Public Spirit February 2012

What you’ll find in this month’s edition:

  • Upcoming Events Calendar
  • AmeriCorps Member Spotlight Hanna Mosca, St. Paul VISTA
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Recap

Rallies & Events

  •  Habitat for Humanity (Rochester) by Claire Hammer
  •  United Way Book Screening (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik
  •  MLK Weekend Food Drive (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik
  •  Setup for Community Breakfast (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik
  •  Marshall Kitchen Table Food Shelf (Marshall) by Hannah Tutt

 Greater Minnesota

  • Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities (Woodbury) by Claire Hammer
  •  Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities (Brooklyn Park) by Claire Hammer
  •  Second Harvest Heartland (Minneapolis) by Kelly Bresin
  •  Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores (Saint Paul & Brooklyn Center) by Abigail Spaniol
  • Gardening Matters (Minneapolis) by Kelly Bresin
  •  Project for Pride in Living (Minneapolis) by Alyssa Surges

 Metro

  •  Minnesota Children’s Museum by Allison Berth
  •  MLK Sunday Supper Potluck (Minneapolis) by Ryan Kierczynski
  • MLK City Wide Rally (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik
  • Saint Paul MLK Day Rally (Saint Paul) by Ashley Laflin

Upcoming Events Calendar

March 10 – 18, 2012    

AmeriCorps Week (details to come!)

AmeriCorps Member Spotlight

Hanna Mosca, St. Paul VISTA  by Riley Lindberg

Hanna Mosca is a St. Paul VISTA serving at the Community Design Center of Minnesota (CDC), which seeks to build vibrant and healthy communities through food, conservation, and youth development. As the youth apprenticeship coordinator, she is in charge of coordinating all aspects of the three youth internship programs at the CDC, Garden Corps, Nutrition Corps, and Conservation Corps.

“I lead recruitment and hiring of our youth interns, help coordinate speakers and field trips that focus on careers within food and ecology, coordinate external internships for students who are ready for the next step, and have been piloting an alumni engagement project.”

While it is definitely hard work, Hanna has a passion for what she does.

“I have been passionate about volunteering for as long as I can remember. When I found this position at the Community Design Center of Minnesota, combining my enthusiasm for working with young people, gardening, and food justice, I knew I had found my place!” And Hanna has definitely found her place.

This is Hanna’s second year serving as a St. Paul VISTA. She decided to come back for a 2nd year because she loves working with the youth interns at the CDC. “They inspire me to work as hard as I possibly can to make sure our programs are meaningful and effective.”

After her service with AmeriCorps is over, Hanna hopes to continue working with young people in the areas of gardening and food and experiential education. “My years of service through AmeriCorps have better equipped me with skills to step into a variety of positions within youth programs.”

Hanna also thinks others should “definitely” join AmeriCorps. “I have had an amazing time working with other really passionate individuals and discovering so many amazing youth programs in the city of St. Paul. I really appreciate the opportunity to gain many skills above and beyond typical entry level positions available to recent graduates.”

For more information about the Community Design Center of MN visit comdesignctrmn.org. For more information about the St. Paul VISTA program visit www.stpaul.gov/vista

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Of Service Recap

This year the InterCorps Council of Minnesota members joined together to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by planning and volunteering for 16 service projects statewide, pulling together 188 individuals volunteering 630 hours. The ICC was featured in over 16 news outlets, receiving publicity in two television news spots.

In addition to the service projects, the ICC also held an MLK Day Sunday Supper Potluck and participated in two MLK Day Rallies.

For this month’s Public Spirit we would like to showcase the variety of events and service projects that ICC members participated in on MLK Day.

Featured below are first hand accounts and summaries of these rallies, events and projects.

Rallies & Events

Saint Paul MLK Day Rally (Saint Paul, MN) by Ashley Laflin

On the morning of January 16th, 2012, over 100 AmeriCorps members joined with hundreds of community members at Saint Paul’s Central High School to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The morning commenced with a rally including spoken word, music, and speeches.  Mayor Chris Coleman of Saint Paul and Congressman Keith Ellison gave speeches during the rally. Senator Al Franken, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Representative Betty McCollum, and Governor Mark Dayton also attended.
“I enjoyed the MLK rally at Central High School immensely, particularly during the student spoken word performance as well as the performance by the professional spoken word artist. These were both moving and insipirational messages. The speeches by our public figures on the achievement gap in Minnesota were emphatic and addressed the major issue regarding race in our educational system,” said Jesse Zager, an AmeriCorps member serving with the Community Technology Empowerment Program.
After the rally, most attendees marched from Central High School to the Gangelhoff Center at Concordia University.  The event at Concordia included keynote speakers, performances,  and an educational and cultural fair.

Duluth MLK City Wide Rally (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik

Hundreds of people marched through the cold, crisp air in downtown Duluth, Minnesota and flooded into the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center with an attitude of respect and excitement. All around the state, people gathered to remember the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. as they attended rallies, marched together, and served their communities. AmeriCorps members were right there in the middle of it.

MLK Sunday Supper Potluck (Minneapolis) by Ryan Kierczynski

On the night before the MLK national holiday, 43 individuals gathered in North Minneapolis for a potluck style dinner to celebrate the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr. and community service as a whole.  The Social and Networking committee of the InterCorps Council of Minnesota planned the event and Emerge Community Development hosted the event.  Thirty three AmeriCorps members attended, representing ten programs throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The event also welcomed their guests and AmeriCorps Alumni members from years past.

After dinner, the event showed a screening of the documentary We Still Live Here, thanks in part to the Independent Television Service.

Following the film, Allison Berth of the City of St Paul VISTA program facilitated a discussion around the film and how it connected to community service.  When asked about the event, Emerge*VISTA member Deanne Vaughn said, “The MLK potluck was a great opportunity to meet other people serving as AmeriCorps volunteers in the Twin Cities and to learn about all the work that is being done by Corps members.  I enjoyed talking to and was inspired by other Corps members who are passionate about the work that they are doing during their year of service.”

The ICC would like to thank Emerge Community Development, Points of Light Institute, and ITVS for making this event possible and we look forward to hosting this and similar events in the future.

Minnesota Children’s Museum by Allison Berth

For Martin Luther King Jr. Day the Saint Paul VISTA Program volunteered with the Minnesota Children’s Museum (MCM). In honor of Dr. King, MCM partnered with Doing Good Together to sponsor “Small Hands, Big Hearts”, an event that encouraged both adult and youth visitors to take part in small service projects at the museum. VISTAs volunteered at the different service project stations to help visitors create cheerful cards for children who are hospitalized, decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels participants, and create Giving Boxes that encourage youth to save up and then donate to a non-profit of their choice.

Metro

Project for Pride in Living (Minneapolis) by Alyssa Surges

For my Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., I had the pleasure of volunteering at Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis with 13 other AmeriCorps members. We prepared apartment buildings for painting by sanding and taping the walls. Our biggest perk of the project was when residents stopped to thank us for our work, which made our service project feel worthwhile.

Gardening Matters (Minneapolis) by Kelly Bresin

“Gardening Matters” is an independent organization dedicated to community gardening in the Minneapolis area.

On the afternoon of MLK Day, over 40 AmeriCorps members volunteered their time to help with Gardening Matters’ efforts. Members filled the tables and packed a variety of seeds, spanning from spinach to parsnip, into tiny packets that are to be distributed to local members of Gardening Matters.

Many AmeriCorps member enjoyed the afternoon conversing with fellow members and making a difference on the important day.

“I could really see how many people this day was bringing together and I could imagine the incredible amount of service being completed by AmeriCorps members across the Twin Cities.” – Eric Whalen, CTEP AmeriCorps

Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores (Saint Paul & Brooklyn Center) by Abigail Spaniol

AmeriCorps members greeted the day bright and early at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Store in St. Paul, MN. The St. Paul location is one of four in the Twin Cities metro. All proceeds from Arc’s support Arc Greater Twin Cities’ programs and services, which help children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Andrea Salazar, AmeriCorps VISTA Marketing Coordinator at ThreeSixty Journalism, spent four hours of her time on MLK Day placing items on the sales floor at Arc’s.

“Volunteering at the thrift store made me feel like I was starting my day off on a good start,” Salazar said. “It was nice to have the opportunity to do this activity with other AmeriCorps members.”

Meanwhile, Joua Lee, CTEP AmeriCorps Member and Set It Up Assistant Coordinator at the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, volunteered in a similar capacity at Arc’s in Brooklyn Center. She chose to volunteer at Arc’s because she knew their proceeds go to a good cause and wanted to learn more about their work and how their store operates. During her time at the store she helped pair, sort and tag jewelry.

“I thought MLK Day was amazing. Volunteering at Arc’s was a good experience,” Lee said.

Second Harvest Heartland (Minneapolis) by Kelly Bresin

The morning of MLK Day AmeriCorps members from a variety of different programs came together at Second Harvest Heartland to bag 1,392 pounds of oats that can be distributed at local food shelves.

Members worked together as an assembly line scooping, weighing, sealing and boxing the oats so the product could be sent out immediately. On that day the members helped Second Harvest get closer to their goal of serving almost 390,000 meals for people in need.

Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities (Brooklyn Park) by Claire Hammer

National Service members serving in Minnesota spent the day demolishing the interior of a future Habitat home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, preparing it for a remodel. The thirteen National Service members worked on the home alongside the future homeowners, contributing at least 100 hours of service.

Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities (Woodbury) by Claire Hammer

Four National Service members volunteered over 30 hours on MLK Day in Woodbury, MN. These volunteers spent the day painting the inside of a future Habitat home with Habitat employees and future Habitat homeowners. Their work in helping complete this Habitat home furthers Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to provide affordable solutions to economically disadvantaged families.

Greater Minnesota

Marshall Kitchen Table Food Shelf (Marshall) by Hannah Tutt

On MLK Day I volunteered at the Marshall Kitchen Table Food Shelf, along with four other ICC recruited volunteers. I’ve never volunteered at a food shelf before, so I had no idea what to expect. Upon arriving, our group was informed that there were some regular food shelf volunteers that would be there to help guide us through our tasks. We were all amazed at how hard they worked and how involved they were with the food shelf. Many of them volunteer multiple days every week!

We were privileged to receive a tour of the building area, as well as learn more about who the food shelf serves and where they receive much of their stock from. Marshall area businesses, including WalMart, HyVee, County Fair, and more donate thousands of pounds of baked goods, produce, and other food items every single week. Additionally, the food shelf orders many of its goods from Second Harvest Heartland in the metro (and incidentally, there was another ICC group packing food at a metro Second Harvest site on MLK Day!).

Our group helped to organize existing goods prior to receiving a new shipment and unloaded and sorted a busload of goods containing a wide variety of fresh produce. We had a wonderful time with the staff and volunteers in Marshall, and we all had an interest in going back at a later date (perhaps AmeriCorps Week) to volunteer again.

Setup for Community Breakfast (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik

Duluth hosts an entire weekend of events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and AmeriCorps members played a large role in making it all happen. Several members helped to decorate the tables and room where more than 200 community members ate breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day while listening to a broadcast of Naomi Tutu’s address at the St. Paul Celebration.

MLK Weekend Food Drive (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik

AmeriCorps members collected canned and non-perishable food items throughout the weekend before MLK Day to benefit the local CHUM food shelf.

Doug-Bowen Bailey, a member of the city planning committee for MLK Day said this of AmeriCorps volunteers, “It was wonderful to have the participation of AmeriCorps volunteers both in the planning and carrying out of our weekend events. Because of their involvement, we included a food drive for the first time which turned out to be successful. So, as a committee, we are grateful for their ideas and their energy.”

United Way Book Screening (Duluth, MN) by Rebecca Haavik

After the MLK Day Marchand Rally, many volunteers gathered at the United Way to help AmeriCorps member Stephanie Thompson reach her goal of screening 20,000 books during her year of service for the Big Red Bookshelf.

She said, “I was so happy to have AmeriCorps members help screen the donated books on MLK D ay.  Without this day of service I would be really far behind.  Thanks to their two hours of work I have 1300 more books screened and ready to be delivered to children in need!”

The Big Red Bookshelf is a United Way initiative that places books on big red bookshelves throughout the city for kids and parents to take home. The goal is to increase early literacy and ensure that kids are ready to enter school.

On Monday, volunteers sorted through more than 1300 books. They taped pages, repaired bindings, cleaned covers, and gave the books a little TLC before they could be placed on the Big Red Bookshelves at locations all over the city.  Volunteers worked tirelessly until each book was ready to go.

Habitat for Humanity (Rochester) by Claire Hammer

Four National Service members from Southeastern Minnesota worked alongside other Habitat for Humanity volunteers in Rochester, Minnesota to hang ceiling drywall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This small group of volunteers spent their day “on”, working side by side with the future homeowners.

This day of service moved the completion and move in date of this family in need one day closer. National Service members, Habitat volunteers, and future Habitat homeowners contributed at least 35 volunteer hours.

Visit Habitat for Humanity’s “Day on” to see a news report about the volunteers and their efforts on MLK Day.

Thank You For Everyone’s Service And Support!