MLK Day 2013



On January 21st, 2013 over 1,000 community members marched for justice, marched for peace, and marched in honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. march

Over 60 Spokane Service Team and YouthBuild members celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by volunteering to set-up and host a resource fair and children’s fair after the peaceful march at the River Park Square. Children of all ages enjoyed making crafts, such as puzzle piece aliens, paper love bugs, and peaceIMG_5699 necklaces.

The Children’s fair also had a table that gave away over 400 books to help encourage parents and their children to spend more time reading at home together. AmeriCorps also helped recruit over 40 new community volunteers by decorating place mats for Meals on Wheels by children participants of the children’s fair.

The day was full of interesting people, celebrating diversity and appreciating a man’s dream that continues to inspire positive acts today. Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped.

“The time is always right to do what is right”- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


Make a Difference Day 2012

Forty-five AmeriCorps members and community volunteers ventured into the Spokane community to participate in Make a Difference Day. Volunteers at 2nd Harvest helped sort 12,191 lbs of potatoes, feeding 4,063 hungry people. Volunteers also helped plant trees at Turnbull and at Dishman’s Hill in honor of National Wildlife
Refuge Week. Youth of Spokane learned the importance of volunteering from AmeriCorps members and Staff as they baked dog biscuits for SpokAnimal.

Make a Difference Day is a national movement to help gain awareness, build community and provoke meaningful relfection.

Other projects included, coaching, cooking meals for Crosswalk and helping clean a local school. YouthBuild students also helped Rebuilding Together Spokane, by painting window trim and replacing bedroom doors for a grandmother and her three grandchildren.

Volunteers reflected about the day’s experience over a taco bar at Riverside and helped decorate Thanksgiving Day cards for Meals on Wheels to distribute to patrons. Thank you to all those who participated.

September 11th, 2012: National Day of Service and Rememberance

On September 11th, 2012 students of the YouthBuild Spokane lead a day of volunteerism in remembrance for the victims of the 9/11 attacks in partnership with Spokane Service Team AmeriCorps. Participants recognized the sacrifice and service for those serving in the military, the police force and firefighters in the Spokane community.

The event was made possible through a grant from the Washington Commission for National and Community Service and Director Debbie Schuffenhauer participated in the day of volunteerism and remembrance. Forty nine participants including AmeriCorps members, community volunteers and NEWESD staff joined the international nonprofit movement dedicating September 11th as a day of positive action.

The morning began at the Combat Vet Riders’ Outreach center with speaker Andy Hail, Valley Deputy Fire Chief. Deputy Hail shared about the important lessons learned from the 9/11 attacks and shared how better communication procedures are in action today. He also spoke about the difference NEWESD made for his son who is an alumnae of both
YouthBuild and AmeriCorps Participants completed community service projects at various sites: 2nd Harvest, Catholic Charities, Ronald McDonald House of Charities, SpokAnimal and St. Joseph’s Family center.

Then participants enjoyed pizza at Liberty Park, where volunteers reflected about their experiences and had a moment to share their “I Will” statements. Schuffenhauer promised, “I will continue to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, as well as the first responders by donating blood”.

The celebration included recognition for YouthBuild participants, Dylan McCauley and Stephon Forte, who received their GEDs wearing a graduation gown/cap with family and friends there to watch with pride.

Below are other Commitments of “I Will” wrote on the wall by participants…

“Help local veterans with their needs/fundraisers”-CK
“Show respect to firefights by shaking their hands”-SG
“Appreciate people”-DC
“Stop and help when I see someone in need” -DB
“Keep my students safe by protecting their dignity and welcoming them with a smile everyday”-AR

“Tell my grandson about 9/11 and the people who were lost”-TW
“Make the world a better place”-KS
“Do more good deeds”-LK
“Thank every service person I meet for their sacrifice”-D
“Donate to charity”-ST
“Remember our heroes and serve”-ME

A special thank you to Cohort 9 and their teacher Jessica Cross for taking the time to plan September 11th Day of Remembrance. The day was full of thought provoking information, meaningful volunteer work and great company among AmeriCorps members, ESD 101 staff and members of the Spokane Community. The victims of the 9/11 attacks were remembered well and inspired “I will” statements that will continue positive action.

Article written by AmeriCorps member, Whitney McKelvey

A video of the event is available online at:

Here come the graduates!

YouthBuild participants pictured clockwise are Justin Roberson, Xavier Jones, Dylan Campbell and Robert (Bert) Holden who received a GED, and Brittanee Freeland, who earned a high school diploma. Also pictured in center of photo is Jessica Cross, NEWESD 101 education case manager. Not pictured: YouthBuild graduate Austin Chastain.

Six members of NEWESD 101’s YouthBuild Spokane were acknowledged at a celebration breakfast October 28 for achieving important educational milestones.
Recognized for earning a GED were Justin Roberson, Xavier Jones, Dylan Campbell and Robert Holden. Brittanee Freeland was recognized for meeting requirements for a high school diploma.
Justin is an aspiring underwater welder with plans to attend Spokane Community College after completing YouthBuild. Xavier would like to join the Army National Guard. Afterwards, he is interested in going to college or doing an apprenticeship. Dylan is considering careers in long- haul truck driving and culinary arts.
Robert would like to train for a career as a technician engineer or mechanic. In the meantime, he is pursuing an apprenticeship as a heavy equipment operator. Brittanee is attending a college preparation course through the Community Colleges of Spokane and plans to transition to post-secondary education once her term is complete.
Austin Chastain, who also earned a GED, will be attending Spokane Community College and transferring to Eastern Washington University to obtain degrees in English and philosophy while training as a high school teacher. Eventually, he would like to work as a college professor.
In YouthBuild, young adults who left high school are given a second chance in the classroom, while also training for a career in the construction industry. Since YouthBuild began in 2009, 96 percent of program graduates have earned a high school diploma or GED. Twenty-eight percent have gone to college and 40 percent entered full-time employment in the non-profit or commercial construction sectors.
Participants also receive an opportunity to co-enroll in AmeriCorps. So far, 44 YouthBuild members have completed over 13,000 hours of community service through AmeriCorps, earning more than $51,700 for current or future post-secondary education expenses.
Jessica Cross was recently hired to work with YouthBuild members as an education case manager. Since she began this past August, she has already helped three students earn a high school diploma. Another nine have completed their GED.
“Jessica’s dedication has made a positive difference for students and the YouthBuild program,” said Manda Edwards, program manager. ”She works with participants to improve literacy and numeracy skills while laying a foundation for them to earn a diploma or GED. She also helps every member develop a long-term education plan.”
YouthBuild participants spend half of each day in the classroom, completing credit toward their high school diplomas or GEDs, and the other half on construction job sites. Students successfully completing a six-month term receive an AmeriCorps educational award of $1,125.
YouthBuild members are currently constructing a new home at 2119 West Mallon in Spokane. Once complete, the City of Spokane will sell the home to a low-income family and/or first-time home buyer. Most recently, the YouthBuild team completed a similar home in the Spokane Valley for First Story, a Northwest non-profit.
Individuals and families interested in learning more about YouthBuild Spokane may attend an informational session at 2424 East Riverside Avenue on November 17 or November 30 at 3 p.m. The next cohort of YouthBuild will begin in December. (A.H.)

Building a Home; Building a Dream

Brianna Solis, a mother of two, wiped a tear from her eye as she unlocked the door to her new home in the community of Covey Glenn. “I keep thinking that one day I will wake up and it will all be a dream” said Solis. But, it’s actually a dream come true.
When First Story, a Northwest non-profit, dedicated a new Spokane Valley home in late September, it did more than provide a beautiful, affordable home to a deserving family. Indeed, the dedication ceremony also showcased the talent of local youth, members of NEWESD101’s AmeriCorps YouthBuild program, who built the house.

Youth in the NEWESD program have long been involved in the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing in the Spokane area. This, however, was the first constructed in partnership with First Story, a non-profit based in Bend, Ore. Students, under the supervision of trained professionals, built the home from the ground up. The home is located in the Covey Glen community near Barker Road.

YouthBuild students learned many new skills while building this home and appreciated the opportunity to be part of such a valuable mission. “Our partnership with YouthBuild allows us to transform the lives of at-risk young adults,” said Shon Rae, executive director of First Story, who traveled to the dedication from Bend. “The trainees gain a valuable education, job training and leadership skills while helping a family right here in need in the Spokane Valley.”

“I have learned more while building this house than any other job. I learned about carpeting, roofing, caulking, tiling and many other skills. But, what will be my most prized memory is the memory of today; the day that we get to give this house to Brianna Solis and her family.”
– YouthBuild Member, Marissa Dire

First Story serves families that don’t qualify for government-assisted housing, but still lack the resources to own their own home. The organization is building six homes this year in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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.

YouthBuild Candidates Enrolled Quarterly

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Eligibility Requirements:
*Ages 18-24
*Released from high school
*Interested in construction
*Committed to earning a diploma or GED

Call Tim O’Halloran for an application at 340-7822

YouthBuild Spring Quarter

YouthBuild engages low-income young adults ages 18-24, in earning a diploma or GED while gaining paid experience in construction. YouthBuild members serve their communities by building affordable housing and transforming their lives and roles in society.

“I love YouthBuild. I jump up at 5:00 every morning and hop on the bus to get here. I will be the first person in my family to get an education. I love the people and the staff. This is more than my second home – it is really my first home.” – Dwayne Tolbert, YouthBuild Pioneer

Call Christy Kunstmann or Kari Chapman at ESD101 Riverside Campus for an application at 535-1613

Making a Difference – by Austin Odell, YouthBuild AmeriCorps

austin-madd Make a Difference Day was nothing new for the AmeriCorps members of NEWESD 101. The team has hosted the community service event each October for the past four years. Whether members are enrolled in the Spokane Service Team, Washington Reading Corps, YouthBuild, or Revitalization, all AmeriCorps members are engaged in service.

This event was special because of community members who joined the more than 60 volunteers at the AmeriCorps training center on Saturday morning. For those who had never heard of it or for that matter even done charity work, it would be two hours they wouldn’t soon forget.

After a quick orientation everyone was off in groups going to Habitat for Humanity, SpokAnimal, RiverWalk Apartments, Liberty and Underhill Park, Sunset Elementary, and the Bus Plaza.

At the RiverWalk Apartments the dated children’s playground was torn down to make room for a new set. Everyone was tearing into the ground with shovels and pickaxes with some waiting in line to use the jackhammer.

The Washington Reading Corps team at the Plaza had great environmental education displays on global warming, composting, bio-diesel, recycling and a book drive for the kids.

At Sunset Elementary winter coats were provided to many families. Walking up to the building I saw kids actually dancing to the car because they were so happy to get a winter coat. Over at Habitat for Humanity they sorted supplies to make room for more so that many more homes could be built.

Walking the trail that connected Liberty Park and Underhill Park I realized that the group that was picking up the garbage there did a great job; there was not one remaining piece that I could find.

Back at the AmeriCorps training center the youngest of the volunteers were hard at work making dog biscuits for SpokAnimal with decorated jars for the biscuits. They even painted a Make a Difference Day mural depicting what all the other groups were doing that day.

Being the photographer, I got the chance to go to each site and see and feel the impact that every single person made. Afterwards each group met back at the training center for a delicious lunch and everyone shared stories of what they did and looking around you could see a sense of accomplishment on every face.

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.