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Labor and Economic Opportunity

MCSC Supports Youth Engagement as part of MLK Day   

Youth Volunteer

The Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) helped organizations across the state find ways to engage youth volunteers to help Michiganders for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

MCSC supported 56 MLK day volunteer projects across Michigan. As part of the initiative, there were over 1,500 youth who were involved with serving and were part of a larger group of 3,000 volunteers who provided over 10,000 hours of service MCSC awarded more than $20,000 in grants to organizations ranging from $100 to $1,000 to help communities recover from the impact of COVID-19. Funding was provided by partners AmeriCorps the Agency and Youth Service America through the Allstate Foundation.  

These projects included creating child-size masks, thanking healthcare workers in creative ways, addressing COVID-19 related needs like food distribution, education, and tools to prevent the spread, and addressing the needs of mental health and the homeless.  Volunteers created nearly 6,000 masks and thanked nearly 2,000 healthcare workers with special gifts. 

“We are inspired by the ways Michiganders lifted each other up in service,” said Michigan Community Service Commission Executive Director Ginna Holmes. “Despite the pandemic challenges, it was one of our largest MLK efforts and we are proud of the impact that youth volunteers made. We also appreciate the Governor and Lt. Governor joining us in serving on MLK day."

Governor Gretchen Whitmer assisted The Heart of West Michigan United Way virtual service session to make blankets to support those who are homeless.  Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist volunteered with Meals on Wheels in Detroit. 

The Boys and Girls Club of Alpena engaged 35 youth volunteers to bake cookies, write thank you cards, and create art pieces for healthcare workers at five local sites. “We want to recognize the people in our community that risk their health for the health of our community,” Catherine Knoch, Youth Volunteer Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena, said. “The youth also want to boost their morale and let healthcare workers know that even the youth can see the hard work that each person is doing within our community.” 

 As part of the MI Masks+ Project, Benton Harbor Community Water Council and Black Autonomy Network Community Organization engaged 10 youth to sew and distribute masks throughout the community and continued their work to prevent lead poisoning by providing water filters to area residents.

In Flint, 125 youth were engaged by the Communities First Housing Organization to submit artwork, poems and music, in person or electronically, to create a mural at a Flint housing property that will exist virtually. 

   Some of the youth highlights of the MCSC MLK Day 2021 Projects:  

  • 2,841 hours were volunteered by youth  
  • Five projects supported youth services for children living in homeless shelters, and emotional and mental health in response to the pandemic  
  • Food banks were able to partner with smaller nonprofits to increase food distribution 
  • Nearly 6,000 masks were sewn by youth handmade   remove
  • The Ford Motor Company donated nearly 7,000 masks and they were distributed in Benton Harbor along with water filters.
  • Nine projects recognized nearly 2,000 healthcare workers 
  • Volunteers made art and baked goods, delivered meals, and other items to support those on the front lines