Young volunteers spruce up SOS headquarters during Global Youth Service Day
The South Oakland Shelter’s Lathrup Village office got a springtime makeover Saturday – thanks to a small but mighty group of young metro Detroiters.
About a half dozen teens and young adults turned out for the AmeriCorps Global Youth Service Day cleanup effort — eager to get to work and determined to make a difference.
“I’m excited,” said Donoven Lipa, 12, of Hazel Park. “The more people who are helping, the more that will get done.
“I think people will see that and want to make a difference.”
And what a difference they made.
They cleared the SOS lot of old wood, leaves and other debris and readied the agency’s community garden for planting. Inside, they scraped stickers off the walls in preparation for the fresh paint set to come.
And they showed our community that a few helping hands can sow a world of change.
“It looks so much better,” said 21-year-old Asia Nelson of Pontiac. “You can really see the work we’ve done and that’s pretty rewarding.”
Center Line siblings Meta Fleischhut, 18, and her brother, Erich, 13, put the day’s mission into perspective perfectly.
“You get to help out the community, and you know you’re helping other people in the process,” Erich said.
“I think it’s important to give back,” Meta added. “It’s a great way to show everyone respect and love.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Global Youth Service Day, an annual celebration of — and a call to action for — the millions of young people around the world who contribute every day to the betterment of their communities.
“Our deepest appreciation goes out to the kids and their parents who came to our Global Youth Service Day event,” said Leila Vallarino, head of SOS’s community engagement. “Activities like cleaning up the garden and picking up trash can seem small, but beautification projects like these give our clients dignity and make SOS a more welcoming place for both our shelter clients and the greater community.”
For Saturday’s Global Youth Service Day volunteers, the event was both a labor of love – and of learning.
After the cleanup was complete, the young people assembled hygiene kits for SOS clients and participated in a computer-simulated poverty exercise led by SOS AmeriCorps members.
The simulation challenged the group to make spending decisions with only a small amount of money, mirroring the heart-wrenching decisions people living in poverty are forced to make every day.
“The poverty simulation was meant to broaden people’s horizons and connect the work we did today to the people we serve,” said Denise Vernon, 23, an AmeriCorps Housing Search and Information specialist and the event chair.
That message certainly wasn’t lost on these young volunteers.
“Volunteering is important because there is always someone less fortunate who needs something,” Asia said. “Volunteering allows you to be the light for that person. … I would tell other kids and teens to volunteer because money can’t buy the connections you make or the sense of fulfillment you get from helping others.”
Want to make a difference? SOS is looking for volunteers ages 12-18 to paint our bike shed on Saturday, May 12. It’s the perfect opportunity to have some fun while helping others. To sign up, please click here.