CEDAM’s AmeriCorps Members

Anissa Ben Jaballah, Membership Support Coordinator, Arts Council of Greater Lansing

Anissa contributes to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing by ensuring the organization has the capacity and event support to achieve its goal of highlighting arts and culture in the local community. In the day to day, this translates to managing organizational communications, assisting with volunteer logistics, and event management. Anissa believes that art is powerfully important to the vitality of community. Combining that interest with her specific desire to contribute to Lansing ultimately led her to serving with AmeriCorps. As an artist herself, Anissa was drawn to her position with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to help other artists. In her spare time, she loves to enjoy to a wide range of music and movies.

Cynthia Able, Volunteer Operations Specialist, Brilliant Detroit

Cynthia serves as the Volunteer Specialist for Brilliant Detroit. In this role, she supports the organization with its goal of building kid success in Detroit neighborhoods by identifying new volunteer opportunities, recruiting and training volunteers, and creating efficiencies within the volunteer program. Cynthia is an AmeriCorps VISTA alum who describes the experience as the “best job of her life.” Cynthia continues to be motivated by her willingness and ability to have a good impact on her community. When she’s not uplifting those around her through her work, Cynthia can be persuaded by a great tune to dance.

Kayla Olson, Farmer’s Market and Pantry Specialist, Allen Neighborhood Center

Kayla provides crucial support to the Allen Neighborhood Center’s initiatives to provide healthy, low-cost food to the local community. Specifically, she ensures the Breadbasket Pantry and Allen Farmer’s Market have the logistical and resource support to run effectively and sustainably. Following her first year with AmeriCorps, Kayla wanted to sign on for another year to expand on her knowledge and experience. More specifically, during her time at Finlandia University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, Kayla volunteered to build a food pantry. With her current AmeriCorps role, she’s now able to help run one. She loves learning, especially languages and piano!

Brandon Bryant, Community Support Liaison, Communities First, Inc.

Finding folks who are willing to give back to their communities isn’t always easy; Brandon’s role is geared at that work. Through his role, he aims to recruit volunteers for his host organization, train those volunteers, and work with organization staff to coordinate these volunteers within a broader framework invested in bettering the local community. Brandon was excited by the uplifting professional development offered by working with AmeriCorps and CEDAM; combine that with his passion for working with the community around him and he couldn’t be more excited. Outside of his service, Brandon loves to be out and about – and when he’s inside, he’s a chef at heart.

Cecelia Hopkins, Outreach Coordinator, Community Foundation of Oceana County

Cecelia contributes to the Oceana Community Foundation and Oceana County College Access Network. She focuses on the community's need and desire to expand secondary education access. She will also focus on maintenance and improvement of the Foundation's database functions and tools and enhancement of organizational communications. While in the process of getting her Master’s Degree in Social Work, Cecelia wanted to gain a new perspective on a community she doesn’t call home so she joined on as an AmeriCorps Member to do so. Cecelia is passionate about reading – so much so that she has a Bookstagram where she shares her current reads and reviews.

Michael Howe, Affordable Housing Navigator, Neighbor by Neighbor

Michael serves low-income residents of southwest Berrien County by connecting people with assistance programs including those for rent/mortgage and utility bills, vehicle repairs, and home repairs. He is the point of contact for homeowners and is responsible for scheduling and participating in assessment visits for residents, gathering paperwork and documentation, and/or linking them to other community services. Michael joined AmeriCorps because he found retirement boring, and he wants to serve other seniors in his community. In his free time he enjoys cooking, gardening herbs and vegetables. He enjoys being outdoors in any weather.

Caprice Woods, College Success Coordinator, Detroit Regional (Detroit Promise)

Detroit Regional Chamber (Detroit Promise) is dedicated to expanding access to life changing higher education. Through her work, Caprice works to expand community outreach relevant to Detroit Promise’s scope, expands partnerships with universities, and to monitor student progress within the Detroit Promise program. Caprice felt the strong desire to hone her skills as a servant leader, which is why she felt drawn to serve as an AmeriCorps member. When she’s not thinking about that leadership, she enjoys painting and participating in nature walks.

Keith Brown, DREAM Green Program Coordinator, Dream of Detroit

As a former volunteer for Dream of Detroit, Keith is invested in the organization’s commitment to equitable housing and land development. Through his oversight of the DREAM Green Program as an AmeriCorps member, Keith ensures that residents feel engaged in the development of a community action plan to address its environmental health. After loving his time with an AmeriCorps Summer Fellowship, Keith was excited to parlay his experience into a yearlong position as an AmeriCorps member. Before serving with Dream of Detroit, Keith attended Howard University and believes his hidden talent is cooking.

Kenny Acker, Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator, Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids

Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids recognizes the criticality of affordable housing communities. Kenny’s work focuses on supporting and collaborating with the Heartside/Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Heartside Business Administration, especially their respective board members. Kenny signed on to be an AmeriCorps member because he wanted to give back to the community he calls home. He’s served with other nonprofits elsewhere, but believes the personal connection will make his work especially impactful. When he’s not engaged in service, Kenny loves to make film and play basketball.

Dorothy Rhodes, Tax Credit Coordinator, Senior Neighbors

Dorothy serves by connecting residents to free tax assistance programs and tax credit education in underserved neighborhoods to increase knowledge of local resources. She streamlines and improves current processes of connecting with resident referrals, gathers information, conducts screening questions, and schedules residents for tax credit assistance appointments. She identifies neighborhoods and agencies at which to conduct presentations on free tax assistance offerings and other resources. Dorothy joined AmeriCorps because of her love for senior citizens and her desire to be an asset to a company. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and spending time with her grandchildren.

Brandon Anderson, Special Projects Coordinator, Helping Hands of Cass County

Brandon’s work is invested in directly assisting the Cass County community. In the day to day, he works to improve healthy food distribution and access, connect low-income students with community resources, and enhance the recruitment of organizational volunteers. After graduating with his Bachelor’s Degree from Hope College, Brandon was looking for an opportunity to give back to his home community and was eager to find purpose in his professional life. That is why he is so excited to serve as an AmeriCorps member.

Lanay Gilbert-Williams, Youth Program Coordinator, Know Allegiance Nation

Lanay’s work focuses on the future. More specifically, her role prioritizes the identification of youth needs assessments for education, housing and transportation. She will work to connect those needs with the services offered by Know Allegiance Nation and other community partners. Beyond her professional life, Lanay tends to her chickens and is a proud cat lover.

Tara Aguinaga, Emergency Food Coordinator, Lighthouse

Tara serves by acting as an Emergency Food Coordinator. Her work is administrative in nature to facilitate effective food distribution, coordinating communication between clients and volunteers, and helping to compile relevant data for Lighthouse. She joined as an AmeriCorps member because she lives in, understands, and wants to give back to the community she serves. Outside of her time as an AmeriCorps member, Tara loves to paint and attend to her personal garden.

Tia Barrera, Communications & Volunteer Specialist, Old Town Commercial Association

Socioeconomic development and historic development, while critical to healthy communities, are not always the easiest to communicate to communities. Through her work as an AmeriCorps member, Tia develops accessible, engaging communications to highlight Old Town’s work and to engage volunteers in ensuring that work has the necessary human resources to thrive. Tia was excited to be an AmeriCorps member because it offered not only an opportunity for personal growth, but also the chance to meet and help others in her community. When she’s not working with Old Town, Tia enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring Lansing.

Syndallas Baughman, Service Expansion Specialist, Washtenaw Literacy

Washtenaw Literacy is the only provider of free adult literacy support in Washtenaw County. Through her AmeriCorps service, Syndallas focuses on developing and expanding the organization’s understanding of the population it serves; she does this through volunteer outreach, communications plan development, and the hosting of monthly outreach events. Syndallas was eager to work and learn with Washtenaw Literacy specifically and believed taking up an AmeriCorps position was the best way to do so. When she is not at work, you will probably find Syndallas wandering and loving the woods with her sons, friends and doggie.

Ar’reyona Welch, Housing Coordinator, Bridging Communities, Inc.

Ar’reyona’s service entails her working toward the successful execution of two home repair programs offered by Bridging Communities, Inc.: the DHIP and SEHR. These programs ultimately contribute to helping elderly communities with unmet housing needs. Ar’reyona Welch wanted to join as an AmeriCorps member because she, at her core, loves helping people and believes AmeriCorps is the perfect way to do so. Outside of her work, she collects 35mm film cameras and loves thrifting.

Micah Lee-Morris, Healthy Housing Client Support Specialist, CLEARCorps

Micah’s role as an AmeriCorps member focuses on ensuring that individuals and communities are aware of and have access to the services offered by CLEARCorps. She is the first point of contact in connecting the organization (and its mission) with the actual people in need. As a recent graduate from Michigan State University, Micah wanted to begin her professional career by making a difference in her home city of Detroit. Her specific passions for environmental and housing justice made her uniquely excited to sign on as an AmeriCorps member with CLEARCorps. Beyond her professional life, Micah considers herself lucky to celebrate her birthday on Halloween and at home lives with her German Shepard, SJ, who enjoys tearing up her belongings.

Chelsea Davis, Healthy Housing Client Support Specialist, CLEARCorps

Chelsea’s role as an AmeriCorps member focuses on ensuring that individuals and communities are aware of and have access to the services offered by CLEARCorps. She is the first point of contact in connecting the organization (and its mission) with the actual people in need. Chelsea serves at CLEARCorps Detroit as a Housing Client Support Specialist. As a Detroit native who studied Social Sciences at Aquinas College, Chelsea felt her life was at a crossroads and wanted a professional change of scenery. Chelsea chose to serve with CLEARCorps because she identifies closely with their mission. In her personal time, she loves to enjoy music, especially live concerts and shows.

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Chanavia Clayton, Homeownership Assistance Specialist, Southwest Economic Solutions

Chanavia seves as the Financial Stability Specialist of Southwest Economic Solutions. In this role, Chanavia connects Detroiters to a variety of financial stability and homeownership opportunities. A recent graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts, she decided to become an AmeriCorps Member because she saw it as an opportunity to learn, grow and help others, while also helping herself. Chanavia is a third year member who is committed to being a lifelong learner.

Leslie Pickell, Financial Literacy Specialist, Summit Financial Wellness

Leslie’s role focuses on the development and coordination of financial literacy intiatives that serve low-to-moderate income residents. She does this through leveraging volunteers, execution of special programs and events, and fostering community awareness of Summit Financial Wellness’s work through communications channels. Leslie became excited to be an AmeriCorps member because she actively wanted to serve in a capacity that aligned with both her interests and career experiences. When not donning her service cap, Leslie avidly plays euchre and feels a calling to explore new places, near and far.

Huda Yasan, Leadership Expansion Specialist, Washtenaw Literacy

Huda’s service as an AmeriCorps member focuses Washtenaw Literacy’s broader mission by partnering with adult literacy learners to improve their employability. This includes the development of marketing plans to support organizational initiatives and improve community outreach and awareness. Possessing a Master’s in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and volunteering as a tutor with Washtenaw Literacy, Huda knew that the organization was a transformative one. Her AmeriCorps position allows her explore the power literacy and language have on individuals and community. Huda enjoys arts and crafts, especially making her own puzzles.

Charles Jones, VITA Site Navigator, Wayne Metro Community Action

Charles connects neighbors to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and free tax credits. His goal is to increase participation before and after tax season. He surveys neighbors and creates informational flyers. He organizes and facilitates FAQ coffee hours and provides expertise to neighbors regarding tax returns He also identifies locations in underserved neighborhoods to conduct VITA & tax credit presentations. Charles joined AmeriCorps to help others and create positive change while gaining new skills. In his free time, he loves to study philosophy and garden.