[Adapted from an article by Holly Roney for Hillsdale.net.]
Laurie Helsel said she felt like she was on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when she saw a transformed Opportunity House on Friday. The Community Action Agency, CAA, and the First Presbyterian Church of Hillsdale came together in late August to make Hillsdale a little nicer for families in need. The groups performed an “extreme makeover” on the Opportunity House, a temporary shelter run by CAA on Griswold Street. The shelter has the potential to house up to four families who have no other place to stay, with sometimes an entire family staying in one bedroom. Downstairs, three families share a living room, bathroom and kitchen. Upstairs is a small apartment for a single family.
About 25 volunteers put in close to 1,000 hours Monday through Friday to get the house ready for families to return. They repainted, put in new carpet, re-roofed the front porch and garage, weeded and cleaned up outside and replaced or fixed windows and doors.
Among the volunteers were Senator Bruce Caswell (16-Hillsdale) and Representative Kenneth Kurtz (58-Coldwater). Sen. Caswell came out on Monday, August 22 and “worked his heart out,” staying for most of the day, says Maxine Vanlerberg, Hillsdale County Director for CAA. Rep. Kurtz came on Friday to help with the finishing touches. Both legislators were happily surprised to learn that Opportunity House existed to serve area families, and Rep. Kurtz has expressed interest in working more with the shelter in the future.
[Thanks to Roy Jones and Joshua Elling for the information!]
Representative Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (3-Detroit) joined the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA) for their Annual Spring Clean on June 4, 2011. The representative and her executive assistant, Roy Jones (who also volunteered with Detroit Habitat this summer), helped the JEBA staff and community volunteers clear four major area dump sites, collect trash, dispose of over 700 used tires, and conduct maintenance of the neighborhood Community Art Lot.
In addition to working at the cleanup, Rep. Talabi also returned a month later on July 2, 2011 for the 8th Annual Jazzin’ on Jefferson street festival. She graced the stage to speak encouraging words about Detroit’s future, then introduced one of the jazz acts. Says JEBA Executive Director Joshua R. Elling, “It was an honor and a privilege to work with the Honorable Alberta Tinsley-Talabi this past summer and JEBA looks forward to continuing that relationship.”
On Thursday, September 15, Representative Mike Callton (87-Nashville) joined with hundreds of volunteers at Barry County United Way’s annual Day of Caring.
Working at Thornapple Manor, a senior housing facility in Hastings, Rep. Callton planted flowers, raked leaves and did other yardwork to spruce up the grounds for the senior residents. He also helped out by serving ice cream to his fellow volunteers.
This year’s Day of Caring was the largest yet, according to Barry County United Way’s website. Over 475 volunteers came out, including many local officials and Representative Callton, serving a total of almost 2,000 hours over two days.
LBC legislative advisor Representative Wayne Schmidt (104-Traverse City) spent time volunteering in his district on September 9. He was helping Foundation for Mental Health, a local nonprofit that provides affordable housing and voluntary support services for individuals with mental illness who are homeless.
Representative Schmidt worked alongside all four residents of the home he visited, who are middle-aged, formerly homeless men. The men are thriving in their new environment, says FMH executive director Emilee Syrewicze, and they greatly enjoyed spending time with the representative. Together the group worked in the house’s vegetable and flower garden and completed an outdoor fireplace (pictured left).
Talking with the residents over coffee and donuts, Rep. Schmidt learned a lot about Foundation for Mental Health and the benefits it provides for its clients. “Legislators Building Communities provided an opportunity for Foundation for Mental Health to get knowledge about our organization to someone who might be able to help,” says Syrewicze. “And we laughed a lot!”
[Adapted from an article by Debra Lashbrook.]
Habitat for Humanity Lansing hosted Rep. Barb Byrum (67-Onondaga) and Rep. Joan Bauer (68-Lansing) on Sept. 9, where the lawmakers helped nail siding and build a home at 3301 Danbury Crossroad, Lansing.
Reps. Bauer and Byrum volunteered alongside members of the homeowner family, the construction crew and community volunteers, which included employees of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Greater Ingham County Habitat. The Lansing property is a six-bedroom, two-story home being constructed for, and in partnership with, a family of twelve.
“It truly is an honor to be able to volunteer alongside residents from the community and raise awareness for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization projects across our state. I specifically would like to thank Habitat for Humanity for making this possible and assure them that what I have experienced today will be reflected in my work in Lansing,” says Rep. Byrum.
This year, State Representative Lesia Liss (28-Warren) volunteered her time at Warren Summerfest, a one-day event in the city of Warren that gives back to underprivileged families and children. At the event they are able to get one of the 1,000 book bags full of school supplies given away each year, haircuts, groceries, and much more.
According to the Summerfest website:
Summerfest began in 2004 with a group of people desiring to touch their city. It has grown to dozens of businesses, churches, schools and government officials working together to touch the needs of families in the city of Warren and Southeast Michigan. Since its inception the crime rate in our city has plummeted. The number of people attending has increased dramatically each year, and the stories of lives touched by this outpouring of love abound.
As needs and demands for help grow each year, we are continually looking for sponsors and volunteers to partner with us. Together, we believe we can bring hope to the hopeless, healing to the hurting, and freedom to those overwhelmed by the stress of life. With your help, we believe we can make a positive impact in our world.
[This article is from the Summer 2011 newsletter of Wexford Habitat for Humanity - read it here.]
On July 8, there were some familiar faces on the Wexford Habitat work site on Chestnut Street. Homeowner April Boersma was there with Executive Director Deb Maxey, several volunteers and board members, but also present were some well-known local and state officials. They were all participating in the Legislators Building Communities (LBC) initiative.
The LBC initiative was launched by the Living in Michigan Coalition which is a broad-based group of more than 20 statewide housing and community development organizations. The goal of the initiative is to involve legislators, state officials and volunteers in projects all over Michigan. On this day, State Representative Phil Potvin (102-Cadillac) joined Senator Darwin Booher (35-Evart) and Cadillac City Manager Marcus Preccia to help build the porch onto the Boersma home. It was a hot day for building, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. Senator Booher has participated in Legislator Builds before, but last time he brought home a sore thumb as a souvenir. He was hoping to avoid any additional souvenirs. Although this was Potvin’s first year to participate as a legislator, he is no stranger to Wexford Habitat. His former company, Western Concrete, was a frequent Habitat contributor.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is to educate the general public on the need for affordable housing and community improvement. We are confident that our legislators will carry that message with them wherever they go.
Representative Bradford Jacobsen (46-Oxford) is a longtime supporter of his hometown’s downtown development association, the Oxford DDA. According to DDA director Madonna Van Fossen, Rep. Jacobsen has helped throughout this summer with planning and problem-solving for the organization’s many public events, such as Concerts in the Park and Celebrate Oxford.
“He’s there for us whenever we need him,” says Van Fossen, noting that he makes a point to stop by the office to check in and offer assistance whenever he is in their building. “He and Senator Marleau are great supporters.”
[Adapted from a press release by Rich Adams.]
The 17th annual Western Wayne County Senior Celebration Day will take place Friday, Oct. 14. The event is organized by Representative John Walsh (19-Livonia) and Senior Citizen Achievement Needs, a local nonprofit organization for seniors.
“I am honored to have a hand in organizing this thank-you for seniors who have had such an impact on this community,” Walsh said. “This is not only a fun-filled celebration, but it is also very informative. Seniors can learn about nonprofit groups, businesses, health care organizations and more. I truly appreciate all the sponsors that make this important event possible.”
Tickets are now on sale for the event, which will take place at Laurel Manor Banquet & Conference Center, located on Schoolcraft Road west of Newburgh, in Livonia. The celebration runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the Livonia Senior Center. Ticket price includes a hot meal, bingo, music by Mike Wolverton, exhibitor booths featuring novelties, influenza shots, a raffle, games and prizes, and a free cloth bag in which to carry the items.
On July 16th, Representative Nancy Jenkins (57-Clayton) participated in the 3rd Lowe’s Women Build Clinic with Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County. This was an opportunity for women to learn the skills involved in applying vinyl siding. The women at the clinic learned carpentry skills and built a potting shed from the ground up.
Executive Director Bob Dister says, “We eagerly anticipate a future Women Build project and will include Nancy in all that we do.”