Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

Love Me Tender: Team NOLA Flirts with Bondage

Having already walked dogs at the animal rescue, weeded a sculpture garden, and repaired a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Team NOLA next decided to volunteer at a bondage education night. On February 16th, Team NOLA volunteered at the New Orleans Gay Men’s Wellness Center’s inaugural event– “Love Me Tender: Flirting with Bondage the Proper Way”.

The Wellness Center is a project of the Louisiana Office of Public Health which focuses on promoting health in all aspects of the body, mind, and spirit. Team NOLA member Brandon, who serves as an Americorps member at the Wellness Center, planned and organized “Love Me Tender”. At this event, attendees were educated on safe bondage practices as well as offered free, rapid HIV testing.

The event took place on the second floor of John Paul’s, a gay bar located in a beautiful house in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. Team NOLA arrived an hour early to help set up the event.

Brandon opened the event with an exercise to break the ice. A volunteer stood with his/her back to the audience. Then Brandon held up a word and the audience gave clues to the volunteer to help him/her guess the word. All volunteers were awarded prizes, such as condoms or a copy of Rough Trade, an anthology of gay S&M erotica.

Next, local masseuse and bondage expert Patrick Tyrus gave a talk about safe bondage practices. Some of the topics he covered were the best knots and ropes to use, basic safety rules, and the importance of communication.

After a short break, Tyrus gave a live demonstration of all the topics he had just discussed. He tied up a woman who had previously arranged to volunteer and demonstrated different ways to use spanking, chopsticks, and clothespins in one’s bondage practice. After some Q&A, the event was over. Some audience members took the opportunity to have Tyrus demonstrate a few rope ties on them.

The event was a success. The small room was bursting with about 35 attendees, 3 of whom were tested for HIV and all of whom were educated on safe bondage practices.

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with Team Indy

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was February 7th and Team Indianapolis recognized the day by helping ACT Against AIDS at the Indianapolis Urban League.

We helped set up and tear down for the evening but most importantly helped an event happen that gave a venue to the community to celebrate the people who have been fighting the fight for years.

Deputy Mayor Olgin Williams and many others spoke about the importance of taking this disease seriously in every community.

We even heard about how the disease must be addressed in the churches. There was a candlelight vigil, door prizes, Service award, live testimonials, and much much more.

One of our teammates, Lisa was interviewed about the work we are doing and why we were supporting that day of service.

There was an air in the room that was a great reminder of just how many people in our community are fighting the disease but the messages received reminded us that we need to find some new innovative ways to stop the disease from getting any worse in the black community.

MLK Day in ABQ

Team New Mexico partnered with Public Allies New Mexico AmeriCorps and Amy Biehl High School on a Martin Luther King Day service project. Our team spent the day at the Albuquerque Opportunity Center (AOC), one the area’s largest emergency shelters in the area for homeless men. The AOC is part of the Metropolitan Homelessness Project in Albuquerque, and is committed to ending homelessness in the area through a variety of initiatives. They offer a community voicemail program, a transitional housing program for veterans and also a respite care program. We helped out at the emergency shelter and dorm.

Team New Mexico partnered with Public Allies to help organize the service project. Public Allies is a national AmeriCorps program that places volunteers in different non-profits throughout the community. Similar to AIDS United AmeriCorps, volunteers meet as a group on a regular basis for trainings and other group activities, and also to organize a yearly long term project.

We also worked with Amy Biehl High School, which is a local charter high school for at risk youth located in downtown Albuquerque. Amy Biehl hosts an annual school wide MLK day of service, including a celebration with local performance artists honoring Martin Luther King. Although it is the only school in Albuquerque which actually is open on MLK day, the school makes an impact by sending volunteers–staff and students–throughout the community to various service projects.

At the Albuquerque Opportunity Center, the shelter provides 74 men a bed and nightstand in a large dorm. Part of our work was to clean the beds, nightstands, and walls throughout the shelter. Volunteers also helped by painting walls and raking and landscaping the courtyard outside. During the day, all of the volunteers learned about different initiatives in the community that are being implemented to combat homelessness. The AOC is involved in the Albuquerque Heading Home project to provide housing for 75 homeless men and women. The program seeks to find 75 of the most chronic homeless in the area and establish permanent housing for them by partnering with the city and different non profits in the area. Throughout the day, we all gained a better appreciation and perspective on what it means to be homeless in Albuquerque, and the work being done to combat homelessness.

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.


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.


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.