About Benton Harbor
Southwest Michigan is an area with miles of scenic shoreline, popular for boating and fishing, thanks to Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River. These shores are also home to the city of Benton Harbor. This is a city that once thrived because of its booming industrial economy, however, there are some painful parts to its story as well, particularly in relationship to its “twin city” of St. Joseph. These two cities, separated by the St. Joseph River, have seen significant conflict due to the disparity between the two. St. Joseph is predominately Caucasian, while Benton Harbor is predominately African-American. The median household income in St. Joseph is nearly three times that of Benton Harbor. This stark contrast has led to racial tension and unrest at times, and residents of Benton Harbor also face the struggles of poverty and poor infrastructure and education. In the midst of all of this, revitalization efforts are under way, and there are many who are committed to seeing this community be restored.
Serving in Benton Harbor
- Partner with local organizations to meet ongoing needs in the community.
- Serve through painting, cleaning, yard work or other simple work projects.
- During the week, students may serve at one or more of the above service options; however, two of our key service partners who work with children typically do not start their summer programming until the third week of June.
During a week in Benton Harbor, you and your youth will partner with local organizations to serve the city’s youngest and oldest residents and assist with yard work and painting homes. In the evenings your group will tour Water Street Glassworks and learn about the fine arts community that continues to grow in Benton Harbor, experience local BBQ, and experience the Lake Michigan beach. In addition you will learn more about the community through a scavenger hunt, a local hip hop dance group that gives kids in the community a positive outlet, and hear the story of Benton Harbor from a community friend.
YouthWorks has been serving in the city of Benton Harbor since 2000. More recently, YouthWorks has been able to work closely with key leaders in the community to engage in local projects at the city level.