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.