Born and raised in Ann Arbor, local mother of three (with a fourth on the way) Christina Carmichael believes that giving starts at home.
An alum of University of Michigan with a degree in bio-psychology and neuroanatomy (“I didn’t ever use it,” she says) Carmichael began a lifetime of giving back by working with the just before graduation.
“Just before I graduated, they started the first Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society at UM. I responded that I was interested in volunteering, and ended up being one of three co-chairs for the event, and after that I started working for American Cancer Society, and things just evolved from there.”
While working there, she was able to work on projects and with people that were making an impact across the world, but after taking a position at Menlo Innovations and moving back to Ann Arbor, Carmichael got more involved with her local church, Oak Point in Novi, which was planning to open another location in Novi. After taking some time off from work to raise her children, it was she realized that making an impact locally was just as important as working for a non-profit on big, continent-spanning projects.
That includes, in Carmichael’s words, “Building relationships with internationals parents that are at my children’s school; that was a really big thing, because it’s hard to build your language skills if you don’t have anyone to talk with. Right now my oldests’ school is participating in the water for Flint drive, so not only have we donated water but I’ve let people at Menlo know.”
“I think it’s been interesting now as a parent, there are certain limitations on your time and your energy. You want to make sure your family is getting the best of you. I feel like in last few years, the focus kind of shifted to the opportunities God is putting in front of us right here,” said Carmichael. “When I worked for the American Cancer Society it was a big initiative, or like I’m starting this whole project, and now I feel it’s those small, intentional things around you.
Not that nonprofits have completely disappeared from Carmichael’s life. She recently worked with other local moms from the facebook group Ann Arbor Moms to help coordinate a carrier drive for international nonprofit Carry the Future. The group worked with local businesses to set up donation points where people in Ann Arbor could donate baby carriers for refugees and immigrants of the current crisis in Europe.
Of course, motivating Ann Arborites to get out there and make the world a better place is part of keeping altruism local. Most importantly, in Carmichael’s eyes, is making sure her three children are imbued with the spirit of giving back.
“I really feel like, what are those ongoing opportunities that we can do as a family? Because we can do more when everyone else is participating. I think it’s also really valuable to help your kids have a broader perspective than just your community.”