The Eastside Community Action Center, located in Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood, offers an after-school program for children in the neighborhood. This program gives children an outlet for creativity, as well as a place to hone skills learned in school.
At the after-school program, students are provided a light meal, tutoring and activities. Students are tutored by volunteers from organizations such as Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and Davenport University. Daily activities provide students an opportunity to express themselves and provide an outlet for their creativity.
“Our after-school program is our main program, and we are very proud of how far it has come,” said Stan Parker, executive director of the Eastside Community Action Center. “The Eastside Community Action Center was founded in 2007 because, at that time, there were not many city services as it related to recreational programs, after-school programs and tutoring programs. As a result of the numerous requests from the community for programs, we decided to create the Eastside Community Action Center to provide a positive place for the people of our community to come to for support and services.”
Volunteers at the after-school program provide students with the necessary tools and information to thrive in and outside of the community. Students are provided a positive environment to work on homework and creative projects.Parker spoke about how teachers have reported back to him and said that the students in the program were improving in the classroom. Parker attributes these positive steps to the hard work of the volunteers in the after-school program.
“We are more than just a community center, we’re a family,” said Akeela Taylor, an Eastside Community Action Center volunteer and leader of the after-school program. “I want to create a home away from home environment for these kids because sometimes when they go home, they don’t have a positive environment. When I wake up every day and open my eyes, I think about my kids and the fact that they need me. I will always work hard to never let them down as an educator and role model.”
The after-school program requires volunteers and helpers to keep it maintained and running. Shelby Sheridan, an MSU student, volunteers on Monday afternoons to offer assistance to the program.
“We do really fun activities with the kids, like crafts and science projects,” said Sheridan. “I think the activities help the kids really let out all of their energy before they go home for the day, which is probably nice for their parents.”
“I really liked the idea of volunteering here because I think it’s nice to be able to work for a non-profit that is really benefiting the community,” Parth said. “I mostly do bookkeeping and other financial projects on a day-to-day basis, which is perfect for me because I’m studying accounting.”