Getting Involved with Avalon Housing

By: Avalon Housing

People, especially student groups and companies, often ask me ‘”how can we volunteer for Avalon Housing?”

This is a great time of year to think about getting involved, and there is no shortage of ways to do so. Before you consider volunteering, it’s important to begin by learning more about homelessness and Avalon’s work in the community.

November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month, with the week before Thanksgiving, November 11-19, dedicated each year to local events and educational opportunities to learn about the challenges that over 4,000 Washtenaw County residents face when they experience homelessness.  Becoming familiar with what leads to homelessness – and the sustained impacts it has on those who experience it- is an essential first step.

You can see an EMU panel on student homelessness on November 8 at Cultivate Coffee House in Ypsilanti.   Attend the WHA (Washtenaw Housing Alliance)’s screening of @home, a documentary about homelessness, at Zingerman’s Greyline on November 15.  Hear directly from people who’ve experienced homelessness, including some Avalon tenants, at Voices of Homelessness: Stories from Those with Lived Experience on Friday, November 17th at the Common Cup.   Visit WHA’s website for a complete list of events for November.  You can also check out Avalon’s opening of the Clinic at Miller Manor in partnership with Packard Health on Friday, November 17 from 3-5pm at 727 Miller Road, Ann Arbor. The new clinic addresses the specific health challenges faced by chronically homeless and medically vulnerable individuals and families.

Avalon’s VOCAL (Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders) program trains resident leaders to tell their story at various community events.  If you’re a member of an organization in Washtenaw County, you can invite one of Avalon’s resident leaders to share their story at your group’s meeting or community event.  You can also attend an Avalon information evening to learn more about our mission and volunteer opportunities.  We also provide tours of our properties on a monthly basis – it’s one of the best ways to see our mission in action.

Working with kids at our After School Program

Throughout the school year, Avalon needs volunteers to help out at our After School Program (ASP) for school-aged children.  ASP volunteers make a commitment of one day a week for a full semester and  support our youth in academic enrichment, team building activities and a variety of projects.

Welcome basket for new Avalon residents, courtesy of The Generosity Project

As we head into the end of the year, we have more needs for donations of new items, such as new toys for our youth, items for our holiday party gift bags, and warm weather wear. Throughout the year Avalon families need new youth school supplies, welcome basket items, and community center equipment.

Throughout 2017 we have been grateful for our partnership with The Generosity Project, an organization focused on teaching children about generosity and philanthropy.  Generosity Project gathers donations of gifts and basic necessities, works with schools and youth groups to package these items and distributes them to under-resourced members of the community. This fall, The Generosity Project partnered with The Pilates Loft Studio in Ann Arbor to collect items for new move in baskets for our tenants. It’s extremely helpful for tenants moving into Avalon to have a few basic items to start their new home, such as cleaning supplies, dish towels, toiletries, and sheets. We cannot thank these organizations enough for working with our staff and tailoring their project to really fit the needs of our residents.

We hope you’ll take the first step to learn more about the issue of homelessness in our local community.  Learn more about Avalon and how supportive housing provides a long-term solution to homelessness, and how you might help.

If you or a group you’re a part of would be interested in learning about or supporting Avalon, please contact  Andrea Wilkerson, Avalon’s Community Relations Coordinator, at (734) 864-2295.

By Andrea Wilkerson