Michigan's AmeriCorps Member of the Month
Claira Freeman has served as a full-time AmeriCorps member with the Family Literacy Program since August 2015 as the AmeriCorps Volunteer Recruiter. The Family Literacy Program is administered by the Literacy Center of West Michigan and partners with Head Start for Kent County, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Godwin Heights Public Schools. The goal of the program is to break the generational cycle of low literacy by educating parents of children, helping them to become their child’s first and best teacher. The program model helps ensure parents are improving their own literacy skills, engaging with their children’s education, and participating in literacy-related activities at home.
As the Volunteer Recruiter, Claira is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the Family Literacy Program volunteers. She is passionate about identifying and recruiting groups of people who are unaware of this volunteer opportunity or who may not see how service relates to their career goals. Claira has established relationships with Grand Valley State University student organizations and local high school organizations like, TRiO Upward Bound. Often, these volunteers return month after month because they have enjoyed the experience so much. This is a direct result of how Claira plans and runs the program’s Family Activity Nights.
In addition to her role as Volunteer Recruiter, Claira serves on the Michigan’s AmeriCorps LeaderCorps. LeaderCorps provides an opportunity for one AmeriCorps member from each program to serve in a leadership role as a liaison between their team and the Michigan Community Service Commission. LeaderCorps members also play an integral role in the planning and coordination of AmeriCorps Week and the annual Regional Russ Mawby Signature Service Projects.
Claira has also taken the initiative to help spread the word about AmeriCorps across West Michigan through various outreach events and activities. She has made it a point to develop relationships with local universities’ career centers and professors, and plans tabling and classroom speaking events each semester. Claira is also involved with the West Michigan AmeriCorps Collaborative.
“Claira is very often behind the scenes, but the contribution that she makes to our team on a daily basis is significant,” stated AmeriCorps program director Ariel DuVal. “She exhibits a servant-leader attitude and offers support to her fellow AmeriCorps members whenever she finds the opportunity. We are all so grateful to have Claira serve at the Literacy Center of West Michigan and are very excited to find out where her service takes her in the future!”