit Property Tax Exemptions workshops they host monthly

“The importance of this event is that it will offer critical support services that often go unaddressed or that there is not enough capacity at a single organization to provide,” Makohn said. “It is exciting seeing it all come together as we near our event. I am sure that the feeling after holding the event will be very rewarding.”

Makohn, who grew up in Detroit, wanted to help her community, and in particular, help people stay in their homes.  

“I feel that helping people preserve their homeownership is essential to the resurgence of the city of Detroit,” she said. “Knowing about the injustices that many Detroit homeowners faced during this tax foreclosure crisis, I was intrigued to learn more from behind the scenes. After learning about the tax foreclosure process and how many people and families that it has affected and still is affecting, I realized that this work is so important. There is a huge gap in education about how property taxes work and the relationship between the city and the county. In this gap lies the scammers, who take advantage of people and the local government, who act as a collections agency (and banks off of it).”

Makohn knows there’s much work to be done as she enters the tax season and her fifth month of service with AmeriCorps— and the work has been fulfilling.

“During my service year to date, the most rewarding part for me has been the relationships I have built with people,” Makohn said. “Whether it is my colleague or one of the community members I have helped, it is a great feeling knowing that you have impacted each other’s lives.”

Bobby Siporin, manager of financial stability programs for Southwest Economic Solutions, said having Makohn serve at his organization is already making an impact.

Makohn serves at Southwest Economic Solutions doing foreclosure prevention intake at the Detroit Property Tax Exemptions workshops they host monthly

“In short time, Alex has become a valued member of our team,” Siporin said. “She is increasing our capacity to serve clients facing foreclosure and assisting with building out our Salesforce platform. Alex is the lead coordinator for our Show Me the Money workshop this year, and has built strong connections with area partners to ensure the event will be a success.”

Along with financial empowerment and foreclosure prevention, Makohn is always looking for other areas where she can help. She’s hoping her service as an AmeriCorps member will help translate into a career in the nonprofit field someday.

“Moving forward, I hope to continue building relationships in our community and networking with different people to advance my future professional career,” Makohn said. “I also hope to keep learning new skills that I may not have had before my year as an AmeriCorps member.”

For more information about Show Me the Money Day and the AmeriCorps program, visit cedamichigan.org.