Monday, January 21st, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national day of service. As a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member, this was a great opportunity for me to serve our community. The Allen Neighborhood Center, located in Lansing, invited volunteers to come out and serve for the afternoon. The Allen Neighborhood Center is a “Place-based organization that serves as a hub for neighborhood revitalization and for activities that promote the health and well-being of Lansing Eastside community and other stakeholders” (allenneighborhoodcenter.org).
The volunteer event started off with introductions, coffee, bagels, and to my surprise, our governor and her staff made an appearance. I then took the time and looked around the room; to my right was a girl who was studying to be a vet at MSU, to my left were a group of kids, our governor and her staff, and spread out around the room on several shirts was the “A” emblem that stands for AmeriCorps.
I was reflecting on the diversity of the volunteers, people came from all over, some not even part of an organization but simply wanted to give to their community. As cheesy as this may sound, it warmed my heart. The ability of people with different backgrounds to come together with complete strangers and unite under a similar goal or passion is so very unique and special. I do believe that’s one of the reasons that binds Huron Pines AmeriCorps with MUCC, because in conservation we promote unity, even with different backgrounds.
My service task with the Allen Neighborhood Center took place in their Hunter Park Garden House. The Garden House is a hub for year-round farm and garden education, where neighbors volunteer to grow food and flowers for the community. Myself, along with 15-20 other volunteers, were tasked with promoting food access and youth empowerment for the Garden-In-A-Box Program within the Garden House. While I and a few other people were playing in the dirt and planting onion seeds, others were building ten 2×2 wooden garden beds. These onions and wooden garden boxes will provide for self-identified food insecure residents’ on the eastside of Lansing.
The Allen Neighborhood Center is a fantastic organization that brings out the best in the eastside community of Lansing and I look forward to volunteering for them again. I already know I want to go full-circle and be a part of giving out the mature onions I planted, for the community, come this spring/summer. A special thank you to Martin Luther King Jr. for all that you did for this nation, it was an honor to serve on your day.