A Day in the Life of an AmeriCorps Member: Jay Orth, Student Teacher

jay orth

After hitting the snooze button too many times to count, I roll out of bed well before the sun comes up. I get all my last minute lesson plans in order before jumping in the shower, putting on my teacher clothes, and rushing out of the door with a much needed cup of coffee.

Arriving at Shadle Park High School around 7:30 AM, I greet students walking down the halls while trying to balance all of the things I have in my arms (books, papers, my lunch, my coffee, etc.).

Class starts promptly at 8AM. Luckily, I have first period prep most days so I have a little extra time to get my life in order before the students come in. My first two classes of the day are Geometry.

The next period is an Algebra 2 class where I serve more of an instructional assistant type role, working with students one on one. I then have a 30 minute lunch before teaching two periods of algebra 1.

At the sound of the bell at 2:30 PM, students are quickly rushing out of the classroom to catch the bus or get to their after school activities. I am then off to one of the various after school programs.

Some days I head over to Shaw Middle School to help with an after-school ELL program. Other days, I am staying after school assisting students individually with math. Once a month, I meet with college-bound seniors serving as a mentor.

If none of these after school activities are happening, then I am debriefing with teachers about my lessons or am planning for the next day. I get home between 3:30 and 5 depending on the day. I scarf down some dinner and get started on my homework from Gonzaga University or begin working on new lesson plans. Before I know it, I am back in bed waiting to hit the snooze button once again.

Day in the Life of an AmeriCorps Member: Ashley Karsh

Welcome to two busy days in the life of AmeriCorps member Ashley Karsh! She is a full-time member at the West Valley Outdoor Learning Center and gets to teach gradeschool children about wildlife and ecosystems! Thank you for your service Ashley!
Day of my life 1
Day of my life 2

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:


“In corporate giving, I frequently tour sites and watch people work. Today I wanted to serve”.-Nicole Trimble, Washington State Commission Chair


On May 10th 2012 the Washington State Commission for National and Community Service held their spring meeting in Spokane. The visit was unique, as the commissioners did not only come to listen to a presentation or to give speeches. Instead they rolled up their sleeves and served alongside the AmeriCorps members,
as they volunteered at the 2115 & 2116 West Mallon work sites. Together they painted a garage, tiled a backsplash and shoveled a virtual mountain of soil. Most importantly, these Washington leaders spent time talking with AmeriCorps members, learning about real needs and personal goals.

AmeriCorps Week

Members and alumni are recognized for their extraordinary commitment to serving as AmeriCorps each year during AmeriCorps Week. Washington Reading Corps, Spokane Service Team and YouthBuild participated in various activities during the week to highlight the positive impact AmeriCorps makes across our nation every day. Members and alumni were able to connect and network through volunteer projects. This year, AmeriCorps Week took place from Saturday, March 10th through Sunday, March 18th, 2012.

A big thank you to local businesses, Froyo Earth, Dutch Bros, and Garland Movie Theater for donating special deals to help express community’ appreciation to AmeriCorps members. As part of the nationwide effort, Spokane AmeriCorps members and alum work to positively impact critical problems in the community.

Catholic Charities AmeriCorps Week began successfully as volunteers joined forces on Saturday, March 10th to help clean, rake and organize the children’s play area at St. Margaret’s Women’s Shelter. Bags of leaves and garbage were removed from the yard, leaving the play area safe, clean and ready for memories to be made.

KSPS Membership Drive
Sunday, March 11th members from various programs represented AmeriCorps during a televised KSPS membership drive. Volunteers answered pledge phone calls during program specials, taking donations totaling over $8,000 dollars for local public television.

SpokAnimal Dog Treats Union Gospel Mission Cookies Volunteers gathered Tuesday, March 13th to bake dog treats. The homemade dog treats are donated in decorated jars to SpokAnimal as a fundraiser for the shelter. For the event AmeriCorps members also decorated bags and made cookies, which were donated to Union Gospel Mission Men’s shelter.

Red Cross AmeriCorps members volunteered with the Red Cross to promote fire safety in a low income neighborhood in Spokane on Wednesday, March 14th. Volunteers went door to door distributing information and talking to neighbors about key steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire. In Spokane, house fires are the leading cause of disaster, affecting hundreds of families every year.

2-Harvest Help the Hungry Sort Night Onions, onions and more onions! AmeriCorps volunteers gathered at 2-Harvest to help sort over 20,000 lbs of onions to be distributed to food shelters in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Efforts will help contribute to feeding 6,000 hungry people in the local community.

Spokane Service Symposium On Friday, March 16th, AmeriCorps members serving in the Spokane community came together to reflect on challenges and successes of the 2011-2012 term. Those who attended enjoyed hearing an inspirational speech by Bill Basl, the Executive Director of the Washington Commission on National and Community Service, who encouraged each member to thank the person who was responsible for their joining AmeriCorps. During the symposium individuals presented creative works of art to show self-growth while serving as AmeriCorps members. Individuals painted, made PowerPoint presentations, wrote a rap song and even created a beautiful banner.

Spokane Saint Patrick’s Day Parade On Saturday, March 17th as part of AmeriCorps Week the Spokane Service Team, Washington Reading Corps and YouthBuild walked in the Annual Spokane St. Patrick’s Day Parade to raise awareness for AmeriCorps. They proudly carried the AmeriCorps banner and a giant Irish Laidly Worm, which flew and swooped to the delight of children watching the parade. Don Young followed us in his convertible with giant AmeriCorps A’s on both sides. We had over 50 people marching with us including children and spouses of AmeriCorps members and their dogs. The community had a great turnout filling the streets along the parade route.

A big thank you to everyone who participated!

There are over 150 AmeriCorps members serving in NEWESD programs, each making a difference in our community. This is Kasia’s Story of Service:

Kasia Alexander has a psychology degree from Evergreen State College and a heart for service. She is a full-time AmeriCorps member with the Spokane Service Team placed at North Pines Middle School. In addition to tutoring middle school students, Kasia has volunteered over 200 additional hours at local non-profit organizations. She is a perfect example of someone who has taken service and made it a part of her daily life.

Through her position with the 21st Century Success Academy at North Pines Middle School, she helps tutor 60 students to further education in math and science and homework help. The program focuses on students with low MSP scores, poor attendance in school and low grades. Programming is offered Monday through Friday which includes a “Why Try” Program (dropout prevention), a math improvement class, and at least 40 minutes per week in a computer program called Math Whizz.

Students are provided with time to complete their homework and receive one on one attention from tutors ranging from specially trained North Pines students, high school students and volunteer adult tutors. Also, on Fridays, some students are given the exciting opportunity to participate in a robotics program which is taught by an excellent science teacher from North Pines. Kasia shared, “Overall, I have seen some immense improvement from several of our students and already, some students have pulled out of failing grades!”

In reflecting on her year, Kasia wrote,

“Aside from my work at North Pines Middle School, I have participated in many activities that I feel have had a great impact on the community in which I currently live. I am particularly proud of my work with organizations who serve low-income individuals and families including 2nd Harvest, the Christmas Bureau and the Fill the Bus Event at The Trading Company.”

To start, I have volunteered at 2nd Harvest sorting food for several food banks throughout the community. I have sorted watermelons, potatoes, limes and food boxes to be sent to seniors in the community. While the work is tiring and the warehouse is often cold, it is always rewarding to hear just how many pounds of food we helped sort by the end of our shift, all for the good of those less fortunate in our community.

Another organization I have been involved with is the Christmas Bureau which took place during the Christmas season. I was put in charge of the candy table, which was responsible for handing candy canes to the adults who attended who did not have children to claim. A simple candy cane may not seem like much, but the smiles I often received at the other end of that red and white cane was extremely rewarding.

Lastly, I dedicated almost an entire Saturday to the “Fill the Bus” event that North Pines hosted at the Trading Company in Spokane Valley. My job was to keep an eye on the students who volunteered, collect food for local food banks (Thanksgiving themed) in a cart and wheel the cart out to a big yellow school bus which was pretty full by the time we finished! That food was taken to a local food bank to benefit families on Thanksgiving. One student was asked by a newscaster about the “competition” among the other middle schools to collect the most food and without hesitation he responded “That’s not what this about! It’s about helping people on Thanksgiving.” Truly an awesome thing to hear from a kid in middle school! “

His Hope, His Dream, Our Responsiblity. MLK Celebration!

By Whitney McKelvey, AmeriCorps member

AmeriCorps Members at STA Bus Plaza

Martin Luther King Jr. courageously shared his dream in hopes of equality for all men, women and children. Over 80 AmeriCorps members and staff congregated together on January 16, 2012 to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. by continuing in his fight for equal opportunity and to celebrate diversity. AmeriCorps members first listened to the insightful reflection of community leaders and the passionate speeches of Reverend Percy “Happy” Watkins and Reverend Dr. Stephen J. Thurston.

AmeriCorps members and staff, along with over 3,000 supporters, marched from INB Performing Art Center to Riverpark Square (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/jan/17/united-for-equality/).

MLK March

Members held the AmeriCorps banner up high with pride as everyone marched to the beautiful beat of Native American drummers and high school band. As AmeriCorps marched past police officers a kind “thank you” was said to each officer in gratitude for their service and dedication to protecting all the participants.

After the march, Washington Reading Corps led a well organized children’s fair with the help of the Spokane Service Team at the STA Bus Plaza. All children were welcome to make fun arts and crafts, such as friendship bracelets and lamb costumes out of paper bags. AmeriCorps was able to give away over 500 books thanks to the donations of local nonprofits and individuals in the community.

Thank you to all AmeriCorps members, staff and family who volunteered and participated in the Martin Luther King events. AmeriCorps continues to dedicate its work every day to “Getting Things Done”. People in the Spokane community recognize the dedication and positive impact AmeriCorps volunteers have on the community. Spokane Mayor David Condon captured the essence of the AmeriCorps mission as he said,

“Though we celebrate Martin Luther King Day just one day a year, we are working to live out the principles he taught us every day.”

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.