Michigan's AmeriCorps Member of the Month
There are few AmeriCorps members who have demonstrated the level of dedication and commitment that Jennifer (Jen) Tompkins has shown. Jen is serving her third full-time term with the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps program.
The Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps (MFOC) program, administered by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), seeks to improve financial stability for Michigan residents. The program places 33 AmeriCorps members throughout the state to facilitate financial education classes, host community resource fairs, build capacity around VITA Free Tax Assistance programs, and help individuals avoid foreclosure. In addition, the AmeriCorps members help recruit volunteers to provide free income tax services, pro-bono expert services, and assist with financial literacy classes.
Jen serves as the Community Resource Specialist with the Asset Independence Coalition (AIC) in Lansing. In this role, she wears many hats and has been able to make a tremendous impact. Despite being a small organization with few staff, AIC provides all of Lansing and the surrounding areas with free tax assistance and financial education services.
“Each day, despite the ups and downs of normal life, Jen comes into our office with a ‘can do’ attitude that all of us, including volunteers, appreciate,” stated her supervisor at AIC. “I am incredibly blessed to be able to serve my community alongside Jen and grateful that she chose to join AmeriCorps."
Jen has been tasked with leading the volunteer recruitment and training efforts for the organization. This is no easy task, as the main volunteer need at AIC is for volunteer tax preparers. Serving in that capacity can be very intimidating and it takes someone who is knowledgeable about the process and easy to talk to in order to recruit the right people. In addition, Jen is responsible for leading the planning committee for Lansing’s annual Show Me the Money Day. This community resource fair serves upward of 250 Lansing residents. Under Jen’s guidance, the event has increased the number of nonprofit service provider attendees by 15%.
Jen also hosts financial education classes. One of the ways she has effectively utilized her service connections is by facilitating classes for AmeriCorps members from other programs. Jen has facilitated classes, including Living on an AmeriCorps Budget, for multiple AmeriCorps programs and members. She is able to use her own personal experience to cover topics and resources that are of the highest interest to members.
“Outside of the service she provides, Jen is a pleasure to know,” stated Rachel Diskin, CEDAM’s director of National Service Programs. “She is the type of person to always go above and beyond. She serves in AmeriCorps because she truly cares about her community and wants to give back.”