Saturday 09/24/2016 – wake up call: 5:55 AM.
My companions and I arrived earlier than the masses, as we were helping lead the volunteer trip. We met up with our co-lead, staked out a meeting area for our group.
142 students from Central Michigan University loaded up onto busses to make the haul from Mount Pleasant, MI over to Flint, MI.
The bus ride there was lively! My group members sat near each other, asking and answering questions, playing games, and starting to get to know one another – building a strong foundation for a team.
SERVICE – PART 1:
Parks and Recreation is something that is quickly neglected within the city of Flint. Since there is no direct funding for them, there is an organization that works towards maintaining and updating the local parks. A member of the community who lives across the street picks up trash and maintains Fleming Park. That’s where we headed first. We repainted the play structures. They were to be getting new swings in the next two weeks.
SERVICE – PART 2:
The 5th Annual Touch-A-Truck event was hip, hop, and happening. My friend and I noticed there was a DJ, dance area, and kids – so we joined without hesitation. We accidentally kind of skipped our hot dog lunch (possibly for the better). There were volunteers dancing, kids dancing, adults and parents dancing, police officers dancing. It was a community gathering. Dance brought us together and enabled us to have more intentional conversations with the kids too.
SERVICE – PART 3:
Blight Elimination. Location – abandoned apartments. There was so much rubbish. Each and every piece we placed into the dumpster was helping clean the area. It may have seemed tedious, or maybe even useless, but without us there – there is no way of knowing how much longer those things would have gone untouched, unmoved, unthought of. Each piece contained a story. Of what I will never know. I picked up a single key and tucked it in my pocket.
The local Methodist Church hosting all us students for a complimentary spaghetti dinner. Replenishing our hard working bodies with important nutrients was key to a successful remainder of the evening. At the dinner we also had guest speakers come and talk about how meaningful the work we were doing was to them.
Bus rides back are always great because mostly everyone lays their head to rest. I take it as a time to reflect. Why did I just spend my time doing that? To help others, yes. But also so I could learn. Learn in my leading, in seeing first hand the effects simply living in Flint has on human lives. Learned the stories of the kids, what they’re going through. How big their hearts are and how much they love to dance and laugh and smile and love.
I am going to continue to shine a light on and in an area that is portrayed in such darkness – Flint. A mere 20 minutes from what I call home.
As people who are not only blessed, but privileged, we should be using what we have to advocate and stand alongside those in other areas.