It may be hard to believe, but another summer is almost over. For 108 students who spent their summer as members of the General Motors Student Corps, they can return to school with a sense of accomplishment. The group, assisted by 60 GM retirees and 11 GM interns, can look back at what they accomplished this summer with pride, knowing they really made a difference in Detroit.
The GM Student Corps, introduced in May, had young people work collaboratively on community service projects they planned and executed. Corps members were chosen to participate in the program from 11 United Way Network of Excellence Schools across the metropolitan Detroit area. The nine week paid internship program ends August 22.
“The program is a wonderful way to show young people in our community the GM family cares about them and their future,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president and president North America. “This is the next generation of leaders. The kind of people we look for are interested in the community, in building things and making a difference. These young people did all of this so well over the summer.”
So, what can you get done in Detroit in a couple of months? Well, the students were able to distribute 30,000 pounds of food, beautify eight Detroit area parks, plant 225 trees, shrubs and flowers, lay 392 yards of mulch, apply 223 gallons of paint, dispose of 205 bags and 29 dumpsters of plant overgrowth and more.
Students also learned life skills and about possible career paths for their futures, including visits to Focus:HOPE, Junior Achievement, the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and University of Detroit Mercy. Reuss says there are already plans to bring the program back next year, after such a successful pilot.
Corps member Donniqua, who we talked to back when the program started, was thrilled by what she learned and impacted by what she saw. “At first we had one project in mind, but had to change,” she said. “On this one street, there were about 12 abandoned houses. We worked together to cut (waist-high) grass, paint the houses and even repaint all of the doors of Cody High School.”
Alexander’s team did a lot more than they thought they could do working together and the neighborhood welcomed their help. “People in the community kept coming up to us and saying, thank you. It made me feel good about what we did,” she said.
Hamtramck High School senior Alkami and his group took on a project of restoring Veterans Park in that city. “I learned the value of teamwork and using the right tools for the right job,” he said. “I also learned that planning a project is as important as the work done on a project.”
UDM Communications Studies Professor Jason Roche and four student videographers chronicled the summer on video and have put together a 60-minute documentary on the teams’ experiences. The students, retirees and interns were able to get quite a bit done in a matter of a few months.
“I believe the Student Corps is symbolic of the change and positive nature of Detroit,” said Mike DiGiovanni, a 31-year GM retiree, GM Student Corps director and graduate of UDM who ran the program.
Reuss was very complimentary of what the GM Student Corps accomplished, “You can all be very, very proud of what you did.”