Public Spirit March 2011

What you’ll find in this month’s edition

  • Hunger Heroes Wanted for AC Week 2011!
  • Gardening Matters–Volunteers needed!
  • Flat AmeriCorps Member
  • Project Homeless Connect
  • Five Steps to Network your way from AmeriCorps to a Career
  • Follow the Leader–Five Questions with Armando Camacho

Hunger Heroes Wanted For AC Week 2011!

Busy at your site during AmeriCorps Week 2011 (May 14-21)?  Develop your own service project in your community to fight hunger.  The ICC of MN invites you to be a Hunger Hero for a day during AmeriCorps Week 2011!

Who: AmeriCorps members interested in organizing service opportunities in their communities

What: Hunger Heroes, an updated toolkit for planning AmeriCorps Week food drives and service events

Where: Across the state of Minnesota, as part of the National AmeriCorps Week celebration

When: AmeriCorps Week 2011, May 14-21

Why: AmeriCorps members will have an even greater impact on the state, will empower community members to serve, and will educate the public about the benefits of AmeriCorps and National Service.

A Hunger Hero Toolkit is attached at the bottom of this page.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Read more about how AmeriCorps members became Hunger Heroes during MLK Day 2011 HERE!

Gardening Matters–Volunteers Needed!

Spring Garden Resource Fair at Gardening Matters!

Volunteers play a key role in the success of this exciting event. This annual “hoe-down” includes a keynote presentation and 15 workshops ranging in topics from “Growing Abundantly” to “Organizing your Garden Community.” Please consider volunteering to be part of the team for one or more shifts! Volunteers can sign up for Friday afternoon set-up, Saturday morning (8am-10am or 10am-Noon) or Saturday afternoon shifts (Noon-2pm and 2-4pm).  A flier regarding this event is attached at the bottom of this webpage.  For more information about Gardening Matters, check out their website:

Volunteers are needed for the following responsibilities:

Fair Set-up (Friday afternoon and/or Saturday morning)

Help with the set up of tables, chairs, and other physical items.

Hall Directors/Floaters

Direct attendees to workshop rooms while people are moving between sessions.

Workshop Set-up

Run equipment (projectors, easel pads) from different workshop rooms, check in with presenter and notify staff if anything is missing.

Greeter Table

Greet people, register them or check them off the registration list, answer general questions.

Banquet Room Attendants

Assist with set-up and clean-up of meals.

Zero-Waste volunteers for lunchtime

Help diners during lunchtime to place plates and food scraps in appropriate zero-waste compost bins

Clean Up

Final clean-up of all rooms, including workshop rooms, banquet hall, and check-in area.

To sign up to volunteer, please email Nadja at with the time slots you are available. If you have a preference for job duties, please let us know, although we ask volunteers to be flexible in their assignments.

Volunteers will have the opportunity attend workshops when their volunteer duties are completed!

Flat AmeriCorps Member

Did you ever want to travel the state to learn about other AmeriCorps members service and sites? Well now you can with the help of the Flat AmeriCorps Members: Day in the Life Project. The ICC of MN Social and Networking Committee has created four animal AmeriCorps members to travel the state on your behalf. The Flat AmeriCorps Members will go through the day in the life of an AmeriCorps member following them as the go about their service. The AmeriCorps member will take pictures and write up a blog that will be sent to the ICC to post on Flat AmeriCorps blog as well as highlighted on the ICC’s Facebook and Twitter. AmeriCorps members from around the state can then see what different programs do every day and where the flat AmeriCorps member has been. All AmeriCorps members are encouraged to participate and pass on the member to AmeriCorps members that they know in MN. Please have fun with the member but keep in mind the AmeriCorps photo policies.

Follow the Flat AmeriCorps members at , Facebook, and Twitter!

Project Homeless Connect

The Homeless Coalition in St. Cloud is organizing a Project Homeless Connect in St. Cloud at St. Cloud State University on Monday, April 4, from 9am-3pm.  This past fall, AmeriCorps members from the Twin Cities metro area joined forces and volunteered en masse at the PHC at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  This is an excellent opportunity for AmeriCorps members from Greater Minnesota to come together, volunteer and network with one another.

300 volunteers are needed to make this event successful!  Volunteers will help set up, provide child care, serve food, direct clients, perform registration/check-in, and more. All volunteers (excluding the set up crew and the take down crew) will be asked to attend a volunteer training.  The training options are:

Thursday, March 31:

2-3 Tri-CAP Board room

6-7 PM SCSU Atwood Ballroom

Friday, April 1:

2-3 Tri-CAP Board room

6-7 PM SCSU Glacier South


We ask that you attend one training session.

Sara Schoborg, the Tri-Cap Intern is coordinating this event.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact her at  (320) 257-4530 or  Annie Reinhart, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader serving in Little Falls will be coordinating a networking/reflection time that afternoon, after the event.  If you are interested in participating in the reflection and networking event, please contact Annie at

Five Steps To Network Your Way From AmeriCorps To A Career

One reason people choose to serve in AmeriCorps is to gain real-world experience that will propel their careers forward. You can do this by network throughout your service year. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be headed to a full-time job in no time.

1.Build your network: You know all those volunteers you worked with? AmeriCorps members you met at PSO, ICC events, Corps Days, and trainings? Staff from your agency?  What about those community partners? Connect with them, both during and after your year of service to build your professional network. So how do you keep up with all these people, especially after your term has ended? You can….

2LinkedIn: Social Networking for Professionals: Join LinkedIn. If you haven’t already heard of LinkedIn, it’s a Social Networking site designed specifically for professionals. Create a profile, keep it updated and add connections as you meet people. Just like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is about connecting with others, so make sure that you communicate with your groups and connections. For more information on using LinkedIn, check out this blog post (

 3. Attend Networking Events: If you’re looking to continue in the nonprofit world, attend networking events through Minnesota Council of Nonprofits ( or Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Twin Cities ( My number one tip for networking? Bring a friend! For more tips on making the most of networking events, check out YNPC-TC’s blog posts, including how to network as an introvert (

4. Informational Interviews: Asking for informational interviews may seem daunting, but it’s one of the most valuable things you can do this year! Not sure who to talk to? Ask people in your network (remember #1?) for recommendations. Last advice: don’t forget to prepare for the information interview. Learn how to master the informational interview with this New York Times blog post (

5. Connect to other AmeriCorps members and Alums: This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s probably the most important. There are over 2,000 AmeriCorps State, National and VISTA members in Minnesota, and over half a million AmeriCorps Alums in the nation. How’s that for an automatic network? So how do you connect with current members and alums? Attend ICC MN events, participate in Service days, and generally let people know you’re an AmeriCorps member. You never know who else around you has served, and where that can take you.

Follow The Leader–Five Questions With Armando Camacho

Each month the InterCorps Council will bring you five questions with a leader in the non-profit sector in Minnesota.  This month we ask five questions to Armando Camacho, president of Neighborhood House.  Founded in 1897 on the West Side of St Paul, Neighborhood House is a multi-cultural center with programs in education, youth leadership, and basic needs.  Neighborhood House’s mission is to help people, families, and organizations develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to thrive in diverse communities.

Where has your journey to the position of ‘leader’ taken you, and how did you get there?

“It’s taken me to be the President of Neighborhood House, the most recent stopping point of my journey.  Like most careers, my career has been built on steps that have allowed me to learn a new skill set or have allowed me to succeed at a certain level which then in turn means that I can take on a bigger challenge.  That’s how our society operates, you build, you go from one step to the next.  For me it was a nontraditional route, because I used to be a teacher, then an assistant principal, then principal, then a district administrator, and now I’m a non-profit president.  That’s not a typical route in the non-profit field; I don’t have any specific training in non-profit management or leadership.  But a good friend of mine always told me that leadership is leadership, it doesn’t matter what sector it’s in.  If you feel you have the ability to lead, then you’ll be able to motivate and coach and inspire people. Those skills that you might not have, those technical ones …you can learn those on the job.  That’s my path and my future is still to be written, of course.  I’m thirty seven years old and I’ll be working for a long, long time, so I need to be sure I’m working for an organization that I’m passionate about and Neighborhood House for now is that place.”

What tips would you give to an AmeriCorps member looking to become a leader at their site?

“Look at where you can have an impact at that organization. It might be large impact, it might be a small impact, it might be an impact that you don’t even know you’re making, but to try to leave that organization a better place than what you found it.  You can look at a year and say that you’ll move on, or you can say ‘you know what, I’m doing my year but when I look back on this I want to be able to point to a few concrete examples of how I’ve made this place a better organization’. It’s very tough, I realize, as an AmeriCorps member, but you have to take the initiative and have those difficult discussions and really look at where you can do something that is going to be meaningful to the organization long after you’re gone.”

How does one lead when times are tough?

“Often what I hear in the non-profit sector is that when you ask someone how things are going they start with a long list of complaints.  Legitimate complaints and concerns.  You rarely hear people say why things are good, meaning that we have to as leaders be the hope for the people that work for you, the ones that offer hope for the people that we serve.  That’s very difficult when things are very negative, when you hear of different things happening in the world.  We have to be not just surviving but thriving.  I feel that we are thriving during this recession.  We looked at this recession as an opportunity to really market this organization and the services we provide to the greater community and also to our participants of why we’re relevant more than ever during this recession.  So in my mind, the leader has to provide hope and inspiration to the staff and to the participants most importantly, of course, because they’re coming to us with very little hope.  We have to look at the bright spots – and the bright spot during this recession is that there are still a lot of people out there with resources to help the poor and we have to go out there and find them.  Just because we’re a non profit doesn’t mean that people are going to knock on our doors asking to give their money to us; we have to go out there and actively seek it.  It’s about being more proactive as a leader, but basically it’s about providing hope to people. It doesn’t mean you have to diminish the challenges – you can still talk about those challenges – but also talk about those opportunities that are presented during these tough times.”

Who have you looked up to as a leader in your life, and what lessons have you learned from him or her?

“I look up to a lot of people … people that aren’t necessarily in leadership positions in terms of being CEO or President or Executive Director of an organization.  Each and every day I watch our own staff, people that I respect, going about their work, and I love looking at leaders at all levels of the organization.  People that do have the title of leader …I like to watch and see how they handle situations and how they carry themselves and I found that in my career that there are certain characteristics that strong leaders have.  A lot of that is being authentic –who you see behind a closed door is who you get behind a podium.  Often that’s not the case.  Someone makes a great speech, says the right words, but behind the scenes they treat people in a different way, and those people go tell other people, and all of sudden everyone in the organization knows that there’s a disconnect.  So I like to watch people and how they handle themselves and how they go about their decision making and how they go about promoting their organization and I just take different bits and pieces from them and try to learn from that as best as I can.  I still make mistakes everyday – there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t make a mistake but I try to learn from them.”

What advice would you give to someone seeking a position in the non-profit sector?

“It’s about three things: relationships, relationships, relationships.  You can’t stay in a cocoon.  It doesn’t mean you have to go on Facebook and start sending your bosses requests.  I highly recommend LinkedIn; it’s a professional way to network that won’t get you in trouble.  LinkedIn is a good area to start from the technology end but don’t forget the personal phone call.  Take time to meet with people who are going to be able to talk about your work ethic and you ability to do your job.  At the end of the day it’s going to be a call from an executive director or your boss to another person that might be looking to hire you that’s going to make the difference.  It’s going back to that old fashioned way of marketing yourself, not just on LinkedIn, not just on Facebook, not just by texting and e-mail, not by any electronic means. Combine those with face-to-face interactions.  Somehow get those networks going so that all of a sudden, if you’re a young AmeriCorps person and you don’t have a lot of resume behind your name, you’ll have an advantage because you’ve done certain things during your time as an AmeriCorps member that someone’s going to really want and will want to mentor and coach you in your organization.  It’s about marketing yourself and connecting with people.  That’s my best advice.  And learn what’s stands out about you, why a company should they hire you when there are 60 to 80 other applicants they could hire.  It’s very competitive, but I think we have to sell ourselves in a way that’s respectful, in a way that is really going to leave that hiring manager saying “wow, I need to have him or her here”.  Look for jobs that are going to build upon your skill set – it might not be an ideal job but look at it in terms of what you’d gain from doing that job.  Sometimes we have to take jobs that are not going to be as attractive. Things change as you get older and enter different stages of your life, but hopefully every job that you have is another step to providing a skill set that’s going to help you get that next job.”

Find out more about Neighborhood House here!