AmeriCorps Inspires, Volunteers Take Action

Sarah Topp Sarah Topp
This week is Michigan AmeriCorps week and the focus is to inspire others to practice kindness and to pass it on. It’s far too easy to get a little bit self-absorbed at times, but opportunities to give back to our families, our community, and other things we are passionate about present themselves more often than we may realize! In fact, MUCC’s On the Ground program offered one of many chances to give back to public lands with our OTG Rabbitat event this weekend. Beyond my service, I am implementing random acts of kindness this week by giving a little extra each day and focusing on the simple gestures I might otherwise neglect.
On Monday I donated money to my former rugby team, The Northstars, for their trip to the Nashbash tournament this spring.  On Tuesday I shared quotes from my favorite authors and poets, accompanied by chocolate, with the wonderful staff of MUCC.  The purpose of this week has made me more aware of simple acts of kindness and generosity. Nonetheless, I strive to be genuine and kind in my everyday life.  From anything as simple as a smile to a familiar face to a stranger alike, endearing notes hidden in well-thought-out places for my significant other to stumble upon; to more complex gestures such as jumping up out of my cozy bed to hop in the car and drive many miles to be there for a person in need, donating that item I've held on to for years knowing that somebody will appreciate it more, or volunteering a day of my time to support a cause I’m passionate about.
TrailCome to think of it, I see examples of acts of kindness on just about all of my outdoor adventures and endeavors.  A glove placed on a branch overhanging a snow-covered trail so that a cold hand may reunite with it, a journal hidden in a hole of a rock wall in the “secret spot” high up in the mountains I’d thought nobody else had discovered—filled with stories of gratitude and humble moments in the great wilderness, and always a friendly hello followed by meaningful conversation and sharing of food if you encounter another human being on the paths less traveled.
Volunteers stand proud after creating new brush piles for rabbitat
Enough about me, let’s focus on our volunteers at MUCC! Talk about inspiring acts of kindness; these people are truly generous. They sacrifice their time, many driving from locations over an hour away, to attend MUCC’s On the Ground (OTG) events.  Just this past weekend, 28 volunteers dedicated their Saturday to creating rabbitat in the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area.  Some were both returning OTG volunteers and avid rabbit hunters, such as James and Lacy Snyder and Wayne Hanson; many were new and wanting to get involved in conservation efforts such as the Conservation Club from Dow High School and Melanie Ross along with her father Jeff Ross.  Volunteer Matt Niemiec, representing his chapter of Trout Unlimited, attended because he wanted to spend the day enjoying the outdoors and thought this would be a great opportunity to do just that!
Volunteers Jacob Bennett and Bo Brueck perfect the lattice-work involved in creating rabbitat! Volunteers Jacob Bennett and Bo Brueck perfect the lattice-work involved in creating rabbitat!
These are just a few of our volunteers that provide an astounding example of kindness by giving their time to something they’re passionate about; the conservation of Michigan’s public land. Our volunteers give much more than just their time. On some occasions, volunteers sacrifice their comfort as well while temperatures often plummet below zero in the winter months, a select few days get hot and humid in the late summer, or rain and snow mix in late fall.  For many, these OTG events are both a learning experience of the hard manual labor involved in creating new habitat for wildlife, such as large brush piles for rabbits, and an eye-opener to the necessities of habitat restoration to keep wildlife protected from the varying weather conditions and predators.
You don’t have to be an AmeriCorps member to give back and pass on the kindness! So, for AmeriCorps week, think of something you can do to bring a smile to someone else's face; a note, a gesture, a helping hand or even a few hours building some brush piles on a cold Saturday morning.

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