Neighborhood Spotlight – May 2nd, 2011

Working in El Salvador on a trip with Habitat for Humanity

The past spotlights have focused on many active residents that have been in the neighborhood for years, sometimes decades. I thought this week we could take a moment to cast a light on the younger generation of active Mid City residents.

Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity has had a presence in the Mid City since its inception in 1986. These days they are as active as ever and much of that growth has been helped by their AmeriCorps volunteers in recent years. Danielle Corsaut has been with Habitat the last two years, living and working in the Mid City. As the Youth Program Volunteer Coordinator, she has been opening up relationships and improving old ones with high schools and colleges in the area to get them involved at Habitat. In fact it was her initiative that got out the Lincoln High School National Honor Society to work on the Grubb YMCA GED classroom and the bulk of our volunteers for this past weekend’s Rock the Block along the 6th Avenue Corridor.

Though her involvement doesn’t stop at the end of the work day. She has a strong fervor for service in her personal life as well. Her free time is spent with the Everybody Wins! Iowa reading program, Blank Children’s Hospital, and most recently as a new coach for the Grubb YMCA’s youth soccer program. She grew up playing sports, but this is her first time as the head coach for a soccer team. I asked her how she has enjoyed her season thus far, “I am having a lot of fun!  We have won a game and lost one so far. There seems to be a lot of crying, which I hope is just the age group and not me…” The YMCA is thrilled with her participation. She has been actively using the Y since she moved to the neighborhood, and after building up a relationship with the staff they approached her to get involved as a coach.

Danielle didn’t grow up here in Des Moines; she spent most of her life in Maxwell, IA before heading off to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa. That is where she learned of her love for volunteering, “There are just so many opportunities that interest me, so what better way to learn & affect others than by giving my time?” Since moving here, she has seen a lot of change for the better in the neighborhoods, a lot of it just on her block. Many homes she drives or walks by every day have gone from run down to renovated in a very short period. But it is not just the homes being cleaned up, her neighbor Al has worked really hard to create a sense of community on her block, and you can see him every day helping a neighbor mow their lawn or just shooting the breeze with the families in the area.

It has been a short time for her in the Mid City, and she has found many great ways to give back to the community. Though, what’s next for her is still up in the air. She loves Des Moines, and whatever she chooses to do we hope she stays connected to what she has been able to do here..