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Getting Involved

ALA 102 Service Projects

Each year, MCSP first-year students are asked to participated in a community service activity as a part of the required ALA 102 class.  This past year, 125 students participated in one or more of the following activities:

  • Ronald McDonald House: The Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor is a "home away from home" providing comfort and shelter to families experiencing the pain of having a sick child in an area hospital.  Volunteers prepare dinner for the parents and siblings whose loved one is receiving care at Mott's Children's Hospital.
  • Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Aboretum, Natural Areas Restoration Work:Volunteers help to preserve ecosystems that are native to Southeast Michigan by removing invasive, non-native shrubs from high-quality natural areas.  Information about Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Natural Areas Restoration Work
  • AIDS Walk: Come and join hundreds of others making the first step in helping raise money and awareness for HIV / AIDS.  At the AIDS Walk volunteers will be expected to either help with set-up or direct walkers, participate in the walk themselves, and assist with the beginning of clean-up.
  • CROP Walk: By participating in the CROP Walk, you will aid in bringing awareness about the frightening plight of the hungry in today's world.  Volunteers will assist in setting up for the walk, registering walkers, and will participate in the walk themselves.
  • Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary: Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary provides a safe haven to abandoned, abused and neglected domestic rabbits with the goal of adopting them out to loving homes.  Volunteers at the Rabbit Sanctuary clean pens, paint or complete other projects the sanctuary needs to operate successfully. 
  • Vineyard Church: Vineyard Church in Milan, MI operates a food pantry which allows customers to visit the church and pick up canned goods and other food.  Volunteers assist the pantry in serving food directly to customers. 
  • Leslie Science and Nature Center: The Leslie Science and Nature Center is a nonprofit organization that provides environmental education and experience for children, families and other individuals to honor and perpetuate the legacy of Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Leslie by fostering understanding, appreciation, stewardship and respect for the natural world.  Volunteers work in the Critter House, assist program coordinators, maintain trails, garden or participate in a variety of special programs.
  • Halloween Spooktacular at the Ann Arbor YMCA: Volunteer at the Ann Arbor YMCA's Halloween celebration!  Volunteers dress up in their Halloween best and help put on a fun, educational activity for Ann Arbor youth at the Ann Arbor YMCA.
  • Recycle Ann Arbor -- ReUse Center: Recycle Ann Arbor is a non-profit agency which is an integral part of the successful recycling of the City of Ann Arbor.  The ReUse Center is a resale warehouse where the public is encouraged to donate and purchase various types of items.  At the ReUse Center volunteers help sort and organize donated material, make displays, help organize the store and help make sure the ReUse Center is running smoothly.
  • Fall Chore Day: Many elderly residents in our community no longer have the energy and stamina to rake their leaves and prepare them for the annual city leaf pickups.  MCSP students have joined other volunteers to help older residents with these tasks.  This work is coordinated under the auspices of Neighborhood Services for Seniors.

Student Initiatives

Partnering with Refugees: In order to better understand global issues while operating locally, MCSP students have engaged with residents of the refugee assistance organization Freedom House Detroit. Through language and cultural exchanges, refugees from all over the world gain valuable knowledge and experience about getting by in America while students learn about different cultures and perspectives. Since 2011, students have done everything from discussing current events to cooking with residents of Freedom House. By working with, rather than for residents of the program, both sides are able to benefit in the intercultural partnership.

University-Community Social & Environmental Justice Film & Discussion Series:
MCSP partners with the Ann Arbor District Library to show films on a monthly basis at the public library highlighting social issues. Film directors, faculty, students, and community leaders lead discussions following the films.  Past films have included Bilal’s Stand, Asparagus, Fremont, USA, The Waterfront, Of Civil Rights and Wrongs, Prom Night in Mississippi, Grown in Detroit, Philosopher Kings, An Untold Triumph, Finding the Gold Within, and The Human Experiment.

Upcoming films for Fall 2016 are: The Hunting Ground, Never a Bystander, and Black & Blue.

SHOCK: Students Helping Others Choose Knowledgeably (SHOCK) is a group originating out of MCSP that creates and performs original skits to elementary school students, educating them about substance abuse and encouraging them to remain drug free. Featuring characters that kids know and love (e.g. Spongebob, Batman), these skits are performed across the Ann Arbor community in fifth grade classrooms. SHOCK has been an MCSP staple since the program started in 1999, and  energetic students act, direct, and create skits, and handle behind-the-scenes tasks.

Brightmoor Youth Gardens Partnership: Inspired by the urge to learn about urban and environmental issues simultaneously, MCSP students established a partnership with the Brightmoor Community Garden in Detroit.  Initially, Brightmoor resident Riet Schumack created the garden to enliven her dilapidated neighborhood.  Since 2010, MCSP students have helped Riet recruit local youth to plant seeds and learn about organic farming.  In the process, they have modeled leadership skills for Brightmoor’s young men and women and increased access to local produce in Detroit’s food desert.  Together, the MCSP students and local youth have brightened Brightmoor’s future.

Smile Bringer Singers: MCSP’s newest student group takes a musical approach to community service.  Started by first-year Sasha Altschuler, the Smile Bringer Singers perform uplifting songs at local shelters, hospitals and nursing homes.  They have spread much joy and happiness through harmonies throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and they sing an inspiring set at MCSP's "Circle of Unity" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day every year. 

Wolvereaders: MCSP student leaders Maria Cholack and Amani Echols co-founded the student organization WolveReaders in 2015. WolveReaders’ mission is to help elementary school students with reading and writing, as well as excite them about higher education through a mentorship/pen pal program with fellow MCSP students.  Traveling to Ypsilanti’s Estabrook Elementary school bi-weekly, WolveReaders members work with second-graders to help them read/write letters to their University of Michigan mentor.  Additionally, WolveReaders has coordinated special events to help the students associate learning with having fun, such as the PAWS event (where the Tigers’ mascot performed an interactive reading activity for the students) and the end of the year pen pal meet-up (where the second graders spent a day at the University of Michigan).

SWAP: From 2009-2015, MCSP student Melanie Hebeisen led SWAP (Scarves with a Purpose) as a creative way to help the homeless.  Every Tuesday night, she invites students to gather to knit scarves for people in need. Within its first year, SWAP’s popularity spread so far that it opened its doors to everyone in MCSP as well as everyone on the U-M campus.  Even students who have never knitted before are welcome!  SWAP churns out so many scarves that it donates to multiple locations including the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County and the Tumaini Center in Detroit.   

Community Service Clubs

Our Community Service Clubs, led by our Peer Advisors for Community Service (PACS), enable students to explore specific social issues in depth. Each group meets weekly for educational and service-oriented events about their issue. The groups also plan service trips to different community partner sites across the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit area. Since MCSP students have a wide variety of interests, they can join as many teams as they would like!

  • Education and Community Empowerment Club
    Sites: American Indian Health and Family Services, Brightmoor
  • Civil Rights, Borders, and Immigration Club
    Sites: Freedom House
  • Sustainability and Public Health Club
    Sites: Food Gatherers
  • Project-Based Service Club 
    Sites: Bottles of Smiles in partnership with Mott's Children's Hospital, Detroit Partnership Day, Ronald McDonald House

Intergroup Relations Council

Get involved with MCSP's intergroup relations council!

  1. Lead and coordinate dialogue-style conversations with students on a range of topics both within MCSP and in collaboration with other campus units.
  2. Educate and support students from various social identity groups within MCSP
  3. Develop programs for MCSP and campus community that focus and educate on diversity, including issues of power and privilege (collaborating with PB and U)
  4. Train students for community service and civic engagement (with PACS) on constructive and effective ways to work with populations across diverse backgrounds
  5. Plan MCSP MLK day event (Circle of Unity and others) and coordinate outside speakers

Programming Board

Our Programming Board takes a grassroots approach by giving first-year students the chance to create social and service events for their learning community.  In the process of planning engaging programs, they develop lifelong leadership and community-building skills.  Past PB&U events have included a canoe trip to clean-up the Huron River, a Diabetes Awareness Dinner to demystify this commonly misunderstood disease, and a pumpkin-painting party to make Halloween decorations for local families in need.

PB&U plans and hosts events that build community within the MCSP community, including: MCSPaint the Rock, MCSPhamily Nights, Pistons Game, Intramural Sports teams, Improv Comedy Night, MCSPhood Fest (co-sponsored with IRC), cooking baking, picnic in the Arb, and even the winter retreat.