Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Team Carolina & Meals on Wheels

On August 27th, 2010, the Americorps/National AIDS Fund/Caring Counts Team Carolina partnered with Meals on Wheels to prepare, pack, and deliver healthy food to Durham, NC area residents. Needless to say, it was very early in the morning and quite humid. Venturing outside in the 95-degree heat immediately made teamembers sticky and sweaty.

However, the mission at hand was too important. The mission at hand could not be abandoned because of heat or perspiration. The mission at hand was essential.

The Americorps Team split up into two groups. One group was led by stunt-car driver Geoffrey Horsfield, while the other group was led my Lil' Hawking, Susan Lou. As a result fo their combined eladership, the team was able to deliver essential sustinence to more than 15 different homes in the Triangle area.

Each recipient was ecstatic to see us and receive the food. Team Carolina even helped one elderly woman fix her cell phone so she could contact her daughter in California. The feelings of goodwill were abound and the mission was assuredly worth the work.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Team Carolina AmeriCorps Week

Team Carolina recognized AmeriCorps week by accomplishing 2 different projects. We started our day at the Durham County Urban Ministry Center where we worked along side 12 other AmeriCorps members from the Literacy Corps. We split up into teams and some volunteers went to work in the kitchen and some stayed in the clothing closet. After just 3 hours of service we had gone through over 20 bags of clothing. Some things were really fun to sort through, such as the bags full of baby clothes. Other bags were a bit more interesting as we had to sort unmentionable items into the throw away pile. We all also had some fun as we found many items of clothing that were much better kept in a different decade. Over all we were able to fully stock the closet and after much sorting many great items of clothing were on display for the Durham Urban Ministry patrons. Next we said good bye to the Literacy Corps group and met up as a team to put together a video show casing our “power of 5”. This video gave all of us an opportunity to gather thoughts about our service year and convey how we all have made an impact. It was a lot of fun and a great end to the day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Madness.

Before starting, I'd like to emphasize how amazing Michigan State Basketball is.  March is where my team eats.  Sparty on.

Alright, February was good, but as Jay-Z says, "It's on to the next one."

For our team, things continue to come together for our LTP.  We are buying supplies for a housing program so people have such luxuries (sarcasm) as garbage cans, eating and cooking utensils, linen, shower curtains, hygiene products, etc.

The month of March was an amazing month of fifth days.  The first Saturday was 'Chicago Takes Off'. CTO is a huge fundraiser for TPAN.  It's a yearly burlesque show that is performed and organized through hundreds of volunteers.  Team Chicago got there about 8 hours early to help set up the stage, decorations, and bring general cheer to everyone.
(The team taking a quick break from setting up...What's Kevin looking at?  Probably a performer...)

After set up, we were lucky enough to score some free tickets to the show.  The show's theme was 'TV Land'.  Everything was based on old TV show favorites like 'I Love Lucy' and 'Gilligan's Island'.  Simply put, it was mind blowing.  Every member agreed that it was up there with some of the best fifth days.  I personally fell in love with a beautiful girl in one of the dance troupes (is troupe the right word?), but didn't have the courage to talk to her after the show...I'm a wuss.  The event raised about $170,000 for TPAN.  So, our small hand in setting up reaped some huge rewards for infected and at risk communities around Chicago, allowing many TPAN programs to continue.

All the performers taking their bow at the end of the show, note the beautiful decorations.

The next Friday, the 12th, we actually took a team bonding fifth day.  We drove out of the city to my parent's home, where I grew up, in the western suburbs.  There, my mom was waiting with a feast of Indian food.  We all just hung out, ate some great food and had a good time.  We also watched some basketball together.  Unfortunately, Davina's Wisconsin Badgers lost (sorry Day Day).  Afterwords, we split up and solicited some businesses to raise funds for our LTP.  A very relaxing fifth day.

We didn't take any pictures this fifth day, but here's a picture of my mom and I.
She cooks like a boss.  And dresses like one too.

The third fifth day of the month was spent at the American Indian Health Services of Chicago (AIHSC) health fair.  This was for National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  While at the fair, our team conducted testing and counseling.  We had the opportunity network with an entirely new population that we can continue to help for the remainder of the service year.  Props to Kevin on this, he organized everything and it went great.  Hopefully we'll see more of this great organization in the near future, they really need us and we loved spending time with all of the staff and clients.  No pictures from this event...sorry Maggie!

The last fifth day of March was spent at TPAN doing some odds and ends painting and making over 1,000 safe sex kits.  The weather was pretty miserable that day, so we are saving all of the kits for a huge outreach fifth day in perhaps May.  With over 1,000 kits already, excluding the thousands from other agencies, the day of outreach will prove a massive push for testing and awareness.  Awesome.

Got safe sex?

Wow...as I read over this post I realize how rapid fire I wrote.  I apologize, but it does pretty much sum up March for us.  We had some great fifth days and it flew by.  I hope all our teams are doing great and Team Chicago cannot wait for super fifth day with Team Indy and Team Detroit!

Also, Chicago started a twitter account: nafteamchi.  Follow us!

Enjoy the beautiful weather and be well.

Team Chicago.
Hi Members,
Exciting news in from Team DC. They are putting together a series of prevention videos. The first group of videos includes male and female condom demonstrations. Check them out at:

Team DC YouTube videos

Friday, March 19, 2010

Habitat For Humanity 5th Day in Westland, MI

For the week's fifth day, Team Detroit undertook a genuinely meaningful service project sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Western Wayne County. Some members of Team Detroit spent the day painting away. Others spent the day digging, chopping, raking, and getting really dirty.

Team Detroit came together, leaned on each other for support, and worked till dusk. Everyone walked away from the event with a keen sense of what "giving back to the community" is and how tangible things, like homes, can truly make a difference in someone's life.

Many Americans have a distorted view of Habitat for Humanity. The homes are not free; each family receiving a built house must pay a full mortgage and contribute 500 hours of labor to the building process. Even though Team Detroit was only there for a relatively short period, we realized how important the work we did truly was - we contributed to the building of a home that will, in the very near future, house one very happy family. We were even invited to attend the dedication ceremony in June by the site's Crew Leader. A good and rewarding time was had by all.

If your team hasn't worked with Habitat yet, I strongly encourage you to get involved.

-Team D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MLK Day, Detroit-Style

On MLK Day, Team Detroit partnered with CityYear Detroit and The United Way to give high-school students in the Detroit area a little bit more “style” when it came to their school’s appearance. A few members of Team Detroit helped remove old paint from doors and walls, while the rest put their painting skills to the test by applying thick coats of ocean-blue paint to the interior walls of Cody High School.

This is an excerpt of a letter penned by Randy J. Dillard, the Director of Volunteer Services for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, to Team Detroit:

“I wanted to personally send you a thank you for being a part of the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Your time and effort left an enormous impact on communities across Southeast Michigan. This was our area's largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to date, and we couldn't have done it without your hard work!

Each day, United Way is developing lasting solutions to the critical issues we face. Issues like ensuring our children have the education they need to succeed, ensuring people can build an income to support themselves and their families, and helping people with basic needs, like food. These are the three things we all need for a good life and United Way is working hard to mobilize the people and resources needed to create change.

Your service is a large part of our work. Because of you, high school students at Cody and Osborn High School – two of United Way’s turnaround schools – are walking through the doors more motivated and ready to learn. Nonprofits across the community are better able to serve their clients and youth in our community will soon have mentors who care about their futures.

It will take our combined efforts to create a thriving community. That’s what it means to Live United, and we’re glad you’ve joined the movement to create a better life for Southeast Michigan residents.”

A good, rewarding time was had by all!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!!!!

Team Tulsa participated in Tulsa's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade. We distributed information for HOPE Testing Clinic and Tulsa CARES, agencies that provide testing and case management. The parade route went through downtown Tulsa including the historic Greenwood district. This was especially significant because of the history with the Tulsa Race Riot. The Tulsa Race Riot, also known as the 1921 race riot, was a massacre during a large-scale civil disorder confined mainly to the racially segregated Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 31, 1921. During the riot, hundreds of people were injured and 10,000 were left homeless because of fires that caused massive property damage.
While walking through the streets where such a devastating event occurred, it meant a lot to be a part of the biggest MLK parade in Tulsa to date. Seeing hundreds of people from different backgrounds marching in peace was a powerful experience. Although we still have a long way to go, events like these are inspirational and show us how far we have come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Raleigh Rescue Mission

Prepared and ready TO SERVE AmeriCorps Style!

On January 29, 2010 Team NC went to the Raleigh Rescue Mission to help prepare and serve lunch to those in need staying at the shelter. The mission has overnight services that offers comfortable, safe refuge for single women and mothers with children. All of the guests are given clean clothing, warm showers, personal care items, nutritious meals, and cozy beds to sleep in. Those who are not in the emergency program, are in another branch of the Mission's services, including rehabilitation (getting a GED, substance abuse, transitions inbetween jobs ext), and have daily chores to help keep things at the Mission running smoothly.

Staci learning how to deep fry!

Getting some corn from the pantry! YUM!

Kim & Staci working hard to make some delicious salmon cakes!

While we were there we discussed how single dads are not given preferance at any shelters, and it is hard even on national levels for men with children to find housing. This is a form of reverse discrimination. What about the fathers? Why can't they be offerred housing/care when they have children, and meet the same criteria for entering a shelter as a women? How can this situation be resolved?

The food that we helped prepare was fresh and delicious. Local grocery stores such as Trader Joes, Fresh Market, and Whole Foods donate 50-60 lbs of food bi-weekly. The meal that we helped to prepare was food donated from RED LOBSTER! We helped serve crab, lobster, shrip and filet mignon. Let's just say the people staying at the mission are eating well! There was a salad and fresh fruit bar, ice tea, deserts, and bread a plenty. The kitchen was one of the cleanest and highly efficiently set up that we have had the pleasure to serve in this year. The staff in the kitchen was part hired, and partly those living at the mission. We all had a great time! It was a deliciously rewarding day of service.

After the Rescue Mission we went to Krupa's agency, the Alliance of AID Services and made safer sex kits for their upcoming events!

Cheers! -Alex

Thursday, February 11, 2010

January and MLK

First off, I apologize for the lateness of this post.  I realize January is almost two weeks ago now, but here is what we did and I promise to not post February in the middle of May.

Our Fifth day for MLK day actually consisted of two days of service.  The first was called Chicago Cares Celebration of Service.  The day started with check-in and an opening ceremony at 7:45am in Union Station's Great Hall. The opening ceremony consisted mostly of some songs sung by a choir and several short speeches, from Governor Quinn, Mayor Daley, and Ed Gordon (Emmy award-wining journalist and former BET news anchor). At 9:30, all of the volunteers were dismissed to board their respective school buses and head to their project locations. Our site was Suder Montessori Magnet Elementary School (a school next to former housing projects that were at the center of Alex Kotlowitz's book "There Are No Children Here"). Our assignment for the day was to paint pictures on large canvases to decorate the hallways of the second floor of the building. All of the projects at Suder were art-related and included repainting the cafeteria and making wall mosaics in other hallways.

Our second day of service we went to an elementary school on the southside of the city and worked to better the school conditions.  We mainly repainted the hallways that needed a new coat of paint badly.  While there, we volunteered with a hugely diverse group of people.  There were middle schoolers there, other AmeriCorps groups, college kids, and even some families.

MLK day is a day of service that makes one think about your year with a wider lens.  I think that one thing about being a part of an AmeriCorps program, particularly a relatively small one like NAF's, is that it can be easy to feel a certain amount of isolation in your service. From week to week at your host agency, you get used to the feeling of being the sole AmeriCorps member in a given environment. This isn't to say that you don't have a good relationship with your coworkers or feel a sense of community with your clients during your regular work week... I know I do, but I'm also aware of the fact that I have a very different role there from that of paid staff members. What's nice about Fifth Days in general is the feeling of being part of a team of individuals with the same or similar goals and experiences as you; what's even better about national service days like MLK Day is that you're able to feel connected to people in your host city and other communities across the country, people who are all like AmeriCorps members for a day. Also, at the Chicago Cares event, a large amount of the people who were volunteering were adolescents from Chicago public schools, some of whom asked us about ourselves (where we went to college, etc.) and our AmeriCorps service, so hopefully we encourage the growing interest in programs like our own and other AmeriCorps programs.
It sounds really cheesy, but there was something about being in the Great Hall of Union Station with 3,000 other people from across the state, people of all different backgrounds but with the same motivations.  It was comforting and inspirational. It made me proud that volunteering to help the people of Chicago and honoring the lives of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. is something that our team does every day, not just when a holiday calls for it.

Our next fifth day was spent at Mallory's agency, The Night Ministry.  We met in the afternoon before to make the meal that we would be serving on one of The Night Ministry's southside stops.  Together, we made about 6 gallons of chicken chili and about 10 sheets of amazing corn bread (Kevin's own recipe, ask him about it...it's from his grandma).  We served about 65 people that night.  Personally, it was one of my favorite days.  Everybody at the stop was super nice and there was just a community buzz around.  For the situation, it was amazing to see so many smiles.  And the food was amazing.

PS- Mallory accidentally cut herself while cooking.  This just proves my theory that people should never cook.  Just go out for dinner.  Duh.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AmeriCorps Rocks Extreme Makevover Neighborhood Edition

The blogpost below tells the behind-the-scenes story of AmeriCorps involvement and the extraordinary partnerships and compassion that transformed a neighborhood.

It all started with a text message to a friend. Kyle Kraus (from Buffalo, NY construction company David Homes) sent Joshua Randle (of WNY AmeriCorps) this text: "Extrm mkovr home edit comin 2 do house in buflo. u in?" "can u bring vols?" Randle's response, "Of course!...you want 10 or 10,000?"

David Stapleton of David Homes had been selected to build a home for a deserving family on Massachusetts Avenue in the City of Buffalo, by the hit ABC show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." David was looking to expand the project beyond the one house and into the community, but they only had two and a half weeks to make a plan and build a team. WNY AmeriCorps agreed to come on board to manage volunteers and further develop the community projects, and what started with the idea to assist a handful of homeowners quickly grew into what would be coined "Extreme Makeover: Neighborhood Edition."

"It was heartening to see David embrace a commitment to the community beyond the makeover house,” said WNY AmeriCorps CEO Mark Lazzara. "It really enabled WNY AmeriCorps to do the kind of service we do everyday, but with amazing resources at our finger tips. We didn't have to say no to anyone in need.”

Led by WNY AmeriCorps COO Joshua Randle, community meetings began and the scope of the projects expanded, with the staff of WNY AmeriCorps taking an active role in identifying and addressing community need while also maintaining the required confidentiality of the chosen house. Along with community partners, the scope of the project had more than tripled.

Meanwhile, something special started to happen online. The outreach was working. Western New Yorkers had begun to sign up to volunteer; hundreds the first day, hundreds the next, adding up into thousands. Word went out to WNY AmeriCorps members, offering them the unique opportunity to lead volunteers in the kind of large scale community change possible under the spotlight of national attention with passionate local interest.

On November 7, the day the Powell family finally found out they had been selected to receive an Extreme Makeover, over 1,000 volunteers came out to march to their front door as part of what the show calls the "Braveheart March.” While volunteers were marching, WNY AmeriCorps was working to prepare for the next five days of projects.

Through the work of David Homes, Delores Powell's family's new house was going to be "green;” super efficient with a minimal environmental impact. On the first project day, the deconstruction of the old house began, with local non-profit, and WNY AmeriCorps partner, Buffalo ReUse leading WNY AmeriCorps members and alumni as the house came down piece by piece for recycling. Many materials taken from the house were used in the neighborhood projects, including using the stone foundation to create a retaining wall in the community garden and lumber to reinforce other community projects.

Throughout the week community members began to come forward with their stories, opening up to WNY AmeriCorps members and staff, admitting that they had been living without some of the most basic necessities for years. Some had no hot water while others had been living with no running water at all. Roofs had been leaking while porches deteriorated, with little or no resources to correct the issues. As WNY AmeriCorps members began leading the projects to replace railings and roofs, reinforce porch floors, rebuild steps, paint houses, and hang siding on houses, staff reached out to local retailers and contractors, working with David Homes to receive donations to help fix the most urgent problems of neighborhood residents. Complete roofs were donated and installed, new security lights dotted the neighborhood and increased the sense of safety, all while a certified emerald-green home was built in the center of the City of Buffalo with volunteers serving around the clock to complete it. In the end, Buffalo had the largest amount of volunteers in the history of the show,yielded 6,336 volunteers who served 53,544 hours in service to 422 individuals from 164 families.

In the course of five days, an opportunity to create tremendous community changefroman impressive public-private partnership between David Homes and WNY AmeriCorps, creating confidence in the Massachusetts Avenue community and providing many low-income homeowners the encouragement, resources, and leadership they needed to move forward and build community. "I am proud that over 200 WNY AmeriCorps members and staff a significant role. We believe that service benefits both those who are being served, as well as those who are serving,” said Lazzara. "This was truly a transformational service project.”

The full statistics of the community projects are staggering:

6,336 Volunteers Mobilized
4,053 Community Revitalization and Transformation Volunteers
1,428 Skills and Trades Volunteers
855 Food Drive Helping Hands Volunteers
53,544 Volunteer Hours Served
32,424 Community Revitalization and Transformation
14,280 Skills and Trades
6,840 Food Drive Helping Hands
$1,516,511 Value of In-kind Volunteer Service
$909,169 Community Revitalization and Transformation
$415,548 Skills and Trades
$191,794 Food Drive Helping Hands
14,360 Meals Donated and Served to Volunteers
109 Individual Community Revitalization and Transformation Projects
33 Homes Equipped with New Security Lights
7 Full or Major Paint Projects
17 Minor Paint Projects
3 Full Siding Projects
3 Roofs Installations
5 Porch Renovations
5 Gutter Installations
4 New Fence Installations
2 Community Garden Projects
30 Properties Landscaped
164 Unique Households Served
412 Community Residents Served
119 New Trees Planted
388 Units of Blood Collected
85.1 Tons of Food Collected
$255,300 Value of Food Collected
1,207 People Fed Every Day for an Entire 10 days
Yours In Service,

The AmeriCorps Alums Team

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MLK Day - New Mexico

Team New Mexico's MLK Day was pretty low key, as there wasn't much for us to do in the area, but we made work for ourselves. At the state capitol in Santa Fe there was a Day of Remembrance held in Dr. King's memory. This years turn out was more sparse than last, from what I understand, but it was memorable non-the less.

When we arrived people were just starting to gather in their seats, and during the wait there was a traditional African drumming group, one of the members we talked to was from Nigeria. One of the drummers, we found out later was form Nigeria. Before the speeches started, everybody joined in singing "The Black National Anthem" Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, By: James Weldon Johnson.

Lift ever voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resounds loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us;
Facing he rising sun of our new da begun,
Let us march till victory is won.

After that there were many key note speakers. Some from the NAACP, the mayor, and awards given out for children who entered the MLK Essay contest.

The most memorable speech, however, was given by a historian and genealogist by the name of George Geder. He talked about Dr. Kings "roots" more than he talked about Dr. King himself. Dating back to his great-grandparents, Dr. King had a long legacy of people who devoted themselves to the greater good of society. Most notably, are his parents: Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams, who were both social activist and pastors. Without this rich family life, George Geder argues, Dr. King would not of been the civil rights activist we celebrate today. This reminder of Dr. Kings history, served as a reminder of the importance of looking at the full picture. I think, Dr. King would agree that he is not the only person to be remembered, but the people who stood behind him, and the people we work hard to help everyday.

After the ceremony, we went to lunch with Robert and planned our long term project and gathered together what we had planned for the rest of the day. Those of us that had something to donate brought what we could, and we went around to local charities and donated goods to them. We went to Salvation Army, Open Hands, and St. Vincent de Paul.

All in all, while the day was low-key, it felt very productive. We helped out good charities, bonded as a team, and were reminded of why we celebrate MLK Day in the first place - to remember those who have made what we have today, and to look forward to those who we can help tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- MLK Jr.

On MLK Day Team North Carolina started the day off with an awareness march through downtown Durham. Durham's Hayti Center (where the team also was for WAD), was the beginning point of the march. After a long wait trying to find a restroom for half of the team, the day began. We joined about 200 people with signs, jackets and a pure excitement for raising awareness about the issues Martin Luther King, Jr. was all about. There was a great mixture of diversity represented through the group. The march was led by a police escort- which was fun! People honked and waved at us as they drove by.

Team NC braving the cool air to march!

One sign of MANY that had quotes from MLK Jr!

The long line of marchers

Crowd gathered to listen to Attorney Larry Hall remarking on the significance of the day. He also spoke about how doing service should be a necessary part of life.

During the march songs were blasting from vocal pipes. One song that made repeated cameo performances was "We shall over come." The march ended at the First Baptist Church. The Church held a special ceremony with several pastors speaking, leading the congregation in remembrance prayers and speeches. There was also a youth choir from the Durham Community that sang several well pitched and well practiced songs about unity, faith and hope. This ceremony we had to leave a few minutes early to trek over to Duke University's campus to watch a special show.

Duke University's Martin Luther King Day Event Planning committee hosted the African Children's Choir. The African Children's Choir is a group of orphaned African children, that have been given the chance at a new life. Before the African Children's Choir performed, a local Durham High School choir regaled us with "We are the World," by a group of artists, and "It's the Climb" by Miley Cyrus. These songs really were perfect fit into the day, and a great way to have our team's thoughts transition from the march to a musical appreciation of love, friendship, and hope

A bit about the Choir's history: The first Choir was formed in 1984, selected from orphaned and vulnerable children in the Kampala and Luwero areas of Uganda. After the Choir was trained to perform and readied for living in new and different cultures, the children traveled from Uganda to tour amongst the North American Church communities. They immediately impressed audiences with their vibrancy and outstanding musical talent. They quickly became a mouthpiece for the plight of the many thousands of vulnerable children like them in Uganda. The funds they earned through donations provided for their own support and education and more!
The proceeds of the first African Children’s Choir tour also funded the building of an orphanage back in Kampala from which a second African Children’s Choir was selected. The proceeds of their tours and the sponsorship support they would attract funded a growing program of establishing literacy schools to enable the very neediest children to get a foot up into proper education.

Meanwhile, the continuing care, education and development of returning Choir children was assured through the proceeds of Choir tours and the generosity of sponsors and donors.
To date over seven hundred vulnerable children have been through the Choir program and the funds they have generated have provided the opportunity of education and hope for many thousands like them in some of the most desperate and needy areas of Africa.

This choir really was inspiring! There was a reception afterwards that promoted more opportunities to get involved with the organization, how to sponsor orphans in Uganda, and had craft tables where the proceeds went to help the children. A few members purchased items from the craft tables. The African Children's Choir was a moving way to end the day. The choir sang songs that were inspirational, and some that were religious. All had thankful messages about being saved and given a new chance at life. Hearing the children speak about what they wished to be when they grew up, really spoke volumes about the chance at a healthy future that these kids have.

The title of this post, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said by MLK Jr., is really the take home message from our day of remembrance and service. The march was helping promote awareness of equality, unity and peace within the Durham Community, and remembering the past but also helping the community to look to the future. The future is all about the youth within our communities. As we watched the choir, the fact that the youth of all over the world need a chance to be healthy, educated and given a chance to thrive (basic human rights), really was evident. We can not be silent about the way life is for others around the globe, we can not be silent about promoting equality. The African Children's choir is giving youth of Africa the dream of a better tomorrow, a thought and message MLK Jr. said and hoped for all of us.

It was a great day! Team NC must give kudos to Kim for planning an inspirational fifth day! :)

Cheers! Alex

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Team Indy/MLK Day of Service 2010

Each year the IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis) Center for Service Learning puts on a day of service on Martin Luther King Day. Students, Faculty, Community Members, and Alumni gather for breakfast and a program honoring Dr. King. Participants are prepared for a productive day of service throughout the city of Indianapolis. After meeting in groups lead by a Service Leader from IUPUI, the groups disperse to work on projects off campus.

Year after year, Indianapolis tends to fall short in opportunities which are available to the community who want to volunteer. IUPUI Center for Service and Learning has been nationally recognized for their work in the community and always has a great role in creating opportunities for those interested in service.
The morning began at IUPUI where we gathered for breakfast with people who were to participate in the day with us. Shortly thereafter, we were presented the “I Have a Dream Speech” by a local high school student. The members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Phi Chapter presented a short step-show in honor of their fraternity brother, King. We were given a brief synopsis of King’s work and life, encouraged to speak to the people at our table about why service was important, and mentally prepare for impact in the community. We were soon dismissed, with our yellow 2010 MLK t-shirts to nearby sites to serve.
This year our team was placed at the Indianapolis Senior Center. Located downtown, not too far from many of our offices, it was nice to get to know a little bit more about the fantastic perks hidden away in Downtown Indianapolis. It offers everything from exercise classes to computer classes. We helped to organize, clean, dust, and tour the center.
During the day of service, we got to work with other community members, IUPUI student leaders, and staff at the Senior Center. After service there was an opportunity to reflect by each person sharing what they got out of the day. It gave the opportunity to discuss service from several different perspectives.

One thing we discussed as a group was that next year members could attempt to coordinate volunteer opportunities for volunteers in our agencies etc. We all seemed to hear about somebody who wanted to serve but had no where to go because most places ran out of slots to have people participate in whatever opportunities were available. The obstacle here is finding things that can be done on a national holiday when offices are usually closed. Of course that is something for next year’s team to discuss. MLK Day 2010 was a success. Although many people were wondering how dusting and wiping down furniture can make any difference, small things add up to a lot and as a team and as a community we made a big difference. Team Indy is always eager to make the biggest impact possible, and this year it was nice to be able to do so collectively with other groups. We work as a collaborative group of six, group of the Indianapolis community, National AIDS Fund Caring Counts AmeriCorps group nationally, and hopefully as group globally to make real impact in the world. It starts with one person organizing one group who can change the world in one city at a time. And of course it doesn't hurt to have a little fun while you're at it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

30 seconds of your time will Change someones life!

Hey everyone!
I hope your year is going well! I would love if you could take a few minutes of your time and VOTE for Think Impact, a non-profit organization that I am currently a Fellow with, and when we all first met had just spent the summer in Kenya with. Think Impact (formerly Student Movement for Real Change) has a chance at winning a MILLION DOLLARS! If you are a Facebook user please take 30 seconds to go to http://www.thinkimpact.org/chase and vote for us! You need to become a fan of Chase Giving Challenge, then just simply click on Student Movement for Real Change and you will have become a part of a huge movement to help thousands of people living in poverty in Africa. Voting ends Friday the 22nd! So Please vote and help your fellow AmeriCorps member out! I really appreciate it! Thank you for your help and support!

<3 Alex Team NC

*For more info on my project that this challenge will help fund please visit: www.thinkimpact.org/alex

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

World AIDS Day in the Southwest

One day for AIDS work and recognition was not enough for us here in New Mexico, so we tested and partied all week long. Starting on WAD-eve, we headed over to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for a full day of testing from 10am-4pm, followed by a half hour presentation by the Department of Health on HIV/AIDS prevention. We ended up testing about 25 people. Thank you to Arika, the NM DOH, and Alpha Phi Alpha for setting it all up!

The following day we switched it up and instead of testing students in Albuquerque we went over to Santa Fe Community College and held an event there (thanks to the awesome help from their Student Nursing Club). Being that SFCC is a smaller school, we did not test as many people, but we still managed to inform nine individuals of their status. We also were able to hand out some free condoms and literature, so there are a couple more people out there practicing safe sex because of us!

The testing event went from 9am-4pm, and afterwards we grabbed some dinner at Bumblebee’s and then headed to Railway Park for a candlelight vigil for those who have died of AIDS. The vigil was hosted by Trey’s agency, Southwest Care Center, which is a high tech HIV/AIDS clinic, and was a sad but good experience. They lined the park with “farolitos”, a local decoration that is simply a brown paper lunch bag with a candle inside. There was a bunch lining the pathways and in the shape of a big AIDS ribbon in the middle of the park. It was simple but scenic, gently lighting up the park. After a brief speech by the Medical Director of SWCC, Trevor Hawkins, and a few melodies sung by SWCC staff, anyone who wanted to could tell their and their loved ones story. It was a good way to hear how people other than those who are positive are affected by the disease.

Unfortunately, we had to go back to our agencies and work after Tuesday, but that did not stop us from finishing off the week with a party! That Friday our city supervisor, Robert Sturm, and the agency he works at, New Mexico Community AIDS Partnership, held a get together for WAD and the various HIV/AIDS agencies and projects they help fund. There was a whole bunch of interesting people there, as well as free soda and food, so obviously us Americorps members flocked to the event. It was a fun and relaxing way to finish up a busy week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

World AIDS Day with Team Detroit

Team Detroit worked tirelessly all day to do its part for a very significant cause. The Team decided to spread itself around in hopes of contributing to the success of several different programs. Team Detroit aimed to get things done.

Team D was split into 4 overlapping groups. The first group was extremely excited to be a part of the Detroit Health Department's WAD Testing Event. Two team members offered their services to the community via the Detroit Health Departments Mobile Testing Unit.

The second group participated in the University of Detroit Mercy's all-day WAD event. A few team members helped with testing, while the others participated in a HIV/AIDS Panel Discussion. A good and rewarding time was had by all.

The third group helped set-up and take down the Detroit Red Ribbon Collaborative's Health Fair. Additionally, one team member provided rapid testing to persons attending the fair, while the others participated in HIV/AIDS outreach, engaging community members in important discussions.

Finally, the last group staffed the Detroit Red Ribbon Collaborative's Detroit Red Fundraiser. The event proved to be an awesome success. For Team Detroit, WAD represented an exciting opportunity to collaborate with different organizations in hopes of providing as much assistance, direct or indirect, to the community.

We hope all teams did everything in their power to help the communities they serve on WAD. We wish all teams a successful and rewarding remainder of the service year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Team Indy celebrated the winter holidays by decorating cookies, which we then delivered to a local domestic violence shelter.

Happy New Year, from your friendly neighborhood reindeer impersonators!