The origin of the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center dates all the way back to 1844. Founded by the Daughters of Charity in Detroit, SVSF began as a kindergarten for orphaned children. It evolved through the years, moving from Farmington Hills to Detroit, but continued its underlying mission of helping others.
SVSF holds an adult program to help individuals 18 years and older prepare and pass their GED. The program aims to create basic skill-building and form self-sufficiency skills and assist in gaining stable employment. “Our students pass all segments of GED on their first attempt 95% of the time”. Their goal is to bridge the educational gap in Detroit.
SVSF also holds after school and summer programs for first through fifth graders. These are personalized one-on-one tutoring for children at risk. Barriers are identified and the program is tailed to meet each unique need of the children. An individual work plan is created for each child to meet their educational needs. Healthy snacks and lunches are also provided to aid concentration.
All programs at SVSF are free, as the whole program is based off of donations, grants and subsidies. As the needs of the community have grown, so has the center. There are now 4 locations for the adult GED program in the Detroit region. In 2014, the Children’s Wing was opened at their main campus, 16800 Trinity, Detroit. This has doubled the capacity for both Children programs and also added an adult computer lab.
After hearing about this remarkable program, I was thrilled to volunteer. The main contribution was to create a vegetable garden in their outdoor area. The garden bed was prepared by weeding and turning the soil which was done without the assistance of the children. Once the foundation was ready, the children in the after school program were divided into groups to help with the planting. This was the fun part!
Each group was assigned to a section of the garden with particular seeds and starter plants to plant. Many of the children have never planted anything before so it was exciting to see them get their hands dirty. Marigolds were planted in the front of the vegetable garden which was explained to the children that this was to prevent aphids from infecting our plants. As different vegetables were planted, the nutritional benefits were discussed along with different ways the food could be eaten. Labels were also created for each vegetable along with a brief description of the nutritional benefits.
A diagram of MyPlate was used to show the children roughly what a nutritiously balanced plate should look like. The five food groups were, discussing different foods that could be categorized in each. A fun relay game was played, allowing the children to test their knowledge of the different food groups!
There are many ways you can contribute to SVSF. Volunteers are always needed for tutoring, child care, administrative assistance or publicity and marketing. You could also donate money, which can be done directly online, or even by donating a variety of needs such as paper towels and school supplies.