#LifeOnTheAvenue is a series that will profile the people, organizations and places in the University Avenue Corridor that make the region unique, compelling and – most importantly – vital to Flint’s bright future. Follow along on social media using the #LifeOnTheAvenue hashtag
Community involvement is something instilled in Kettering University students from the moment they arrive on campus.
From Service Saturday projects to volunteering with local organizations, Kettering students are embedded in the Flint community. Now, they have one more opportunity to make an impact.
Community Vitality Coordinator positions were created as a way to allow students to start and complete a community project within the school term. The funds are made available through Federal Work-Study.
“The purpose is to get students out in the community,” said Jack Stock, Director of External Relations for Kettering University. “Whenever the neighborhood associations, agencies or organizations in the area have certain needs they can’t fill with the staff they have, it’s an opportunity for Kettering to say we can provide a student that’s eager and ready to go.”
Currently, students are working on projects for Sunset Village Apartments, Mott Park Recreation Area, Flint Children’s Museum, Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School and within the Stevenson neighborhood.
Adam Hartley ‘20 is a Business major working with Sunset Village Apartments and its new owners.
For Hartley, who graduated from Powers Catholic High School, giving back to this community is important to him not only as a Kettering student but as someone from the area.
“I’m helping Sunset Village owners create a community that’s sustainable and will last and keep improving. It would be nice to have a nice community down the street. That’s why I want to do this,” Hartley said. “I care about this community. I know what Sunset Village used to be and what it can be. To be a part of a chance to bring that back and help out the community in any way excites me.”
Hartley will take the lead on marketing for the apartment complex and help the new owner get the word out about positive changes being made to the property. He has surveyed residents and spoken with families about what they are looking for, as well.
Hartley hopes to make a positive change in the complex’s reputation and get the word out about new improvements, such as a fitness room, clubhouse and possibly a pool.
The hope is to create a positive community.
“I think if you’re living in a community giving back to the community betters that community more than you realize. It’s important,” Hartley said. “The more active you are and the more students you have helping the community the better the community will be. If you’re giving back, you can bond with the community, and you will feel more at home.”
The student projects fit into what Kettering and University Avenue Corridor partners have been focusing on for a few years now.
It’s another key element to CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) method of crime prevention, said Tom Wyatt, Byrne Grant coordinator at Kettering University.
The students are helping create cohesion throughout the University Avenue Corridor community. They are helping change the physical and social environment of places to make them more sustainable.
More people come to the area, which puts more eyes and ears out in the community, which creates a safer environment. What better way to make an impact that utilize all the skillsets at Kettering, Wyatt asked.
“Is there an avenue for Mechanical Engineering or Industrial Engineering or other concentrations to be involved? Having people use that level of expertise and look at how we can create places that have low impact on the environment or sustainable buildings, for example, is a great thing to have,” Wyatt said. “We have amazing engineers here at our disposal.”
Chadwin Hanna ‘17 is working at the Mott Park Recreation Area to help them with their three-year plan to repurpose the Mott Park golf course.
There’s a board set up with members from the area, Kettering and the city of Flint. The goal is to transition the former Mott Park golf course into a space that can be used by the community for recreational purposes. Ideas for the space include a disc golf course, a kayak launch, fishing area and jogging paths.
Hanna’s job is to help them set a finance plan and see which tasks are feasible with the money they have.
But for Hanna, who is from the Bahamas, it’s more than a job. It’s about making community involvement a part of who you are as a person.
“Anywhere I go I feel the need to be more connected to the community. Flint especially is a place where you see such need for community improvement and community development. As soon as I heard of the position I was really intrigued,” he said. “Getting involved with the community helps you get a better understanding of where you live.”
“Even when I co-op I try to volunteer weekly. I enjoy it. It’s fun. You absolutely never know when you will be in a position to need some assistance or the community you are from might be in dire need. You should always be willing to give back because you never know when you might need something given to you.”
Each term, the hope is to have several Kettering students working on new projects in the community. It’s a win-win situation for the students and the community.
“With these students they are fiercely independent and they work on much higher level projects than maybe an intern at an agency. They are working on things such as pop up museums, park designs and important projects,” Wyatt said. “Kettering’s mantra is to develop student leaders, prepare students for lives of leadership and service. This goes right to it. Any city they live in, every city is experiencing challenges like this. It’s another practical way of getting them involved in city problems and solutions.”
The work that has already been happening along the University Avenue Corridor and the work the students will be helping with is a sign that positive changes are coming.
“For example, having the Mott Park Recreation Area as an outlet for fun activities is something great to focus on,” Stock said. “When you see things like that, it’s a milestone in people's minds that positive change is happening. It’s all leading toward this goal of having more private investment in this area. We are taking the steps and doing the work to be on our way to having this exceptional University Avenue Corridor.”