Author Archives: seanme

Q: Where Are Matt and Sean?

A: In Atlanta, at Be The Change’s Change Agent Academy and the 2008 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.  

Since we last posted, we’ve been on a 16 hour bus ride from Miami to Columbia, had three awesome meetings in Columbia, met an amazing man named Elliiot Epps, taken an hour too long 6 hour bus ride from Columbia to Atlanta and are now attending these great conferences in Atlanta.  

For those of you who don’t know about Be The Change and their Service Nation, check them out.

https://i0.wp.com/www.bethechangeinc.org/system/storage/39/617/timeline.jpg

We’ll be posting about the conferences this weekend and early next week, including an update about President Jimmy Carter’s closing address on Tuesday!

Leave a comment

Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour

Miami Update

Matt and I are in Columbia, SC, officially on the home stretch of the trip. Last night we met with supporters in Miami at Miami-Dade College. Below is a long awaited picture of Matt and I:

https://servenextbustour.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/s7300413.jpg?w=300

Miami was especially exciting because in many ways it served as “phase 2” of the ServeNext engagement process. Let me explain.

In March, Aaron, Zach, Matt and Patrick (Schmitt, former National Field Director for ServeNext) had a retreat in Miami, during which time they had a roundtable with the start up team at City Year Miami (about 10 people). The meeting was similar to the ones Matt and I have had throughout the tour. And what we saw yesterday was the ServeNext citizen-advocate movement beginning to grow. Instead of only City Year representatives, we had the opportunity to speak with AmeriCorps VISTAs, other AmeriCorps programs, such as Public Allies, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a handful of citizens who heard about the event through word of mouth. 

Through a diversified constituency and broader coalitions, we’re able to build strength in numbers. We had a chance to see this strength in Miami, and we look forward to seeing similar action networks throughout the country. We’ll have an update on Columbia and Atlanta in the coming days. Stay tuned!

1 Comment

Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps

Youth, Education & National Service

https://i2.wp.com/images.politico.com/global/080524_hrc.jpg  https://i1.wp.com/images.politico.com/global/080519_mccain_adler.jpg  https://i1.wp.com/images.politico.com/global/080527_obama_brown.jpg  

Politico writer Ben Alder has two recent articles touching on National Service in relation to the presidential campaigns.  The first, McCain is slow to gain young voters, is in regards to the youth vote, and how Clinton, McCain and Obama campaigned about issues that matter under-30 voters.  While Clinton and Obama have referenced National Service on the stump (and off), McCain will be looking to push that issue during the general election, as he did in a recent speech in Columbus.  

And McCain’s campaign aides and supporters believe he’ll appeal to young voters in another area: national service. “John McCain has constantly spoken to the need for young Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest,” Pounder wrote in an e-mail. “This is a call that John McCain will continue to make and engage young voters on.” 

The second, Hopefuls’ education plans show divides, discusses National Service in the context higher education affordability.  Thus far, this is another area that Clinton and Obama have discussed at greater length than Senator McCain.  

Obama touts his requirement that those who receive a tuition tax credit perform 100 hours of community service. “Something that Sen. Obama feels strongly about is community service built into the tax credit,” said Higginbottom. “He always gets the biggest response from audiences for not just giving money away but asking people to serve.” 

Clinton does not require community service but, like Obama, proposes to expand opportunities for receiving college aid in exchange for participating in a national service program such as AmeriCorps. 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under AmeriCorps, College Affordability, National Service in the News

ServeNOLA

https://i2.wp.com/msmcleaning.com/images/Drywall.jpg

Matt and I served in the Upper 9th Ward today (we were “floating” drywall, hence the picture), followed by our ServeNext New Orleans meeting at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.  At this point, we’re exhausted.  I’ll leave you with a quick story and links to some organizations who are doing great work to help rebuild New Orleans everyday.

Story: Matt, Sean (from Safer, see below) and I went to a local establishment for some Shrimp Po Boys. (They were delicious.)  While driving through the 9th Ward on the way back to the house we were working on, we saw 3 or 4 teams of AmeriCorps volunteers working on homes all throughout the neighborhood.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to talk to any of them (we had work to do!), but it was cool to see so many volunteers out and, along with taking part in direct service ourselves, reminded Matt and I of our service “roots.”

I told you it was short.  

Here’s a link fest!

AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18–24. Members live on one of four campuses, located in Denver, Colorado; Sacramento, California; Perry Point, Maryland; and Vinton, Iowa.

 

The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with nonprofit organizations, state and local agencies, and faith-based and other community organizations, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned.

Drawn from the successful models of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the U.S. military, AmeriCorps NCCC is built on the belief that civic responsibility is an inherent duty of all citizens and that national service programs work effectively with local communities to address pressing needs.

 

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is currently operating 51 programs, several of which are geared directly toward hurricane recovery. Our nearly 1,000 staff members have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents in Southeast Louisiana. As we rebuild our region, we are committed to bring a vision and a hope to those who need our aid.

Green Light New Orleans is an environmental organization addressing global warming and rising energy costs in the New Orleans Area.

Born and raised in Switzerland, musician Andi Hoffmann moved to New Orleans in 1993. He founded the organization in 2006 as a response to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. “I had to do something to help New Orleans get back on its feet again”, he said, “And I knew it had to be beneficial to the city of New Orleans as well as to our planet”. “We calculated the pollution we created by touring to Europe and figured out how many CFLs had to be installed to offset the pollution.” With each concert ticket sold at shows in europe people were asked to donate to Green Light New Orleans. The audience immediately suppported the idea and the fundraiser was a big success .

With the support of private donations, sponsors and supporters Green Light New Orleans is rapidly growing to meet the rising demand created by New Orleanians’ desire to save energy and help the planet. 

Hands On New Orleans Do something good. Be Hands On.

Good work happens through Hands On New Orleans. Get started with Hands On New Orleans, and we will connect you with a volunteer opportunity that makes a meaningful, positive rewarding change in New Orleans.

What can you do?

Help re build a home. house. Tutor a child. Care for abandoned pets. Clean a park. Renovate a school. Lead a volunteer group. Learn about and take action on community issues. Whether you are visiting New Orleans, or work and live here, Hands On New Orleans offers a variety of ways to get involved while meeting your availability and interests.

Volunteer for a one-time project . 
Volunteer , or volunteer for a few weeks. 
Volunteer after work, or between classes. Volunteer alone, with family, friends or co-workers.

When you volunteer with Hands On New Orleans, you join people from all backgrounds and experiences. You get a chance to explore issues that shape our community and develop your leadership and job skills. 

SAFER takes the direct approach to rebuilding the city of New Orleans, offering free labor to people who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of repairing their homes. We communicate directly with our families about their needs and their hopes for their rebuilt homes, and with community leaders and organizations about their plans for revitalizing their neighborhood. We realize that rebuilding can be a huge challenge, especially for homeowners who have few funds or also have the responsibility of a job and caring for a family. SAFER’s approach to rebuilding is to try to make the return home as simple as possible by helping the family in every aspect of rebuilding: applying for loans, getting building permits, and finding skilled labor to repair plumbing, electrical work, and roofing, among other tasks. Once the family is home, we can provide further assistance, such as finding a good daycare or school and getting money donated for groceries, furniture, and/or appliances. 

Leave a comment

Filed under AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Chapter Launches, Stories of Service Impact

The Final Leg

Relevant back stories: Crazy Train, “What’s your name, sweetie?”, The Wrath of Bonnie

After we pulled back on the freeway, the bus was running about 45 minutes behind, which posed a slight problem for Matt and I as we had meeting in Mesa at 6p.  It was looking like we’d get into Phoenix (about 20 miles west of Mesa) about 530 and were planning on cabbing it over to Mesa.  Before we got to Phoenix, however, Deb had one more outbreak in her.

On par with her ongoing saga of “Who’s kicking my seat?” (A: No one), she stood up and yelled at the three rows behind her, “I know the wind’s not moving my chair!”  As this was just before he had headed off to Phoenix, the driver came back and informed Deb that if she didn’t sit down, she’d be joining Bonnie on the road.  This seemed sufficient for Deb, as she sat down and we didn’t hear from her again.

https://i1.wp.com/www.pleasereleashme.com/images/Services_Pet_Taxi.jpg

As we pulled into Phoenix, Matt and I jumped into the first cab we saw and headed to Mesa Community College for our meeting.  The driver was a friendly man named Troy, who was fully equipped with a GPS system in his car and we were looking good.  Luckily we were getting to Phoenix during rush hour, and the freeway was backed up quite a bit. This prompted Troy to give us an offer we (apparently) couldn’t refuse: “I’ll take you off the meter – $40 flat rate – and get you there by six. And I’ll pay any ticket.” Troy had once driven a man from Phoenix to Denver for $1700, so I’m pretty sure he was used to bargaining with his clients.  Matt and I decided let’s do it, and off we went! Roy seemingly disregarded his GPS system at this point, driving us through neighborhoods of Phoenix, through Tempe and to Mesa Community College at about five after six.

This wrapped up our most adventurous trip to date.  Matt liked it so much that he tried to one-up it by getting stuck in Albuquerque and riding through Texas in one go.   

Leave a comment

Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour

Part II of the Magical Journey

If you’re out of the loop, read part I before continuing.

After consuming a highway restaurant burrito (it was excellent, and the first of many for me since I’ve been in the Southwest), Matt and I continued on what was soon to be named the Crazy Train.  

Since we had left LA, Deb and Bonnie had had a few run-ins with other riders, nothing major, but enough to switch seats a couple times.  Deb was convinced that someone kept kicking the back of her seat (including Matt) and Bonnie… Bonnie was in another world.  Matt and I had relocated a couple rows back to seats with more leg room, giving us a good vantage point for the fun that was about to ensue. (It also placed us in front of a man wearing a plastic bag on his head, but that’s neither here nor there).

An incident between Bonnie and an older man (we’ll call him Archie) started the fun.

https://i1.wp.com/www.entertainmentrights.com/uploads/image_bank/archie_hl.jpg

Bonnie and Archie had a run-in earlier, when Bonnie (during one of her seat changes) sat down next to him, causing a small argument.  Overall, no big deal.  Later, on her way to the bathroom, however, she began yelling at Archie.  The exchange went something like this:

Bonnie: Don’t hit me!

Archie: I didn’t hit you, you bumped me!

Bonnie: And then you hit me!

Archie: Sit down before I slap you!

Bonnie: So you already hit me, now you’re going to slap me!

Archie’s seat mate tried to tell Bonnie to settle down and go back to her seat, which led to a string of expletives to the seat mate, Archie and anyone else who would listen.  Bonnie then took her rage to our driver, telling him that she wanted the police called because Archie had put his hands on her.  The driver, aware that Bonnie had been causing problems throughout the ride, told Bonnie to sit down and be quiet. Bonnie, obviously not happy with this, went on a “F- you” laced tirade (directed at the driver and everyone else on the bus), including the line: “Is there anyone here brave enough to say that he threatened to slap me?”  She then took the law into her own hands, calling the police, which necessitated the bus driver to pull over.  

The view of the Arizona desert is lovely.  It looks something like this:

https://i0.wp.com/www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/images/desert/arizona_desert_6219.jpg

After waiting at mile marker 76 for a short time, the driver yelled “All Aboard” (ironic, as it is the first words in Ozzy Osbourne’s classic, “Crazy Train”) and drove us to mile marker 81.  Bonnie was not happy with this either, as the police told her they would meet us at mile 76.  When we pulled over to 81, she demanded to be let off the bus.  The driver allowed her off and she began walking back the five miles to mile 76.  And that, my friends, is the last we heard of Bonnie.  

End of the fun?  Not a chance.  Part three features the return of Deb and a taxi ride from Phoenix to Mesa.  

Leave a comment

Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour

A Magical Journey in the West

https://i0.wp.com/www.geocities.com/ron8318/roadtrip2004/rt_arizona_desert_highway.jpg

Yesterday, Matt and I took an epic ride from Los Angeles to Mesa, Arizona.  It wasn’t our longest trip to date, only scheduled to take seven and a half hours. From the very beginning, however, something special was in the air.  Maybe it was some of that LA magic (which we had experienced while walking down the street the day before.  As we were crossing the street downtown, a couple in a Beetle convertible invited us to a party the next day with the promise of (and I quote): “So many b*tches!”).  Maybe it was the hot desert sun (it’s expected to be over 100 in Phoenix this weekend).  Whatever the reason, as we boarded the bus with the last two tickets, we knew we were in for a treat. 

Here’s a run-down on the first (and much calmer) half on the bus:

  • Matt is stared down by a women sitting in front of him.  The interaction began without incident, with the women (we’ll call her Deb) talking to a women sitting next to Matt.  Then, without prompting, Deb violently shakes her head and stares bug-eyed at Matt, only to turn around disgusted and cover her head with her jacket. (I received a wink and smile from Deb later in the trip).
  • As we’re approaching a bus stop, Bonnie, Matt’s seat mate, faces him, rubs his back and says “What’s your name, sweetie?”
  • During our food break, I saw what I believe was a man eating a raw piece of chicken while on the bus.  
At this point, the ride gets a little out of control, with a screaming match, police phone calls and a cab driver named Troy.  Look for part two soon.

 

4 Comments

Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour