Bridging the Opportunity Divide

A ‘Good News’ Story From Flint

May 18, 2017
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A ‘Good News’ Story From Flint
Thomas Shomaker, Emily B. Hager
When a state of emergency was declared due to lead in the main water supply of Flint, Mich., service year corps members were already on the ground. Now, they’re key to the community’s long-term recovery effort.

LaBria Lane spends her days inside the greenhouses of Holmes STEM Academy, a middle school in Flint, Mich. She keeps her hair and nails short, ideal for gardening and teaching children the benefits of eating fresh produce.

Fruits and vegetables are important everywhere, but if you zoom down into Flint and talk about the lead crisis, vitamins in fruits and vegetables help to deter lead from storing in the bones,” says Lane.

Lane is part of a group of service year corps members who began working in Flint in 2014 — the same time that the city’s lead situation was making headlines. Prior to the water crisis, four nonprofit organizations took a coordinated step: They worked together to recruit and host individuals to serve as AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members. Their joint effort resulted in higher numbers than they would have been able to achieve working alone. In the span of just two years, the number of service year corps members rose from 30 to more than 200.

This approach is now known as the “Flint Model.”

Because of the established service year force on the ground, Flint was better prepared to respond to the water crisis. Without these individuals, much of the aid received by the city might not have been effectively distributed.

“There are a lot of great people here who are actually here trying to help build the city up,” says Jessika Larkin, another service year corps member. 

In this episode of NationSwell’s eight-part mini-documentary series on service years, learn about the Flint Model and “Service Year Impact Communities.” NationSwell asks you to join our partnership with Service Year Alliance. Watch the video above. Contact your elected officials and ask them to support national service. Do a service year yourself. Together, we can lead a movement to give young Americans the opportunity to help bridge the divides in our country.

MORE: Service Year: Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal

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