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! “