Students take Charge in Local Economy

Senior Anna Collins volunteers at the Birmingham Historical Museum on the weekends.

“I really like it there,” Collins said. “It’s a really small museum and sometimes I run the front desk talking to visitors or sometimes I help set up exhibits, all sorts of things depending on what they need that week.”

Collins volunteers at one of the seemingly endless amount of volunteering opportunities that the Birmingham community offers.

Collins was able to attend meetings where discussions on how to improve the museum were held.

“It was mostly people from the museum board,” Collins said, “but I was a student member there to give a youth perspective on how they can attract teenagers and make it more interactive.”

By tending the front desk and meeting new people, Collins says she has gained a lot of experience. “People will come into the museum and start telling me about their great grandparents in some war so you get to hear really interesting experiences,” Collins said.

Another program is the district-run Birmingham Saturday School which is always looking for more student help in English and Math subject areas, according to Seaholm Community Service Advisor Cheryl Shettel.

“They are open to all students to come and help tutor other kids,” Shettel said.

There are also opportunities that allow students to give back and lend a hand to those less fortunate.

The Welcome Inn Day Center is a daytime shelter, which isn’t very common since most shelters are opened only in the evening. The Center asks for volunteers to provide meals and wash laundry for any homeless people who come by during the day.

“There’s also South Oakland Shelter,” Shettel said. “There they provide a place to sleep in a new host Church every night and they also have the resources to help people find jobs.”

Another program, such as Summer in the City, allows students to go to Detroit and work in a school with younger kids. Usually, people carpool to the school where there are gardens and they get to work with kids.

Senior Caroline Smythe says Summer in the City is a great experience.

“I played with all these kids who live in Detroit,” Smythe said, “and it was really cool because I learned that not everyone lives like we do in Birmingham.”

Senior Georgia Armstrong is involved with a newer non-profit organization called ‘Humble Design.’

Humble Design is a non-profit organization where struggling Detroit and Pontiac families are given free home-makeovers to make their living more comfortable.

Armstrong found the experience to be very eye-opening.

“It showed me how some kids don’t even have a bed and they sleep on the floor,” Armstrong said. “I even met a mother who was living with her pregnant 14 year old daughter. It’s just crazy to think how differently some people are living when they live only 25 minutes away.”

Students can either donate money or time, according to Armstrong. People can help organize the warehouse of furniture or actually give a hand by setting up the furniture in the homes.

These are only a few of the opportunities within the community.

“There is a list that I always have available with all the services listed,” Shettel said. “It all really depends on what you’re looking to get involved in. I think it’s good to have students maybe go with a friend and do things they’re not usually comfortable doing and maybe challenge themselves.”

For any questions or details on any of these services, please contact Mrs. Shettel in the Community Service Office or by email at

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