Guest Posting by: MCSC AmeriCorps*VISTAs Shana Holet and Matt Reaume
This week was a week of celebration between the 4th Annual Michigan’s Premier Mentoring Conference and the 2009 Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member Celebration. Our two new AmeriCorps*VISTAs reflect on their experience and how it relates to what they are doing at the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC).
At the Mentor Michigan conference I was part of a standing ovation given to a young teenage boy who, with great passion and heart, spoke to the audience about his experience with First Gentlemen Daniel G. Mulhern as his mentor. Having never spoken into a microphone before; this teenager spoke to more than 250 individuals demonstrating the power of mentoring. Every young person needs a mentor whether it is a formal mentor or mentee relationship or someone a young person can consistently rely on. Seeing so many individuals who are dedicated to mentoring is powerful. Yet the most powerful part of this conference was seeing a young teenager, who may have had obstacles but overcame them, demonstrate the strength of the human spirit and show us that everyone has a voice.
Inclusion is letting a person speak for themselves. It would have been simple for someone to read the mentee’s speech for him, viewing him as inexperienced. This did not happen; the mentee was included. He spoke and read with support that made it possible for all to hear his voice. Being the Inclusion VISTA, I become very excited when I view inclusion and fired up to correct exclusion.
The next day it was off to Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center for the 2009 Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member Celebration. Member Celebration included more than 500 people who are giving a year to service. As a VISTA serving at the MCSC, I had the opportunity to direct people into registration. I was able to visually see service members as they came through the door. I was delighted to see mass diversity among the members. Many people who came through the door were of different nationalities and cultures, men, women, young, old, disabled, and non-disabled. The entire day was filled with a community of service members united to make a difference in Michigan. The physical space was more comfortably laid out and inclusion was apparent. I was very proud to be apart of the celebration.
Matt Reaume: The week of November 15, 2009 was a whirlwind of activity with both the 4th Annual Michigan’s Premier Mentoring Conference and the Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member Celebration taking place one right after the other. It was a unique opportunity to be surrounded by passionate individuals committed to improving the lives of Michigan citizens through their selfless service and hard work.
It is rather difficult to choose one single event as being the highlight of the week. Amazing keynote speakers, touching personal stories, and an exciting atmosphere of energy and idealism provided the backdrop to an intense three days of personal and professional development.
It is without a doubt though; the most enjoyable aspect of the entire week for me personally was participating in the first meeting of the 2009-2010 Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member Council. Having served as a member of the Council last year, I was looking forward to meeting all the new representatives and even more excited to continue the work from last year.
All the representatives contribute a wealth of diverse skills and knowledge that will undoubtedly add immense value to the Council’s mission. I look forward to working with these dedicated members throughout our year of service together and feel blessed for the opportunity to do so!