Second Year Reflection

July 19, 2018

This is my second year serving as an AmeriCorps member and I will cherish this experience for the rest of my life. Before getting the position my first year I knew nothing about AmeriCorps and it was just a name. Now looking back two years later I have realized that it was one of the best decisions I have made for myself. For those of you who don´t know, members commit their time to addressing critical community needs such as increasing academic achievement, tutoring and mentoring both youth and adults, fighting poverty, and more. The reward of experiencing the impact we have on our learners is such an amazing feeling that sometimes can´t be described. I have learned and grown so much as a person because of my position as a member and I have met some amazing people along the way. I have learned time management, financial budgeting, how to spice up a resume, effective tools to tutoring students, discovered my professional strengths, and realized how ambitious I can l be. Life, or should I say being an adult is hard work. What gives us the strength to continue when we are tired? Sometimes an inspirational idea or even your next job decision can help us renew ourselves and be filled with strength to fulfill our life´s purpose. The root of an idea is the idea that our lives are meaningful. Inspiration is knowing that what I do matters to my students, myself, and the world. When you have the feeling that your actions are meaningful, you will become filled with strength and vigor to fulfill your purpose. There are two types of dreams: the ones we have when we are asleep and the ones we have when we are awake. What is the connection? Both kinds of dreams are rooted from the desires we hold deep inside. Those of us that dare to put our dreams on paper are showing the courage and faith that their dreams will come true. I say all of this to say: use your AmeriCorps experience as a stepping stone and don´t let your dreams and goals stop here. Push yourself to reach your full potential and never give up.

 

 

Sincerely,

Brittney Arrington

 

Americorps Experience as a Mother

July 11, 2018

My name is Iffat, and I have the extreme pleasure of working with the AmeriCorps NCLC (North Carolina Literacy Corps) team, through my Community Service career. Over all, I can say it’s been inspiring. I am also a mom to an amazing 6-year-old little girl who often makes me wonder why I deserve to have her in my life. She is a package of happiness.

Serving as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator gives me an opportunity to experience how motherhood makes me a better employee and a better person. I have had the chance to develop community relations with moms enrolled in parenting training programs. While the mothers were in training, we provided activities to engage their children and help them to develop their reading and character building skills. Each week we would have an organized routine starting with dinner before venturing out to the park and finishing up with a classroom activity. Personally, I noticed that my motherly instincts were always there to help me. I cared about whether the kids and their clothes were appropriate for the weather outside and if they had water bottles and snacks available. I felt pride in knowing that each night all of the kids went back to their homes safe and happy.

On many occasions, I felt that being mom helped me to be cautious and mindful of others’ safety, especially kids. During the “Prevent Child Abuse” event at the FFRC, one of the assigned volunteers in the gaming section had set up cornhole platforms right in the middle of the walking area. It was likely that a kid or even an adult could get hurt due to platforms being in the way. I felt the possible danger and let the volunteer know. She appreciated my concern toward the safety of the people and moved the boards.

Initially, I began working for AmeriCorps as a way to transition back into the office and get experience before finishing my degree in communications. But once I settled into a routine, my perspective changed. During the National Literacy Action Week, it allowed me the opportunity to reflect on the topic, “School to Prison Pipeline.” Being a mom has helped me to communicate with middle and high school kids very easily and effectively. I incorporated simple but practical examples and talked with them about why it is important for them to finish school and use education as a way to get a better life.

My experience at AmeriCorps is different because I had the opportunity to learn about many important topics through webinars. I also gained practical experience for recruiting, training and placing volunteers, managing events, developing and implementing literacy plans and directly working in the non-profit sector. I had the opportunity to get my Non-Profit Management certificate which is a great initiative by the Scale team. While working with AmeriCorps, I have had experiences that helped me gain insight on which direction I’d like to steer my career path.  

My role at FFRC and my knowledge has helped me to understand more about how a non-profit functions. I have realized that programs and development at AmeriCorps are interconnected and after gaining this experience, I have developed a real interest in non-profit development. After my service, I hope to find a job in the non-profit sector and intend to work toward fundraising, social media and grant writing.

I would definitely recommend serving with AmeriCorps to everybody and especially moms who want to contribute to the community or their families. I would say do not be afraid because being a mom can actually make you better at doing the job. I grew during my time at AmeriCorps. It helped me to gain the strength and courage needed to be part of a mainstream career. I am totally prepared and ready to start my career as a full-time employee and a mom.

Why Recognize Volunteers and Students?

June 13, 2018

As we know, “all humans need to be recognized in a meaningful way for their efforts” (Michigan State University 2012).  Recognition not only fosters self-esteem, but builds confidence in all individuals. It is a critical component of volunteer retention, as well as a motivator for students to thrive. Volunteers who feel appreciated will: positively connect to their programs or organizations of choice, continue support and involvement beyond one year, and become  recruiters for other volunteers that will serve.

Kiana Parker, Tutor

Also, received Special Recognition for serving the most volunteer time this year with the amount of 39.33 hours. She plans to come back next year.

 

Throughout the service term, volunteers and students were recognized by the literacy coordinator  when communicating positive words of affirmation for exhibiting hard work (students/tutors), going the extra mile (students/tutor), and just being professional or caring about the students (tutors).  On May 23, 2018, volunteers and students were formally recognized for their efforts during the year with a celebration and time to fellowship with each other. Volunteers received a framed poem entitled “A Tribute to Volunteers,” along with a certificate of recognition. Students also received various types of certificates of recognition for the hours engaged in the tutorial program, GYSD, or just for assisting the program in any capacity.

 

                            

PreK-10th grade students being recognized.                                  Madison Foster, Kindergarten begin recognized.

 

Although this was a small tribute to recognize both stakeholders, feedback from students and tutors indicated that the recognition was appreciated. We must remember the importance of recognition, no matter how small to: a.increase success of students served, b. increase commitment of the volunteers who serve, and c. increase the success of the program that provides the service.

 

Never forget the Power of a simple thank you, in oral or written form.

 

It has been an honor to serve the students and families at the Franklin County Boys & Girls Club.

 

Educationally,

 

Amiee Richardson, MSA

How AmeriCorps is Making Me More Employable

June 1, 2018

Briana serves at SCALE/America Reads in Chapel Hill, NC, working to equip college students to address the literacy needs of our country.

 

 

I initially joined AmeriCorps because I thought it would just look good on my resume since it was a national organization, but I didn’t realize how many skills I would learn from AmeriCorps that would actually benefit me in the workplace. One of the biggest skills that I learned throughout this service year is teamwork. I’ve always been a bit bossy and I like to do things on my own, but in AmeriCorps I worked with other members very frequently during service days and other projects and I’ve come to enjoy sharing tasks and responsibilities. Teamwork seems like a very obvious skill that anyone could possess, but there is a difference in good and bad teamwork and AmeriCorps taught me to be a great team member. I also learned the skill of self-management this year. This is a big one, considering I’m a college student who likes to procrastinate. As an AmeriCorps member, there are certain deadlines that I have to meet and we are in charge of our own projects; we don’t have anyone really reminding us to keep on top of our work, so I liked the freedom that I had, but I also liked that I was forced to manage my time and energy better. The last major skill I gained from AmeriCorps is planning and organizing. I could not believe how many things I’ve planned in just the 6 months I’ve been in AmeriCorps. I’ve done lesson plans for my elementary school students, I’ve helped organize several service days, and I’ve helped organize meetings. This is a fantastic skill to learn because so many jobs require this kind of experience such as careers in business or education. I’ve had quite a few jobs throughout high school and college, but none of those experiences have taught me as much as my service time with AmeriCorps. I feel much more mature and professional now that I have been exposed to new skills and opportunities, plus it really does look amazing on your resume. Become an AmeriCorps member, you will not regret it!

 

Service Year Reflection

May 21, 2018

What I’ve Gained in my Service Year

 

Chynna serves at the Helps Education Fund in Raleigh, NC. The Helps Education Fund connects research with practice and engages teachers, parents, and volunteers to improve student learning.

 

I first learned about North Carolina Literacy Corps and AmeriCorps through the founder of Helps Education Fund. I was in a panic, for a lack of better words, because of my impending graduation from NC State. I was not ready for graduate school yet. I was still unsure of exactly what I wanted to do. A service year seemed like the perfect fit for a gap year between undergraduate and graduate school.

 

Last August, I began my service year a bit overwhelmed. I was faced with financial stress, learning a new position and attempting to get my bearings post grad. Looking back from that time so long ago, I can reflect on what I’ve gained since when I first began my service year.

 

  • Time Management: I cannot emphasize how important learning how to manage your time will be in your service year. During your service year you have to keep up with your work responsibilities (which can be a lot day to day!), a possible part time job, self care and a social life!
  • Professional Development: NCLC gives us access to a lot of webinars. We also attended Let’s Talk Racism Conference. We were able to engage in discussions about the school to prison pipeline, importance of PTAs and diversity in the school system.
  • A Sense of Purpose: I cannot put into my words how seeing growth in my students has impacted me. I work with over a hundred students and the amount of growth they’ve made in their reading is amazing! Knowing that I helped facilitate their academic growth is so rewarding.
  • Additional Skills: I hated public speaking in college. I dreaded class presentations. Now, I do volunteer and teacher trainings all the time. I had never worked with lots of people, now I can problem solve and try to make the best of any situation. I have improved my communication- whether that be with students, peers or supervisors.

 

This year has been a valuable experience. I would recommend doing a service year to anyone that is unsure of what their next step might be. I am confident that my experience this year only made me a better candidate for graduate school and any future jobs. I can’t wait to see where life after AmeriCorps takes me!

 

 

 

The Queen In Me

May 10, 2018

The Queen in Me Girls Group Career Day

 

Sumaya is a full-time member serving with Communities in Schools of Durham. This non-profit organization works to reduce drop out rates of at-risk youth by providing them with the tools to be academically successful.

 

On May 7th Sumaya hosted a Career day for her girls group (The Queen In Me) at Ek Powe elementary. The event consisted of 9 presentations by 17 girls and 2 boys between the ages of 8 and 11. Each girl did research on a career and were then broken up into groups to make posters to present in front of our other after-school students and a career panel. Following poster presentations, a career panel of 7 professionals spoke about their careers, job duties, educational background, salary range, etc.

 

              

 

 

                  

Global Youth Service Day 2018 (GYSD)

April 30, 2018

Joy Wahnefried serves at Community Empowerment Fund where she partners with learners to improve their financial literacy and works to develop and improve CEF’s financial literacy curriculum.  She leads the partnership between CEF and Families Moving Forward.

 

From Scraps to Smiles

 

 

“So many books and bookmarks!” that was my first thought when I walked into the room.  The first thing I saw was a table that was filled with free books and a bucket full of bookmarks people had made and exchanged for some of those free books.

I had been a little apprehensive about GYSD. I don’t often work with children in my role. Our site focuses on financial literacy and all of the learners I work with are adults with children of their own. So unlike many of my Literacy Corps colleagues I don’t have much one-on-one interaction with children. So it was with some trepidation that I headed into the room to help run this service project. Soon I was watching a little girl make a bookmark with her father that she wanted to make sure was, “sparkly and pretty”. This child was barely able to reach over the table when she knelt on the chair make book marks for other kids. It was amazing to see how one by one each person made a bookmark out of scraps, that would have otherwise been thrown away, into a bookmark they thought would make someone else happy and put it gently into the big bucket with a huge smile on their face. The smiles just got bigger when they saw the books that they would be able to take home with them to read and enjoy for a very long time.

In the midst of seeing all of those smiling faces I was struck by how many people and organizations worked to make those happen.  The Triangle area NC Literacy Corps was lucky enough to partner with three amazing non-profits in the area for our even. The first was the Scrap Exchange who let us participate and add to the Earth Day DIY event. The Scrap Exchange is an amazing local non-profit that specializes in helping create beautiful things out of what otherwise windup in the landfill would. They have been teaching creative literacy to the Durham community for over 25 years. We were so lucky to be able to partner with this organization who allowed our GYSD event to reach many more people that we could have hoped.

The next organization we were able to partner with was Book Harvest who is another wonderful non-profit in the Triangle area. Book Harvest’s Mission is to provide every child with books they want to read. They were so generous and donated many books to us to give out to the kids that came to make bookmarks. But the organization that is closest to my heart that we got to partner with is Families Moving Forward. Families Moving Forward is Durham’s largest family homeless shelter. I go there every Thursday to meet with learners there to work on financial literacy. I have gotten to know these families. I’ve celebrated with them as credit scores have gone up and lamented with them when they hit frustrating barriers that have slowed them down in their goals to get jobs and housing. In my months serving at Community Empowerment Fund I have grown to love these people.

So it was especially meaningful to me to see all these people who did not know these families making bookmarks for the kids that live at Families Moving Forward.  It was even more rewarding knowing I would get to give away these bookmarks and five boxes of books to the families I work with. Seeing their faces light up when I told them they got to keep these books was amazing to me. Normally I’m telling kids that they cannot keep the toys CEF has for them to play with when they are meeting with us so this was a delightful change. I’m so grateful for the many people who made that moment possible. It was amazing to see how many smiles were formed by using scraps of paper, ribbon, and stickers.

D.E.A.R

April 13, 2018

Drop Everything and Read Day

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” –Lemony Snicket

“Rebekah King is a full-time AmeriCorps member serving at Reading Connections. She supports Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language learners in the Guilford County area.”

Since I was a child, the love of learning and reading was instilled in me by my parents who took me to the library as much as possible. This was not always just for my benefit, as I grew up in a household that shared a love of reading. It seemed about twice a week we would drive down to our local library, returning what seemed to be 10 books per person just to leave with what seemed to be more. As a rule of thumb, even today, I keep at least on book on my person in case there is an emergency situation which calls for a paperback.

Drop Everything and Read Day was created so that all families could come together to enjoy the wonders of a good book as well as much needed family time. D.E.A.R Day takes place every year on April 12th in honor of the children’s author, Beverly Clearly. She wrote titles such as, “Ramona Quimby, Age 8”, “Dear Mr. Henshaw”, and “Socks”. Her children’s books have reached a wide audience and have changed many people’s lives for the better, and still continues to do so today.

Reading to your children is vital to their personal growth and development for several reasons. It not only encourages a thirst for knowledge, but it sets children up for success later on in their lives. It sets them up for success because it helps prepare younger children for school, it develops their language skills, and an exposure to reading will exercise a child’s brain. Not only does reading with your child do what was stated above, it also encourages creativity and could foster a love of books that helps them become the next Beverly Clearly. This can all be done by starting to read with your child just thirty minutes a day!

Even though Drop Everything and Read Day has officially ended, that does not mean that you still can’t drop everything and read. Every book offers its own unique journey, so go out and live a thousand of those adventures!

AmeriCorps Week

March 16, 2018

Amber Beal serves at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County as the Recruitment and Awareness Coordinator, maintaining lasting relationships between volunteers and the organization and community.

Americorps week is a week designated to show appreciation, support and visibility to those who wear the “A”. It is a nationally recognizable symbol that is worn by strong individuals of all ages who have made the decision to devote their time to serving others.  Americorps represents those who are 18 years old to 99 years old and their accomplishments in their communities.

Service areas include Education, homelessness, refugee settlement, disaster relief and environment and more with both direct and indirect service opportunities which vary by program and location.

As a 3rd year Americorps member I have had a broad range of service responsibilities. My first experience with Americorps was with FEMA Corps where for 10 months I worked on flood mitigation and environmental cleanup after the Colorado flood damage of 2013. It was a mixture of both office and outside labor. I was able to stay in a beautiful city and work alongside community members helping them mitigate and restore their homes and land right out of undergrad.

Currently, I am a NC Literacy Corps member serving at The Literacy Council of Buncombe County where I manage and recruit volunteers and promote the importance of early literacy. Prior to this service year I was in Project MARS which focused on school based mentoring and academic success in WNC elementary and middle schools. Through my two most recent service experiences I have been able to explore what kind of career I wish to pursue post Americorps and how to approach and obtain a career position.

All three of my service experiences allowed me to work with different people in other communities as well as serve in a local position where I can directly give back to the community that gave me my education.

No matter what capacity you serve in or when you served, Americorps remains a strong support system with post service opportunities that place motivated and passionate individuals in the workplace. A year as a service member is challenging but the reward is knowing you’ve touched those who can or aren’t able to say Thank You and looking back on your service with pride.

 

World Day of Social Justice

March 13, 2018

Bria Yates and I am a Senior Biological and Biomedical Science major, Chemistry minor with a concentration in pre-med. She currently serves as the America Reads coordinator at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). She organizes 100 tutors and divide them among the six Durham Public Schools being serve.

This month I decided to write a blog about World Day of Social Justice (WDSJ). WDSJ is a day recognizing the need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment. This issue spoke to me because I am aware of the Virtual Justice Project we have here on NCCU’s campus. The Virtual Justice Project is the first of its kind. Since 2010 the law school on our campus has been striving to keep ahead of the game when it comes to Virtual Legal Education. Because of their dedication to be in the forefront, NCCU’s Law School has launched the Virtual Justice Project. The Virtual Justice Project is an innovation in legal education and technology. This Project was pioneered to address the under representation of African American lawyers and a lack of access to justice for low income and marginalized communities (NCCU School of Law). This Program serves as the prototype for other programs to begin at other Law Schools.

Just about every Wednesday during the school year North Carolina Central University provides a seminar on a variety of topics. These seminars are free and open to the public. They even provide a way for people who are not in the area to call in and participate in these talks remotely. The event I decided to attend for World Day of Social Justice was Power of Attorney and Wills Clinic Part I. This was a lively informational session on Power of Attorney and why everyone needs one. Attorney Bill Moore discussed advanced planning for Durable and Health Care Powers of Attorney as well as Living Wills and the benefits of preparing them. Some Highlights from Bill Moore’s talk was that the person you assigned Power of Attorney can have limited power. I didn’t know you could have them in place for a period of time or restrict what they had control of. This talk helped me to better understand the use of the Power of Attorney and why we should all consider having one in place before it’s too late.

In conclusion, NCCU’s School of Law’s Virtual Justice Project has for the last seven years filled access-to-justice gaps by providing virtual services organizations with low-income community members who have a need for legal services. Lawyers and clients work together remotely using high definition conferencing and telepresence. The system provides a virtual community forum space and pre-law classes for students planning to attend law school.
If you are interested in seeing what NCCU’s Virtual Justice Project is about, I have provided a list of upcoming events below for your convenience. For more information on how to be involved please contact virtualjusticeproject@nccu.edu or call

919-530-6601.