• Helping to restore Michigan’s historic attractions
• Volunteer partnership with Michigan tourism industry
• Uniting the tourism industry, giving back, and creating connections
“A 100% Volunteer, 100% Give Back Organization” is emblazoned across a collage of individuals uniting to bring betterment to the world under the logo of Michigan Cares for Tourism (MC4T). This organization coordinates clean-ups to restore Michigan’s historic locations and attractions to revitalize them for tourism.
Most cities not only thrive because of, but rely on their tourism industries and Michigan is no different except for the exceptional volunteers that are investing their time in restoring historic attractions in Michigan in support of the tourism industry. Patty Janes, a professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management for Grand Valley State University (GVSU) as well as Volunteer Program Coordinator for MC4T, serves on the international board of Tourism Cares and told us a bit about the beginnings of MC4T, “Tourism Cares was completing volunteer events at iconic historic attractions including Ellis Island, and Mt. Vernon, and in my work with them, I knew there was no model like it; one that brought the tourism industry together in such a unique way, across disciplines, and that Michigan could directly benefit from bringing our own tourism community together.”
Initially Janes approached GVSU, Travel Michigan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Indian Trails, and Tourism Cares in an effort to bring as much of the local powers-at-be together for this project. “And, I didn’t/couldn’t do this alone.” Janes told us, “We needed everyone to contribute in order for it to work.” With a great deal of work on the horizon Janes received the best response possible, “They ALL agreed; and we formed our 100% volunteer, 100% give back partnership.” Following those impactful events the group won a $5,000 startup grant in early 2013 and moved to start their first event by fall of the same year.
Clean-up sites are selected currently by a team of volunteers that work on planning, sponsorship, marketing, logistics, and the events themselves. They work year-round to look for potential sites and then those areas are prioritized by how ready they are for such a large influx of volunteers as well as how large the tourism support area is. Going forward though, they are working on an RFP process that will hopefully streamline site selection.
So far the MC4T camp has restored 4 historic areas over the past 3 years. They provided more than $300,000 worth of labor and
supply savings to these sites according to their own statistics. They have been able to accomplish this through 165 unique sponsors and the near 900 tourism industry professionals who have volunteered their time and talents.
Dave Lorenz, Vice President with Travel Michigan is a volunteer and he had this to say about the experience, “When people come together and volunteer for a cause, we do more than change ‘the place’. The experience of personal sacrifice can change us…make us better people…help us to see our world in a new way and help us to realize that problems can be solved…one at a time…if we only make a personal commitment to make it happen.” Lorenz has participated in all of the projects to date.
This program has a positive impact on the Michigan events industry, not only in its preservation of the historical landmarks that bring in tourism, but in ways that were detailed to us by Janes. “Our volunteers work alongside professionals from CVBs, lodging facilities, events, food service operations, recreation sites, and other industry suppliers and leave better connected. These collective outcomes create enhanced meetings/events as we are better resources, better networked, and better engaged.”
The success of the program led to increased interest from both sponsors and volunteers. MC4T now has a trailer full of supplies ready to assist volunteers in their restoration efforts. As they continue to raise money to stay a 100% volunteer, 100% give back operation the only thing they need now is locations to assist. If you’re in the Michigan area and want to get involved, they are announcing their fall 2016 site in April at the Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Find more information and updates at www.michigancaresfortourism.com to help restore history, give, learn, and grow with Michigan Cares for Tourism.