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:
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!
As part of AmeriCorps Week, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored a handful of outstanding AmeriCorps members, alums, and corporate sponsors with Spirit of Service Awards in recognition of their contributions to national service — including several individuals who serve or have served in communities along the National Service Express Tour!
The awardees tackled issues such as disaster relief, homelessness, literacy, and health care, demonstrating the power of service as a solution to tough community problems. The Spirit of Service Awards pay tribute to the most outstanding participants in each of the Corporation’s programs as well as corporate or foundation partners that are role models for private sector support of national and community service.
“These individuals and organizations have gone above and beyond the call to serve their nation,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “Not only do they give their own time and talents, they mobilize others in their communities to tackle some of America’s toughest social problems. The represent America at its best, and we salute them for their selfless service.”
Spirit of Service Award recipients that serve or have served in cities on the National Service Express Tour include:
- SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The eight-member team of AmeriCorps VISTAs serving with the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter is helping the region’s most vulnerable residents prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies, meeting the great demands of serving a population of 4 million people. Lindsay Dumas, Emerson Chen, Nikki Nichols, Jeff Schurke, Alicia Esterripa, Juan Carlos Pinzon, Francine Williams, and Chester Ng are targeting the needs of specific populations as they design and offer disaster training programs and conduct outreach activities.
- NEW ORLEANS, LA – Former AmeriCorps*NCCC members Ashley Sloan, Greg Loushine, and Jackie Smith served at the former Charleston, S.C., NCCC campus during the 2006-07 program year. While serving on a project in St. Bernard Parish, they recognized Gulf Coast recovery efforts were hampered by the need for more volunteer housing. Their response was to create Live St. Bernard, an organization that renovated an 1,800-square foot home where up to 16 volunteers can be housed while participating in rebuilding projects. The fundraisers they organized garnered $15,000 in donations. They then led 50 volunteers to clean mold, install insulation, and paint the Live St. Bernard Home. Their efforts were chronicled by CNN and USA Today.
- NEW ORLEANS, LA – Blue Four, a team based at the AmeriCorps NCCC Western Region campus near Sacramento, traveled to New Orleans for its first project with the Recovery School District immediately after completing training in Denver. Team members focused on their assignment, the physical rehabilitation of schools, while undertaking a variety of additional projects to leave a lasting mark on the school district and the community. Members brainstormed creative ways to increase interaction with students, teachers, and the community in general. They helped create a more pleasing environment at modular schools by painting signs and murals, using discarded tires and other materials to landscape gardens, planting flower beds, installing benches, and spray painting mascots on school grounds. They also organized two field days, seeking various donations such as play equipment and inflatable bouncy castles to entertain 925 students. The team members, led by Tiffany Zapico, include Jennifer Armstrong, Kelly Comley, Kathleen Delahunty, Ashley Duquette, Raven Hughes, Jonathan Lee, Emily Lewis, Brian Tirey, Danielle Trezek, and Miranda Williams.
- NEW YORK, NY – As an education leader, Pearson has helped the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart grow by nearly 20 percent annually. Pearson, an international company with its U.S. headquarters in New York, and the Pearson Foundation promote Jumpstart, provide leaders for Jumpstart’s national and regional boards, and donate 100,000 books to underserved families each year. They have been the lead sponsor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign from the beginning – a national awareness event and the largest shared-reading experience on record – helping Jumpstart raise money for young children and rallying together hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country to volunteer for literacy. Together the two organizations have worked to set a new standard for how corporate-nonprofit partnerships can impact the achievement gap in America. Pearson helps Jumpstart and communities grow and learn.
AmeriCorps Week is being marked by hundreds of events across the country, including a Habitat for Humanity blitz building project featuring 700 AmeriCorps members on the Gulf Coast and a closing ceremony today in Miami where more than 600 AmeriCorps members will restore an historic beach park.
For more information, hit up the AmeriCorps Week website, which features a database of events, news, stories, and information about how to join.