Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

Team Indy explores the NAMES Quilt

On November 12th, Team Indianapolis traveled to Bloomington, IN to read names and help monitor the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  This project allowed the team to explore and appreciate the quilt, a tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS and the largest known piece of community folk art as of 2010.

The quilt was started in 1987 as a memorial to and celebration of the lives of early victims of the virus.  The pieces of the quilt are composed of 6’ x 3’ pieces of material decorated with anything from paint and embroidery to baby shoes and CD’s.  Currently, the quilt consists of 46,000 individual memorial panels and weighs about 54 tons.  The last time all of the pieces were displayed together was on the National Mall in 1996.  Today small collections of the quilt travel the country and are displayed at various locations.

Our visit was special because this was the largest collection of quilt pieces ever displayed in Indiana.  When we entered the hall at Indiana University housing these quilt pieces, they coated the walls and floor and hung from the ceiling.  While our teammates Ashely and Naomi read names of those honored by the quilt, we had the chance to admire some of these works of art.

Some of the pieces looked professionally done.  A piece for Freddie Mercury was made with crushed black velvet and extravagant silver detailing.  Others had a more homemade feel to them and often included personal messages from friends and family.  Regardless of  the content, the sheer size and emotion put into the display was enough to remind us all of what we are continually working for in our year of service.

The visitors at the IU display were clearly moved and fascinated by the quilt.   This kind of reception ensures that the quilt will remain a moving message for years and generations of viewers to come.

Team New Mexico Make a Difference Day in Taos, NM

On October 22, National AIDS Fund Team New Mexico traveled to Taos, NM to attend the statewide AmeriCorps member launch.  The launch is a weekend long AmeriCorps conference organized by the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC).  RMYC is based in Taos, NM and mobilizes youth in environmental service projects as well as educates youth in leadership and community responsibility.  During the weekend, team building sessions and trainings were offered including CPR/First AID, “Disaster Preparedness,” and “Community Organizing.”  RYMC also hosted team building sessions on a high ropes course to enable volunteers from around the state to meet and work together.  Over twenty programs around the state attended with almost 300 AmeriCorps volunteers participating in the launch.

On October 23, Team New Mexico, with 260 other AmeriCorps volunteers from around the state took action throughout the Taos region of New Mexico and participated in 15 different community service initiatives.  Team New Mexico partnered with the San Juan County Partnership volunteers at a local senior center to paint two rooms at the facility.  San Juan County Partnership is located in Farmington, NM and works with youth, families and individuals in substance abuse prevention, awareness and education.  Other service initiatives were removal of waste at an illegal dumping site, making fleece blankets for kids in foster care, and yard cleanup at a local church.

On Saturday night, Team New Mexico also represented the National AIDS Fund at the AmeriCorps swearing in ceremony.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, there were traditional Native American dancers from the neighboring Taos Pueblo as well as a local high school slam poetry group.  The weekend provided a great learning experience for our team as well as an opportunity to work with and learn about different AmeriCorps programs around New Mexico and some of the other great work being accomplished by AmeriCorps volunteers.

Es Mejor Saber at National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

On Friday, October 15, 2010, Team New Mexico participated in “Artists at Work: A Festival of Awareness.”  The awareness campaign was sponsored by Southwest CARE Center, a Santa Fe based clinic dedicated to providing comprehensive medical care, research, education, prevention and support services to people affected by HIV/AIDS.  One of our team members Emily Knittle works at SW Care for her volunteer service.  “Artists at Work” was part of a day of events commemorating National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The event was open to the public and featured the live painting of a mural by two local artists John Santos and Guadalupe Vargas.  The mural was painted on the outside of a café at 2nd street and Lena in Santa Fe and urges everyone that passes that “es mejor saber,” (it’s better to know) and to go get tested for HIV.  The event also featured a local DJ with live hip hop and break dancing.  Team New Mexico participated by helping to spread the word about the event and to draw people in.  We also assisted by helping to set up and clean up afterward.  Southwest CARE also provided free anonymous rapid HIV testing to the public as part of the event.

DJ 13 Pieces and Harambe Movement B Boys

DJ 13 Pieces and the Harambe Movement B Boys

The “Es Mejor Saber” campaign was a great opportunity for us to come together with several groups in the community to spread awareness about HIV.  It was great to work with so many people volunteering their time to spread awareness.  The mural stands as a lasting reminder to the community that it’s better to know your HIV status and to go get yourself tested.

Team Detroit- On a mission to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Team Detroit definitely made a difference on Saturday, October 23rd by serving at Cody High School, a local public school. The event was a collaboration between the United Way of Southeastern Michigan and City Year Detroit. Tasks to completed included painting offices and classrooms, landscaping, building benches, and painting murals. Team Detroit was honored to be placed at this school, especially being that it was the hub for a previous City Year member who is currently a member of Team Detroit, Karl Hatcher. Karl gave us a tour of the school and recalled stories of his time spent serving as a Team Leader for City Year.

Though painting murals was our desired assignment, we were assigned the task of revitalizing a room for a full time volunteer who counsels and tutors the students. We spent hours priming and painting, but the time and frustration was all worth it once we saw the finished product. A room that was once red and white was transformed into a spectacular butter yellow and green space conducive for learning.

Although we will not benefit directly from the improvements that were made at Cody High School, the current students and future students that walk the halls of the school will have a better, more visually appealing environment to learn in.

All members of Team Detroit had an awesome time and look forward to working with United Way and City Year again in the near future.

Team NOLA on Make a Difference Day

On Make-A-Difference Day, Team NOLA volunteered at the Esperanza Neighborhood Farm in Harvey, LA. Esperanza is a small community garden run by the Latino Farmers’ Collective of Louisiana.

Joining us was an awesome AmeriCorps team from Playworks New Orleans. They serve in six New Orleans schools, teaching kids through games and physical activity. We got to see them in action when they recruited three neighborhood kids to help us out in the garden. We played a few games with the kids, and then we all got back to work.

The small garden had been thoroughly raided by rabbits, so our mission was to set up a fence to protect the broccoli. First we had to take pitchforks and rakes to a field full of weeds to clear a path for the fence. Next, we used a tiller machine and pickaxes to tear up the hard ground. Then we used shovels to dig a shallow trench. Finally, everything was ready, and the fence was hammered into the ground.

All day we battled weeds and spiders, ant hills and tiny lizards, soil full of rocks and seashells. It was exhausting, but by the end of the day we had succeeded in enclosing the entire garden with a fence. So now the broccoli will be kept safe from the rabbits!

“Make a Difference Day” with AmeriCorps Team Tulsa!

For Make a Difference Day, Team Tulsa volunteered our time at the annual DIVAS Downtown event. For nine years, DIVAS has been raising funds for HOPE Testing Clinic, one of our placement agencies. For 14 years, HOPE (Health Outreach Prevention Education) has been providing HIV and Hepatitis testing in their clinic and also during outreach in the community. This year, HOPE hosts both Danielle Matheny and Carolyn Acker of Team Tulsa.

Kristin, Janice, Danielle

DIVAS was filled with jaw-dropping performances from local ladies (and one gentleman) throughout the evening. The celebration began with an exclusive patron party on the outdoor patio of the Center for Creativity at Tulsa Community College’s Metro campus. Other attendees arrived shortly thereafter, and the music began. During the night, Team Tulsa oversaw a silent auction for local memorabilia and services. Rebecca Ungerman, performer and emcee for the night, presided over a live auction of trips and other valuable items between each musical number. Also, at each table, guests were invited to purchase testing supplies for HOPE.

Team Tulsa helped with basic services throughout at the night. Kacie, Paige and Kristin watched the front entrance and led people to the patron party, while Danielle registered guests for the patron party upstairs. After the patron party, the team helped with clean-up and then ventured downstairs to watch the silent auction. Danielle and Kristin helped keep guard of the wine for sale while Kacie and Paige began to spot for the live auction. Soon, all four were helping with the energetic live auction. As the festivities came to a close, all the performers came on stage for a medley of hit songs, past and present.


Overall, through admission tickets, auctions and simple donations, DIVAS raised thousands of dollars and countless testing supplies for HOPE Testing Clinic. Team Tulsa continued the tradition of helping DIVAS run smoothly and as planned. Each year continues to be more eventful and see better results than the previous year. We know that next year — DIVAS’ 10th year anniversary — will be even better!