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Volunteerism Features

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Educating parents gives children their best shot

The Great Start Plus program is designed to help Kalamazoo County families whose life situations put their preschool children at high risk of school failure. Margaret DeRitter talks to parents who are learning they can be their child's best teacher.

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Saginaw youth a FORCE for positive change

A young people's advisory board, part of the Saginaw Community Foundation, is making a difference. That's thanks in large part to a Kellogg grant which challenges the youth in the community to develop their own programs.


Leaning into Change: Carlo Sweeney, Downtown Youth Boxing Gym

When he founded the boxing gym in 2005, Carlo Sweeney wanted to better engage Detroit youth. Mission being accomplished, reports Tunde Wey.


Encouraged to Think, Create, Write

826michigan is well known for its Robot Repair Store and writing center in downtown Ann Arbor (not to mention its fun, offbeat events). But did you also know they tutor and host workshops in Ypsilanti? From fiction to stage plays to poetry, volunteers at their Drop-In Teen Writing Workshop inspire kids to find expression through words.
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Felicia Andrews

Transforming Neighborhoods and Attitudes

Block By Block, a program of Team 313 youth development organization, is clearing trash-strewn lots and changing people’s minds about littering. However, its biggest success may be the values youth learn while keeping their neighborhoods clean.

Bridget Clark Whitney

Since childhood, Bridget Clark Whitney, executive director of Kids’ Food Basket in Grand Rapids, has known that serving underprivileged people was her calling. She has devoted her entire career to ending childhood hunger, helping to make sure that thousands of children in greater Grand Rapids and Muskegon do not go to bed hungry.

Kristin Martinez

Kristin Martinez, environmental education manager for The Greening of Detroit, experiences a sense of awe when the environmental concepts she teaches in school classrooms click with students when they see them outdoors. She leads groups of urban kids into the wilds of Detroit’s largest city park through the Our LAND program, empowering them to be good stewards of their own neighborhoods and surroundings.  

Penny Bailer

City Year Detroit’s Executive Director, Penny Bailer, is a 37-year resident of Detroit with a firm grasp on the vital need for education improvement in Detroit. With a zest that is rare and unmistakable, Bailer oversees the many mentoring, educational, and enrichment programs that City Year offers to the city’s underserved youth.

Bob Randels

Over three decades, Bob Randels has watched food banking in Michigan grow from a grass-roots initiative to a cross-state system of well-run, food distribution hubs. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan’s executive director derives satisfaction from his work and continues to develop new ways to supply nutrition to the hungry.     
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