Detroit is one of ten Cities of Service launching citywide "high impact service plans" geared toward encouraging volunteerism and community service, this month. Cities of Service is a coalition of over 100 U.S. mayors, which was launched by 17 original founding mayors, in 2009 - it has grown quickly. A number of Michigan cities participate, including Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and Detroit. Detroit, along with nine other cities, received a cut of the first round of “Cities of Service Leadership Grant” funding, awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation, this January.
The grant is supporting Detroit Service, Mayor Bing’s initiative to address some of Detroit’s most pressing community service needs. Chief Service Officer Barbara Jean Patton will oversee the implementation of a number of goals outlined in their "Action Plan." Detroit Service is focusing on increasing public safety, encouraging urban gardening projects aimed at “blight elimination” and “beautification” of Detroit neighborhoods, increasing literacy among both grade schoolers and adults, promoting youth involvement in volunteering and community service opportunities, and building capacity for existing organizations. They will work with a hearty list of external partnering organizations and internal partners within the City of Detroit to coordinate volunteers and promote community engagement in these areas of service.
For example, a volunteer "Citizen’s Radio Patrol" (CB radio patrol) will inform the Detroit Police Department of potential criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Partners on the project include the police department along with two AmeriCorps VISTA members. Wayne State University will measure the community-based patrol's impact on public safety. In addition, the resurrection of an "Eyes and Ears" program in Detroit will coordinate and train city service workers and other people who work in neighborhoods on a daily basis to keep an eye out for crime.
Over time, Detroit Service will develop their new website, www.volunteer.detroitmi.gov into a centralized resource of information on volunteering and community service in Detroit. The City will post all of their volunteer opportunities on the site. The site is up (in its infant stage) and you can sign-up to receive updates via email now.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info.