Our Department has a long-standing association with Mid-Iowa Community Action, the local anti-poverty agency. The connection began in the mid-1980s when Chris Hunter first joined the Board of Directors of MICA. Since 1985, Chris Hunter has served on the MICA Board as the college's representative, except for about 6 years when Kent McClelland had that role. Chris and Kent both acted as Chair of the MICA Board during those years. Chris has been Chair twice, for about 6 years total, out of his almost 20 years on the Board.
That connection has created lots of opportunities for faculty and students. For instance, Chris and Kent provided an extensive organizational assessment of MICA during a short period when neither served on the Board, offering advice that MICA actually enacted.
More significantly for our majors, from 1999 through 2002, Chris Hunter sponsored thirteen student summer MAPS with MICA as the focus (working jointly with Kent McClelland on some of them). Chris sponsored two more MAPs in the summer of 2009 that examined the effects of the ramp-up of ARRA funding (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) on MICA. Many of those majors have gone on to work for nonprofit organizations, including community action agencies, building on their familiarity with MICA and the varied work done by community action agencies.
In addition, occasionally over the years, Chris has sponsored internships at MICA. Recently Ragnar Thorisson '10 volunteered for a semester internship with MICA, becoming such a key source of research for grant-writing that MICA hired him the following semester as a part-time employee. Ragnar was recognized for such contributions to MICA by being selected as the MICA Volunteer of the Year. Ragnar's service to MICA, Grinnell, and the community at large was also the basis for his selection as the 2011 President's Medalist! Annie Pigott '12 is our current MICA summer intern. Many sociology majors volunteer with MICA, doing things like supporting the annual effort to provide help with federal income tax forms, as a Earned Income Tax Credit Volunteer like Kate Eno '11 has done.
As the college has expanded its wonderful Grinnell Corps program, which provides funding for recent alumni/ae to do service work in various locations around the world, MICA has become the sole local Grinnell Corps site. Two Sociology alumnae have served as Grinnell Corps volunteers with MICA in recent years: Daisy Ventura (in 2009-2010) and Allison Brinkhorst (in 2011-2012).
Speaking of the Grinnell Corps, our majors have eagerly applied for, and often been selected as, Grinnell Corps volunteers. In addition to our local MICA Grinnell Corps members, recently we have see Nichole Baker '10 go to China, and Latona Giwa '10 and Ellie Deal '11 go to New Orleans.
When you add all of our majors who volunteer for Alt Break trips, as participants and as leaders, and all of those who do other volunteer work in Grinnell with Community Meal and other programs like the downtown mural project, it is clear our majors take their social responsibilities very seriously and benefit from those efforts tremendously. We are grateful that the college has provided considerable funding for these efforts, even during the economic downturn!