Labor and Economic Opportunity
Melissa Cummings truly embodies the mission of Peckham, Inc., a nonprofit vocational rehabilitation organization that provides job training opportunities for persons with significant disabilities and other barriers to employment. She has multiple roles at their Charlotte site including Vocational Services Assistant Manager, Administrator for the House of Ruth, a residential group home for men with developmental disabilities, and the Employment Specialist for Charlotte's I-EARN program which serves to employ people facing homelessness.
To successfully juggle her many responsibilities, Melissa relies on a partnership with the AmeriCorps members that she supervises to add an additional layer of support for the clients that they both serve. Through the Economic Opportunity Coaching Corps at Peckham, Inc., AmeriCorps members coach people with disabilities, refugees, and low-income individuals in financial literacy, adult education, and employability skill development to help clients achieve and maintain economic stability.
One characteristic that makes Melissa stand out as an excellent supervisor is her ability to see opportunities when others might only see challenges. An example of this was how she responded when apparel and automotive parts manufacturing at the Charlotte facility slowed during the pandemic. Instead of layoffs, Melissa saw an opportunity to expand the time Peckham crew members spent doing professional development training with AmeriCorps members. She empowered the Charlotte AmeriCorps member to create new training calendars, communicate with production staff, and even coordinate with Peckham's Linden team in Flint to virtually join the Charlotte crew for weekly professional development training sessions.
Melissa has found a balance between encouraging her AmeriCorps members to take charge of their own projects and being available for support. She has expressed the importance of providing her AmeriCorps members with an enriching, meaningful experience, and serving as a mentor and resource along the way. Melissa demonstrates her dedication to the mission of AmeriCorps through her drive to create an environment where her members can grow and succeed. Together they help support their clients as they gain confidence and independence to reach their full potential.
Learn more about the Economic Opportunity Coaching Corps program and other Michigan's AmeriCorps programs making a positive impact in communities across Michigan. For more information about AmeriCorps, visit www.americorps.gov.