Michigan Campus Compact grant gives EMU position to help low-income families
YPSILANTI – Helping, connecting and making a difference is Angelina Hamilton’s mission for the next year. She’s Eastern Michigan University’s first employee funded through a Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) combining national service and higher education.
For the next year, Hamilton, of Ypsilanti, will focus on getting more students involved in the community and addressing the needs of children and youth in low-income families.
She is working with student volunteers who will go out into local neighborhoods and focus on a project such as the Parkridge Community Center or Erickson Elementary School.
“I want students at Eastern to see that they are part of a bigger picture,” said Hamilton, who is the coordinator, adviser, mentor and placement specialist for EMU’s Volunteers Involved in Civic Engagement (VOICE) program,
VOICE is a living/learning community program for students interested in community service. All VOICE students live in the same residence hall, participate in monthly volunteer activities and complete 50 or more service hours per year.
“Since it’s a new program, there will be some challenges,” said Hamilton. “I anticipate some bumps in the road, but I’m getting lots of assistance from different campus groups, so I’m confident it will work out.”
One of the first projects Hamilton and her student volunteers are planning is a Harvest Festival at the Parkridge Community Center during National Make a Difference Day, Oct. 23. They are organizing a basketball tournament, arts and crafts activities, and snacks and refreshments for many of the young residents in the neighborhood.
As an EMU undergraduate, Hamilton spent countless volunteer hours coordinating community service projects and alternative spring and winter break activities. Now, thanks to a matching MCC grant, she has returned to campus as a full-time employee. Hamilton graduated April 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
“The job is a great opportunity for me to learn more about Ypsilanti and make connections between the community, faculty and staff,” said Hamilton. “I don’t know where it will lead, but I think it’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a person.”
Program partners include MCC, the Michigan office of the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). AmeriCorps VISTA is a national program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, for those 18 and older who are interested in developing lasting solutions to poverty in America.
MCC, which promotes civic activities among Michigan college students, received an AmeriCorps VISTA grant to place full-time employees at Michigan colleges and universities. The grant required a $4,500 match from the school and a demonstrated need for such a position at their institution
Peggy Harliss, EMU’s Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods (VISION) coordinator, learned of the grant and knew it would be a good fit with her program.
“The stipulation with this grant is that the AmeriCorps VISTA member focus on children in poverty. We have a lot of children living in poverty in the surrounding community,” said Harliss.
Hamilton also helps with EMU’s America Reads program, which works to increase literacy skills in at-risk children. EMU students sign up to tutor third, fourth and fifth graders at Erickson Elementary School in math and reading. They work with teachers who have identified pupils in need of extra help.
In addition, she is responsible for keeping EMU compliant with the VISTA grant requirements. She makes weekly site visits, explores other partnership opportunities and assesses future community sites for the program.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.