July 6, 2001

Contact: Kelly McSween

(cell phone)850.264.1101






DETROIT - Break Away, a national non-profit organization, is partnering with Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan and Detroit's Motor City Blight Busters in bringing student leaders from around the country to volunteer in Detroit July 8-13.

Students from 22 different colleges nationwide will put in more than 300 hours, learning how to increase active citizenship on their campuses, said EMU's coordinator, Kelly McSween, of Redford.

A speaker panel kicks off the week's events Sunday, July 8, 7 p.m., at Eastern Michigan's Alumni Room at McKenny Union. The panel will include veteran Detroit City Council member Maryanne Mahaffey; Nancy Sizer from the Southwest Detroit Business Association; and Matthew Weber, a University of Michigan law professor.

Participants will learn about urban renewal issues while volunteering with the Motor City Blight Busters, July 9-13, 9 a.m. - noon, helping to demolish abandoned houses and renovating homes on Detroit's west side.

The Motor City Blight Busters also will host a community dinner for the students, July 9, at 5:30 p.m., 17450 Lahser, Detroit. John George, founder of Blight Busters; Rebecca Salemin Witt, executive director of the Greening of Detroit; and State Senator Alma Wheeler-Smith (D-District 18) will be among area leaders who will share their community involvement experiences with the students.

The community involvement activities are woven into a rigorous training structure, teaching the students how to replicate the Break Away program on their campuses.

Quality Break Away programs send teams of students to learn about social issues, during school breaks, by volunteering alongside members of communities worldwide. Eastern Michigan University has a nationally-known volunteer program, called Alternative Spring Break, which is organized through Break Away and sponsored by VISION (Volunteers Incorporating Service into Our Neighborhoods). VISION is an EMU Campus Life program that promotes student community service.

During the 2001 spring break, more than 70 EMU students spent their week-long break volunteering at ten different sites around the country.

For more on the program, contact Kelly McSween, EMU's program coordinator, at 850.264.1101.