AmeriCorps member helps homeless students with senior pictures
As the school year comes to a close, graduating seniors across the state are celebrating their successes and planning their futures. For many students, though, graduation isn’t all pomp and circumstance. For teens experiencing homelessness, senior year doesn’t look quite the same. Senior pictures and graduation parties can be a struggle, but fortunately, there are many people who want to help.
Melissa Dunson, an AmeriCorps member with Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness (CTEH), saw the problem and decided to make a change. Recently, Dunson hosted the first annual photo shoot for high school seniors experiencing homelessness. Nine Wayne area seniors, five photographers and two Mary Kay makeup artists came together for the photo shoot.
“This project really stood out. Melissa was able to see a part of life that teens and families miss out on that often goes overlooked,” said Kelli Beavers, program director for CTEH.
CTEH is a statewide national service program that utilizes AmeriCorps members to provide direct, targeted services to individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. AmeriCorps members like Melissa provide a wide array of services, including conducting housing searches, providing resource connections, conducting outreach services and assisting with job preparation. With CTEH AmeriCorps members, host sites like Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency are able to provide more in-depth services to a greater number of those in need.
“The most touching thing I heard was from one senior whose family recently lost most of their belongings, personal photos included,” said Dunson. “So these senior photos will be the only photos her mother has of her. That made this so worth it.”
Dunson will partner with Wayne Metro’s Youth Expo to organize another photo shoot soon. Interested parties can e-mail Melissa Dunson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 313-463-7011.