Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

Remembering his Dream

January 17, 2011 was a day Team Indianapolis considered to be more than service! We looked at the Day as an honor to partake in, and came in knowing any service we did could not amount to the remarkable body of work Martin Luther King Jr. has implemented.

This year’s team thought there was no better way to show respect to the day by working together with another AmeriCorps team. We decided to join forces with Public Allies to help clean Indianapolis’s Earth House! The experience, a humbling one, brought together people of all types to come together for a common purpose. We scrubbed floors, clean toilets, moved furniture, vacuumed carpets, and all while getting to know members from another team.

As the day went on, our team discovered/realized something impressive. Even through all the strenuous labor we were doing we should all be thankful for such an opportunity. It’s hard to actually grasp the fact that almost sixty years ago one of the greatest legal cases of all time took place (Brown vs. Board of Education), making it possible for blacks and whites to receive the same education.  Or that in 1960 four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University proposed a sit in after being denied service at a local diner. Although there is still work to be done in our communities, our team realized that our day of service makes great strides.

After our team helped to clean the Earth House we viewed the documentary “Traces of the Trade” with Public Allies. The film was enlightening and definitely a conversation starter. Team Indy has always been proud to be a part of AmeriCorps but even more so on this day! All members that participated in the clean up wore a shirt with King’s face made up of his powerful words that represented unity and empowerment for Team Indianapolis. Although our day ended at 4:00pm, we know there is a nonviolent fight to be done to reach total social justice!

MLK Day in Tulsa

On January 17, 2011, Team Tulsa celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday with a Day of Service. As is tradition with Team Tulsa, we worked the annual MLK parade. Frank Rieder, a state AmeriCorps member serving at the Community Service Council of Tulsa,  joined us in our service.

Frank

We arrived at 7am and we immediately took up the slack of judges who didn’t show up. Parade organizers selected Paige to judge parade floats, while Danielle and Kacie judged the drill teams. Carolyn and Frank helped with odd jobs throughout the staging area. Our original duties were to help guide the buses and teams into their starting positions, but most people seemed to be seasoned veterans of the parade and knew their places immediately.

Paige

After judging, we were assigned to keep the parade route clear, allowing the news cameras to get a clear view of the beginning of the parade. With the parade scheduled to start at 11am, people began filtering in around 10am. By the time it began, the sidewalks were filled with people of all ages, even though the temperature hovered right at the freezing mark.

The five of us and Frank then sat and watched the parade. We noticed the sense of community between the people in the parade and the spectators. Almost everyone knew someone either in or at the parade. HOPE Testing Clinic and Tulsa CARES, an organization that helps those living with HIV/AIDS, had a float in the parade, and former Team Tulsa member, Sam Young walked with them. Heather Nash, another former member of Team Tulsa, represented Guiding Right, a testing center that targets the African-American population, in the parade.

The location of the parade held a special significance. This year, the parade had changed its route. Instead of going north from OSU-Tulsa, the parade headed south down Greenwood Ave., part of the historic Greenwood District that had been destroyed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

Overall, we enjoyed being part of such an historic event, and one that is so loved and respected in the Tulsa community. The organizers appreciated being able to rely on Team Tulsa to do anything necessary for the parade.

Spirit of Service- Team Carolina MLK Day

Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Team Carolina looked forward to beginning the Day of Service early by serving at the Durham Center for Senior Life. Partnered with the United Way, our team, along with about 75 other volunteers gathered together to “Make it a day on, not a day off.” It was a change of scenery to be outside of our offices and in the heart of the community. The Durham Center for Senior Life is an Adult Day Program that helps individuals age 55+ to lead healthy, active and independent lives. Activities range from Bingo to exercise, computer and cooking classes. The gorgeous and spacious facility was the perfect place for seniors to be in a relaxed environment with their peers.

As a group, all of the volunteers, most of whom did not know each other and with little instruction began working together. Our task was simple: to paint the walls of several activity rooms and bathrooms that had become dull beige over the years. We began taping the base boards, light switches and covering anything we didn’t want damaged. All types of paint brushes began stroking the walls until the place was a light mint green. When supplies were low, volunteers chipped in and brought their own from home. While some stooped low to paint base boards, others reached high on ladders in order to reach the ceiling. It was truly wonderful to see the end result of what taking time to serving others can do. That day we all embodied the spirit of Dr. King

It was amazing to see so many people come out to serve. It was even more beautiful to see how many parents brought their children, ensuring that Dr. King’s spirit of service is passed on to the next generation. It meant a lot to Team Carolina to have been apart of this group and it is our hope that the through our acts of service, the seniors who use this space daily will continue to enjoy health, wellness and personal fulfillment.

Chicago’s “Day On”: MLK Day 2011

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.”  -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote, read during the service day opening ceremony at a south-side Chicago Salvation army to 1,000 volunteers, perfectly embodied our experience serving the community this past Monday.  The Chicago City Year program organized a gigantic service day that took place in three elementary schools in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.  We spent the day with a diverse group of volunteers including young children, current AmeriCorps and alum, families, and corporate employees.

All volunteers set out from the Salvation Army bundled in winter clothes and escorted by city police cars around 9:30am.  It was a gusty, snowy morning but spirits were high as we walked through the neighborhood we were going to serve.

As a team, we were assigned to working at Stagg Elementary school.  The school’s project theme centered around literacy.  Stairwells were painted with motivational words and hallways displayed brightly colored high frequency words that increase in difficulty when moving from the first to the third floor of the school.  We worked on making a hands-on painted alphabet for the school’s library which will help students learn their letters.

At Guggenheim Elementary school, volunteers painted fruits and vegetables on cafeteria walls and color wheels in the art room.  They also worked to reorganize and repaint the teachers lounge to make break time more enjoyable for staff.  The walls of D.S. Wentworth Elementary school were decorated with West African Andrinka symbols which volunteers painted on the walls of all three floors in the school.

We met people serving in different capacities and, while painting our letters, were able to talk to other AmeriCorps members about their programs around Chicago.  City Year did an incredible job organizing the event which included tracing over 100 murals in three schools and preparing supplies for the different projects that were going on.

We ended the day by helping clean up the project areas and attending a closing ceremony where the Principal of Stagg Elementary school thanked us for our service to the children and the community.

In truth, the school was transformed.  The brightly colored hallways and alphabet letters brought smiles to our faces and pride to our hearts.  We could only imagine the positive impact the changes we made to the school would have on the students coming back to school Tuesday morning.

World AIDS Day in Metro Detroit

Team Detroit spent World AIDS Day at two health fairs in the metro Detroit area – four of us at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit, and three of us at Affirmations, a prominent LGBT community center in downtown Ferndale.

A free mobile testing unit was located outside both locations. Inside the buildings, our hosted tables passed out a wealth of free HIV/STD brochures, condoms, and safe sex kits – as well as quizzing some willing participants on their HIV knowledge. Much of our day was spent taking photographs for the “Facing AIDS”  photo series. The combination of efforts resulted in close to 100 photos being posted to the AIDS.gov Flickr account.

Our team connected with many other organizations that hosted tables, and in addition to the expected groups from the metro Detroit area, several had traveled more than fifty miles to be there.

We even found a few well-connected people who would be invaluable in assisting with our long term project! We were pleased to see how many people local turned up for the events, and were excited by a few individuals we spoke to who had heard the radio event advertisements just hours before and decided to drop in!

At the end of the day, Team Detroit felt very well rewarded for the effort we put in to the events – they were much more enjoyable than we anticipated.

-Alex Krasicky

DC AmeriCorps serves on World AIDS Day

The Washington D.C. AmeriCorps team had an amazing World AIDS Day spent at the Latin American Youth Center in central D.C. The LAYC serves mainly immigrant Latin American youth in and around the DC area. The DC AmeriCorps team spent a fun-filled day of street outreach, HIV/STD/pregnancy testing and speaking to youth about the HIV epidemic in the District and how important it is for them to know their status.

To our team’s surprise, many of the young people we spoke to on the streets and in the Center were aware of the HIV problem in the area, and many were receptive to our information and getting tested. We set up a full day of sexual education workshops, games, and prizes to make the day fun and educational for the youth.

The DC team set up a red ribbon table, where teens could proudly sport their HIV awareness ribbons, and educate their peers in the process. We also encouraged the youth to write down their experiences with HIV, or their thoughts on the issue. We also provided games to help gain a realistic view on sexual practices and safety.

In the evening, many people joined at Jospeh’s House, a local house creating a loving end-of-life care atmosphere, for a candlelight vigil. There were speakers, a bagpipe player, and an opportunity for any and all people to speak briefly about those they had lost during the past year to HIV/AIDS. The evening ended with a viewing of ‘The Other City’- a compelling documentary featuring the dichotomous struggle of the have and have-not’s in DC, specifically related to the HIV epidemic running rampant in the District. The documentary also featured past AmeriCorps members and placements.

The DC team was truly inspired by the knowledge and awareness in the DC area and felt honored to do their part to help serve the District on such an eventful day.