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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan's AmeriCorps Alum Spotlight

MI AmeriCorps Alum Spotlight - January 2021: Sarah Chatterley

For some people, service to others becomes a lifestyle. That was the case for Sarah Chatterley who served three terms of AmeriCorps service between 2012-2016. First, she served a summer term with the Power of We Consortium AmeriCorps State Program at the Ingham County Land Bank increasing access to fresh food for refugees in the Lansing area. Next, she served for a year with the Together We Prepare AmeriCorps Program at the Kalamazoo Red Cross providing disaster relief education to youth and the community. During her third term, Sarah served at the Cherry Street Health Center increasing access to and utilization of primary and preventative health care for underserved and marginalized communities.

“My AmeriCorps service experiences gave me a perspective I might not have had otherwise,” Sarah reflected. “My eyes were opened to the struggles and barriers that underserved and marginalized communities face daily. It increased my awareness and understanding of people who are different from me. It ignited my passion to serve as an ally to historically marginalized populations, including Hispanic and Latinx populations, the Black community, refugees and asylees, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community. It introduced me to the idea of social and racial equity and motivated me to focus on equity for the rest of my life in whatever career path I choose. It also taught me to lead by example, and that actions speak much louder than words. It reinforced my sentiment that it is a responsibility of each and every one of us to better our community for all its residents.”

After completing her AmeriCorps service terms, Sarah went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Policy, and Planning from Grand Valley State University. “I decided that policy had a lot to do with how we see our neighborhoods and could function to divide communities if not crafted thoughtfully, intentionally, and with the communities that policies affect,” Sarah stated. “I wanted to work in policy to ensure that policies are made for the benefit of all those they affect and not just privileged populations. This has led me to become involved with policy research, analysis, and development for local governments.” In 2019, Sarah joined the Planning Commission for the City of Wyoming and later ran as a candidate for Kent County Commissioner for District 8.

Sarah is dedicated to a life of public service and civic engagement. “I work to connect neighbors and friends to civic engagement so that we can reach a place where all people feel like they are included in decisions that affect the community, and that all their concerns and ideas are heard and understood. I volunteer and donate however and whenever I can to the causes I believe will benefit my community.”

For more information about AmeriCorps, visit www.americorps.gov.