In neighborhoods across the state, block parties are synonymous with summer. The sound of music playing coupled with the promise of food, friends, and fun is enough to draw children and adults from miles away.
Our Meet up and Eat Up community block parties build on this tradition by providing a nutritious meal, and sharing information about United Way’s Education, Economic Prosperity and Health work in Southeastern Michigan.
One of the primary goals of United Way’s Meet Up and Eat Up block parties is to connect families with their nearest summer meal site. More than 700 Meet Up and Eat Up sites provide more than 1 million free meals for children 18 and younger every summer. And in 2018, more than 1,000 people accessed free meals and resources at United Way’s block parties.
Block parties wouldn’t be possible without the support of volunteers.
This summer, 69 volunteers from five companies: Lear, Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, General Motors, KPMG and six labor groups: CWA Local 4100 (Communications Workers of America), IBEW Local 58 (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers Local 372, Operating Engineers Local 547 and Utility Workers Union of America Local 223 joined together to give a total of 241.5 hours assisting with various activities during the events.
Volunteers from GM gave back at the July 9 and July 12 block parties in Detroit. There, they were able to spend a meaningful day giving back to their community.
“Seven people from my department participated and what’s really cool is that we all got to do something different,” said Lindsay Wysocki, project delivery manager at General Motors and first-time United Way volunteer. “When we started the day, the volunteer coordinator listed all the areas where they needed help and we were each able to pick an activity that appealed to us personally.”
GM employees volunteer year-round with United Way—from care packages for new parents to beautifying neighborhoods during National Volunteer Week in April. In the past year, more than 100 GM employees have given time at nine projects. Lindsay said volunteering at the block party made a big impact on her team.
One of Lindsay’s team members helped register residents to vote and another helped children create hand puppets. While packing bags of fresh carrots, cabbage, canned goods and more, which were donated by Gleaners Food Bank, Lindsay reflected on the impact of partner organizations working together.
“It was really cool because our team has volunteered with Gleaners in the past and we packed giant pallets of food,” she said. “Here, we got to see the next step – food going directly to the community. It was really special.”
Lindsay and her team impacted more than 300 people who received food and resources at the block party.
Since sharing her experience in person and in an internal General Motors IT newsletter, more employees have shown an interest in volunteering. Lindsay says she expects to have even more people participating in next summer’s block parties.
“We can all get caught up in our daily routines going to work and coming home,” Lindsay said. “It’s nice to get out of your comfort zone and see firsthand the impact you can have by just giving a bit of your time.”
For more information on how you can get involved, visit our volunteer portal at UnitedWaySEM.org/volunteer.