Ward 1 City Council member Laura Parnell, right, and Michelle Powell talk Tuesday with kids involved with Lets Make a Difference about local government and doing well in school.
ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE Enlarge
MEDINA — Michelle Powell has been making a difference in the lives of children for the last 18 years.
Powell, the founder of Let’s Make a Difference, a Medina nonprofit organization, is preparing for the annual summer enrichment program for elementary-age students who live in Union Square, a subsidized apartment complex.
On Tuesday at the Union Square Community Center, Powell revealed the theme for this summer’s program — “Change Is Challenging” — and, alongside Ward 1 City Council member Laura Parnell, talked to the kids about the choices they can make to make a difference in their lives.
Parnell she shared information about how local government works. She also told the kids about her life growing up in Detroit and how she had to choose to make better decisions in school, and worked to become the business owner and government official she is today.
Parnell is the owner of Cool Beans Cafe on Public Square.
Powell said growing up in Medina with a poor family is much different than it is today, so she is still learning when it comes to working the children in Union Square.
She said she was taught that “we go to school, we respect others, we get ready at night.” Now, Powell is trying to pass those principles along to the young kids through Let’s Make a Difference.
Powell said poverty can put people in a box and that by working hard and doing well in school, kids can make good decisions that will help them become more successful now and later in life.
Powell has expanded Let’s Make a Difference to include older children — eighth grade and up. She is teaching them about leadership and will be giving them leadership positions within the organization.
Powell said when she first started speaking with the older children about leadership opportunities, the idea seemed foreign to them.
They would say, “‘What Miss Michelle? We can be whatever we want, really?’”
Supported by local businesses, churches and other organizations, Let’s Make a Difference is led by volunteers under the direction of Powell.
The summer program runs Monday through Aug. 1, with the annual Kandee Land Karnival at Ray Mellert Park on Aug. 4.