Make a Difference Day 2011

by Whitney McKelvey, AmeriCorps member
Make A Difference Day is a national day of service held annually on the fourth Saturday of October where millions of Americans complete a day of action to help change the world. On the morning of October 22nd, over 80 AmeriCorps Members belonging to Spokane Service Team, Washington Reader Corps, Youth Build, and New Alliance worked together to better the Spokane Community. Efforts helped feed the hungry, cloth children, improve the environment and serve homeless animals. No action was too small, as every task completed helped make a difference in the life of another in the Spokane Community. Thank you to all the compassionate participants!

AmeriCorps members, staff, family and friends eagerly served at:

Liberty Park

Reforest Spokane- 25 AmeriCorps members alongside 700 other community volunteers planted 10,000 Ponderosa Pines.The Reforest Spokane project was organized by the Lands Council of Spokane. Tree planting efforts will increase areas of much needed shade, reduce traffic noise and create a more beautiful Spokane community.

Sorting Potatoes

2nd Harvest Food Bank- Distributes to a network of 250 food banks and meal centers serving in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. AmeriCorps Members took part on Make a Difference Day in bagging over 7,000 pounds of potatoes which will feed over 2,600 hungry people. 2n Harvest, along with volunteers, feeds over 40,000 hungry people region wide each week and provides 1.7 million pounds of donated food each month.

AmeriCorps Members in the Nursery

Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery- AmeriCorps Members assisted Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in sorting donated baby clothing, packaging diapers and cleaning the facility. Efforts will help continue the nursery’s mission of keeping over 4,000 kids safe and warm each year. Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is an important resource for parents to use for childcare, parent education, crisis counseling and free clothing/diapers.

Sorting Toys

Inland NW Baby-Inland Northwest Baby is a nonprofit founded by a 14 year old boy with incredible social awareness. He recognized the need that children had in the Spokane Community for necessities items, such as clothing and diapers and took action. AmeriCorps Members on Make a Difference Day helped the facility organize clothing for children and packaged diapers.

Making Dog Treats

SpokAnimal- SpokAnimal is an amazing organization dedicated to the placement, protection and health of animals in the Spokane Community. AmeriCorps Members along with their families helped bake dog treats to be sold at the SpokAnimal facility. Both AmeriCorps and SpokAnimal feel it is important to help the living creatures in the Spokane community who do not have a voice to represent themselves. Proceeds will go to help continue the mission of SpokAnimal, as they help over 700 animals a month.

YouthBuild staff, Manny Santos

Bethany Presbyterian Church-AmeriCorps Members worked together on Make a Difference Day in moving, cleaning and organizing the storage of Bethany Presbyterian Church so that new nonprofits can use their third floor for operations. Volunteers also completed various renovation tasks. The effort and work completed by these volunteers in one day would have taken the church three weeks to complete. Bethany Presbyterian Church helps build the Spokane community as it encourages individuals to demonstrate grace, service, integrity and hospitality. The facility also offers its services to youth programs, such as Crosswalk.

Cleaning Desks

Slavic Christian Academy Enrolls students from preschool to 12th grade. 11 AmeriCorps volunteers came together on Make a Difference Day to clean classes, the cafeteria, the library. Volunteers also decorated bulletin boards, painted, and picked up garbage outside.

September 11th Memorial Stair Climb

On the morning of September 11th, 2011, 31 New ESD101 AmeriCorps Members assisted 260 fire service members in the Memorial Stair Climb held at the Bank of America Building, located in downtown Spokane. Fire service members convene in high-rise buildings across the United States to climb 110 stories as a tribute to their fallen brothers.
Some used air packs or carried hoses; many in full turn-out gear; others were accompanied by rescue dogs. Each climber carried the photograph and biographical sketch of a firefighter who was lost on September 11, Memorial Stair Climb is not a race, but an opportunity to honor and remember the 343 FDNY members who selflessly gave their lives so that others might live. It was truly an honor for AmeriCorps Members to take part in such an unforgettable event.

“We will never forget that tragic day-innocent lives lost, the bravery of those who responded, and the remarkable spirit of unity and compassion that swept the country in the aftermath,” said Robert Velasco II, Acting CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service. “We are asking Americans to remember the lives of those lost, pay tribute to those who rose in service, and honor those who serve our country today by engaging in service on the 9/11 weekend.”

The Spokane stair climb was one of approximately 50 memorial stair climbing events that was held across the country.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service 2011

The Spokane Service Team and Reading Corps offered their service in several ways Monday, January 17, 2011. As they have for the past decade, the members of the SST helped setup tables in the Riverfront Mall for the service fair. The day started with donuts, coffee, tables, and camaraderie. The team also helped setup a children’s fair with and for the Reading Corps. From there they went to the INB Performing Arts Center to hear the call to service as offered by the speakers. Unlike previous years, the SST and Reading Corps members were asked to go one extra step to usher the attendants along a secondary trail for the march due to a suspicious backpack, which turned out to contain an explosive device, placed along the original route. No one was hurt, the device did not detonate, and the service fair went off without a hitch. The team closed the event by taking down the tables and chairs before heading home. A job well done!

AmeriCorps Week 2010

By Mark Altmar, AmeriCorps Supervisor

AmeriCorps Week is an annual event created to recognize the efforts of AmeriCorps members, and to raise awareness about AmeriCorps and its programs. To celebrate this year’s AmeriCorps Week, the Spokane Service team held its first ever Service Art Exhibition featuring AmeriCorps members as the artist. The Exhibition was held at the downtown Spokane Public Library during AmeriCorps Week and ran until the end of May.

On May 15th the Service Art Exhibition held its official opening. The gallery featured a diverse collection of art pieces. Sarah Hennigan of Cup of Cool Water, an outreach center for at-risk youth, had youth do a collective painting that displayed the word hope in several different languages.

The Spokane Service team contributed a large 10×25 ft. AmeriCorps sign that could be seen from anywhere in the gallery. Over ten different AmeriCorps members helped to design, build and paint the sign. It was the most prominent piece in the gallery. A true show of team effort, the piece represented the construction volunteer work that many of our members do in the community.

Other pieces by the Washington Reading Corps expressed the tutoring work done by the volunteers. One volunteer in particular, Sandy Lampe-Martin, displayed works of literature, and poetry that was published at this year’s National Service Symposium. Her poems of service reached out to the reader, ushering us to understand the importance of making reading important, not just for the individual but also for the community.

One member took art in another direction by using a more pop culture medium to express his service experience. Gary McKay, a YouthBuild member, staged a live rap performance. Heavy and pained in demeanor, Gary outlined his story in rhyme and rhythm, and told of his struggles to stabilize his life and how he could not have done it without the support of AmeriCorps and his fellow members. His was a truly thoughtful piece, one that took courage and honesty.

The gallery opening was visited by many AmeriCorps members and dotted with curious individuals from the public. The opening event could not have been as successful as it was without the guitar performance of one of our truly dedicated AmeriCorps VISTA leader, Nick Straight. The event was catered and everyone enjoyed the music and food.

In addition to viewing the art works, members were able to meet AmeriCorps members from different programs. It was an opportunity to network and share on upcoming volunteer events. The gallery opening was well received by everyone including the Spokane Public Library, which has offered to host the event next year. Making the Service Art Exhibition a likely annual AmeriCorps Week event.

Martin Luther King Day 2010

When many had a day off from work for the 2010 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the NEWESD101 had a day on and this year, as in past years, expressed their commitment to Rev. Dr. King’s legacy and dream through community service. Now becoming a tradition on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Spokane Service Team and its AmeriCorps members volunteered to help setup and take down the annual Community Resource Fair held by United Way and hosted the Washington Reading Corps’ (WRC) Children’s Resource Learning Fair. The members also attended the speeches at the INB Performing Arts Center and participated in Spokane’s downtown march.

The City of Spokane holds an annual march to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Of the many AmeriCorps members and members that assisted in hauling tables and setting up chairs for both resource fairs, most still had more than enough energy to rally at Spokane’s INB Performing Arts Center to listen to community leaders speak about their dedication to equality and justice. In attendance was the acclaimed Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins who, for his 23rd straight year in a row, gave a spirited rendition of Rev. Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The speech’s end was the start to Spokane’s largest ever Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march that began at the INB Performing Arts Center and ended at Spokane’s downtown Riverpark Square Mall.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

The mixture of good weather, powerful speakers, and a sea of marchers gave AmeriCorps members a feeling of being a part of something greater than themselves. The morning events gave each a vision of what cooperation could be like, what solidarity really looks like, and that commonality can transcend individual differences when there is a goal that reaches out to everyone, of every background, and of every faith. Even after the energy of the morning settled all the members continued to volunteer into the early evening.

Listen Now:  Flyin By

Written and performed by  our own Nick Straight

Washington Reading Corps VISTA Leader

WRC hosted its 2nd annual Children’s Learning Resource Fair on the 2nd floor of Spokane’s bus plaza. The resource fair was run and supported by individuals from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Vista, Spokane Service Team, WRC, Spokane School District #81, and SNAP. AmeriCorps provided a satellite infant clothing bank open to the public, a tile painting workshop sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, and ran a game and information booth for children and
parents. Making the fair that much more exceptional, Nick Straight (Vista Leader) and Kevin Schibel held a free concert. The live music created a backdrop to a truly successful fair. The Children’s Learning Resource Fair doubled its turn out from last year and distributed nearly 400 books that day.

“The AmeriCorps members that joined together on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, all were grateful to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through their service efforts, presence and support at the Community Resource Fair, INB Performing Arts Center, and Children’s Learning Resource Fair. As members of AmeriCorps team our service and goals change regularly, and it is easy to forget the larger struggle we are a part of, the dreams we strive to bring to reality, the ideas we want to foster and often do not know how or where to start. If anything, Martin Luther King Jr. Day gives us an opportunity to try, as co-creators, to better our world.” – Daniel Ramos III, AmeriCorps Member

September 11, 2009 – A New Day for Service By Pearl Shamara, AmeriCorps member


President Obama commemorated September 11th as a National Day of Service for Americans to make a positive difference in their communities; to remember the lives of those lost and injured; and to pay tribute to those who rose in service following the attacks. This is an opportunity to serve in honor of the heroes of that day. It is a national call to service.

  The call was answered in Spokane with over 65 AmeriCorps members joining in service. Spokane Service Team AmeriCorps members hosted projects with Washington Reading Corps, YouthBuild and Spokane Public Schools. Members set out to make a difference in our community with projects including Miriam’s House Women’s Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank, Teen Challenge, Habitat for Humanity and SpokAnimal.

The morning started with welcome and the history of September 11th. The day concluded with a reflection and opportunities for sharing food and stories. In between, there were two hours for service projects. Two hours is a relatively small period of time, but there was nothing small about the impact members made on the community.

  Members went to Miriam’s Women’s Shelter and completed yard work, cleaned window wells, and trimmed trees. They brought a fresh new look to the home and completed projects that would have taken weeks for the maintenance staff. Ten members sorted food at the 2nd Harvest food bank. This service will help countless numbers of families as 2nd Harvest distributes food to local food banks throughout the region. Other members sorted and organized for charity thrift stores including Teen Challenge and Habitat for Humanity. It was a powerful experience to serve alongside the community volunteers who make these projects possible.

The AmeriCorps training center was transformed from a construction classroom to an active kitchen where participants baked dog biscuits from scratch to give to our fluffy friends at SpokAnimal, and a sewing center where participants made baby bibs to put in Read-to-me gift bags distributed to low-income families through local hospitals. Still other participants  signed up for Project in2books where volunteers make a year-long commitment to be a reading mentor to a child in need. Much was accomplished in this first annual day of service. We can hardly wait for next year.