Service Events

MLK day of service


Martin Luther King Jr. Day has traditionally been a day that people band together to make their immediate or neighboring communities a better place. Most schools get a day off to celebrate the birthday of this civic hero, but City Year calls it a “day on.”  City Year makes it a point to volunteer within the communities they serve on MLK day. This year the team serving at the Cody Complex partnered with the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Project at Wayne State to clean-up houses around the school.


The Urban Safety Project’s goal for MLK weekend was to make routes to school safer for students. Many abandoned houses with thick plant growth and open entry points can make the trip to school very dangerous. The AmeriCorps group recognized the fact that houses that fit this description provide places for dangerous people to hide and promotes dangerous illegal dumping sites that the community’s children pass nearly every day and took action to alleviate some of those dangers.

Volunteers boarded-up and cleaned-up 20 vacant and open structures in 3 different neighborhoods across the City of Detroit over the three day weekend. Each day the project worked in a different community and on the third day the project came to the Cody neighborhood.  Being in the Cody area, the corps members who work here felt it was their duty to volunteer for the project for the entire day, forgoing a City Year rally most other teams were present for.

Over the weekend City Year members cleared entire yards and boarded- up houses. At the end, we felt that the weekend was well spent making the trip to school safer for students and the community a more welcoming place.

-Jennifer Choate, Communications Coordinator

Focus: HOPE

Filling food boxes

Filling food boxes

Here at City Year the corps members are dedicated to serving causes greater than themselves. When January shut down the schools there were many days off in which City Year could have stayed home and bundled up. But corps members wear the red jacket because serving the community is what we do and serving the community is hard to do at home. So, City Year Team Leaders arranged for corps members to get out and volunteer at Focus: HOPE.

For those of you who don’t know Focus: HOPE does many things to fight for equality in the areas they serve. They also provide support for families who are struggling to meet basic needs. One of the basic needs they focus on is the need for food. City Year was proud to volunteer to aid them in their endeavors to meet this need.

On one of our many snow days, three City Year school teams met up at the Focus: HOPE Central Food Warehouse to pack pre-prepared food boxes for homebound senior citizens. Focus: HOPE employees informed City Year that they rely on the help of volunteers to prepare the food boxes and with the inclement weather of January they had not had the help they needed to ensure they could provide food for those who need it. They felt it was a relief that we came in during an otherwise very slow volunteer season.

The corps spent the day doing heavy lifting (food boxes weigh quite a lot), packing boxes, and even building the boxes with a delightful box taping machine. The day was a success. Before it was over the corps had packed so many boxes we had run out things to pack. The three City Year teams went home sore, but with a feeling of accomplishment.

-Jennifer Choate, Communications Coordinator

Impromptu Service at the Parade Company

In front of the DPS float

In front of the DPS float

#MakingBetterHappen is hard enough to do on any given day in the school, but it becomes much harder when a district-wide power outage closes the building for two days in a row. Thankfully, City Year’s many partnerships make it easy to still get out and serve our community. Hardworking Team Leader Sarah Emeritz has been called upon many times this semester with all of the bad weather and building problems to organize last-minute service projects for our team. Today, Team Cody returned the Detroit Parade Company to assist in cleaning up their studio for upcoming tours. While this impromptu opportunity only required a few hours of our work, they were quite grateful to have us around. The Parade Company is an amazing place, for those who haven’t seen it, and their flexibility and willingness to host us says a lot about the character of the organization. We look forward to continuing this great partnership, justfloating it out there!

At the time of this post, our team is back at the office preparing for the upcoming days (assuming the power comes back on!) Many of us are working on projects for our respective coordinator roles, as is the case with this blog. As the team’s literacy coordinator, I have also been reading up on possible events to promote reading and writing in the school. Spoiler alert: I am increasingly leaning towards a poetry slam, so stay tuned for a future post about that. Some of my team members are preparing material for their meetings with students for when we resume school. It has been very hard to find time to have productive meetings with such inconsistencies in our schedule. Unfortunately, these aren’t going away anytime soon considering the mid-winter break next week, but we certainly have had time to prepare recently! We will be doing our best whenever we do get back to keep our students on track with their work. In the meantime, we will #makebetterhappen however we can.

-Jimmy Johnson, Literacy Coordinator


One thought on “Service Events

  1. Pingback: School Team Pages | City Year Detroit Blog

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