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.