May 20, 2015 Leave a Comment
A perspective, by Libby Ziemelis
Today, I’m back to my office after spending two days with some of the most amazing people I have ever known. Each year, the Volunteer Centers of Michigan hosts an annual retreat bringing together as many of the 28 volunteer centers from the state as can make it. This year, we were in the Flint area for educational workshops and my favorite part – our signature service project.
On Monday, our staff joined our friends from around the state to make a difference. We met up at King Karate who operates the Harvesting Earth Educational Farm (HEEF). They believe that karate and farming go hand-in-hand.
“Farming, just like karate, involves discipline and self-defense. It takes patience, commitment, and hard work to obtain a rank promotion in karate, just as it does to clear land, plant, and cultivate crops. At our organic urban farm, Harvesting Earth Educational Farm, we teach people that their food choices are a part of their self-defense. When you know what you are putting into your body, you can help defend yourself against sickness and disease. When you grow your food locally, you are defending your community and your environment.” -HEEF
We spent the afternoon getting the farm ready for the season: weeding garden beds, mowing, weed-whacking and shoveling compost. The compost was hauled into greenhouses for the students to take over. We worked as a team to transform overgrown and weed-filled areas into beautiful spaces just ready to be filled with nutritious foods. We laughed, got dirty, and earned sunburns. Best of all, we made a difference. See the coverage from ABC12 News.
Thank you, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, for bringing us together and reminding us that our work is not thankless. Thank you, HandsOn Genesee for introducing us to an amazing organization that is dedicated to Flint. As a network, we build communities, one volunteer at a time. We are volunteers. We are community. We are love and compassion for the cities and towns in which we live.
Being surrounded by people who love what they do is always an incredible experience and I’m honored to be a part of this. Volunteer Kalamazoo has been my home away from home for me for years, and every day, I remain inspired by the work that I do. Take some time to get involved in Kalamazoo – you’ll be glad you did.