Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Making a Difference in the South!

During our Make a Difference Weekend, of October 23, 2009, Team North Carolina started off the weekend with a lovely day at a park in Durham, NC partnered with the Vista AmeriCorps Literacy Program members. We helped to dig, fill and repair a disc golf course with park rangers from Durham Nature and Park Preservation. This disc golf course is used to help teach local youth a new game, build self esteem and have a great time while enjoying Mother Nature!

There were many dead and diseased trees which were removed from the park's forest system to keep the other trees healthy. The park rangers turned the deceased trees into mulch, which was then used by the AmeriCorps power team to move up the hill both ways to fill in the tees of the course. We made trips up and down, up and down the hill, shoveling and spreading mulch to help keep the erosion of the tees to a minimum. Since the course is built into the slope of a hill, during the rains the soil gets washed out not only ruining some of the holes, but complicating the wildlife's survival. The course needs to be ready for the ultimate disc golf tournament happening in mid-November.

While Kim and Erik were not able to be with us this day, they were with us in spirit, muscle, and sweat! We were able to get through 2 of the 18 holes before rain started to sprinkle down, and the next shift of Literacy AmeriCorps Members reported for duty! Our blood from blisters, sweat and tears of joy were left within that park, making our mark for the day!

Staci, Krupa and I spread the good word for AmeriCorps by rocking our amazing tees at the North Carolina State Fair! We were asked by several people about our exemplary work, and how to become a part of the team! Staci and Krupa indulged in true fair food by trying Fried Pickles. Other options included fried pie, fried chocolate bacon, fried cookies, oreos, fried ice cream, fried EVERYTHING! We watched the death defying carnival rides from a safe distance, sampled ice cream, and watched as kids with Superman balloons terrorized their siblings! All in good fair fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009 Team North Carolina headed to Durant Nature Park to help with crafts during their annual fall festival. Batty Bats, and Friendly Bugs were crafted by children in costume. Princesses, Superman, Power Rangers, Witches, Storm Troopers, Yoda, Darth Vadar, Dinosaurs, Flowers, Kittens, and other characters crafted with the AmeriCorp team, as well as the Jesuit Volunteers from the Raleigh Area. The Jesuit Volunteers are a group of 6 gals who do similar work to AmeriCorp but their program also has a faith componenet to it. They all live simply and together in a house in Raleigh. Each one of them is vibrant and has a unique story. Earlier this year we had a mixer barbecue with them, and they will be joining us on other events throughout the year! The locals in search of fun and festivities entered the park starting around dusk, and were carried to the pumpkin patch where crafts took place by hay ride. Young and old enjoyed the fun!

After enjoying crafts and games, the next part of the fun was a nature trail. The trail was lite by carved friendly pumpkins and candles creating a scenic atmosphere. To the left of the trail was a man made lake surrounded by the yellow, orange and red leaves of fall. Throughout the trail were stations about local animals, a spider, a butterfly, a wolf. Very appropriate for the Halloween weekend looming just ahead in the future. At the end of the trail was a magician and CANDY!!! A rewarding part of this event was watching how the kids really enjoyed themselves, and were very respectful and eager to learn about nature.

Our Make a Difference Weekend was full of joint efforts with other volunteer groups from the Raleigh, and greater Triangle area. New friends were made. Laughs were had, as well as candy, fried food, and good times. It was really great to work specifically with issues that affect youth within the triangle area. While this event wasn't about health specifically, it had a focus on environmental health and how the world really belongs to all of us, especially our future leaders, our youth. It was a break from the health field, and from the norm. Working with youth is a fantastically rewarding experience. The comments that come out of their mouths are so silly and random that you just can't help but smile, and SMILE we did!!

More pictures and fun from Team NC to come! - Alexandra C.

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