Public Spirit April 2012

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

  • Upcoming Events Calendar
  • AmeriCorps Member Spotlight Brett Cease, GreenCorps
  • AmeriCorps Week In Review
    • Letter from the President
    • Dodging Hunger Dodgeball Tournament (Saint Paul, MN)
    • Feed My Starving Children (Coon Rapids, MN)
    • Communitas (Roseville, MN)
    • Second Harvest Heartland (Minneapolis, MN)

Upcoming Events Calendar

Project Homeless Connect: May 14, 2012 (click to sign up)

Day of Outdoor Service, Gardening Project: May 18-19, 2012 (click to sign up)

  • The purpose of the event is to prepare for the Spring planting season, planting, or doing landscaping/outdoor work.

AmeriCorps Member Spotlight

Brett Cease, GreenCorps  by Riley Lindberg

After graduating from high school in Bemidji, Brett Cease was certain that finding success meant moving away from the small town in northern Minnesota. But after eight busy years away, during which he attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis and worked at an adventure camp called Camp Amnicon, Brett was excited to return home.

“I happily moved back home to be close to family and give back to a community that has given me so much.”

After moving back to Bemidji, Brett worked as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional for several local expeditionary charter schools. But was soon offered the opportunity to fulfill one desire he had long had: serving in AmeriCorps.

“I had always hoped to have the chance to serve as an AmeriCorps member. The national program is such a bedrock of community service and civic engagement for our country. When I heard about the Minnesota GreenCorps through my current supervisor and that a position was being offered here in Bemidji, I knew I had found a perfect match.”

Brett now serves in the Bemidji State University Sustainability Office and is able to use his passion for educating about sustainability in numerous projects. There is so much going on that Brett says there is no such thing as a typical day at his site.

“I am helping coordinate the MN GreenStep Cities framework in our city within our sustainability committee. I also co-plan a very popular weekly sustainability focused community education forum with the Indigenous Environmental Network here in town.  Couple in a variety of projects with local schools and their waste reduction efforts, coordinating community garden participation, an upcoming watershed survey and the many engaging activities Bemidji State’s Sustainability Office creates, and every day is bursting with chances to spread sustainability.”

When he finishes his service with AmeriCorps, Brett plans to complete his licensure in secondary Social Studies, which includes a term student teaching in New Zealand. He also has advice for those thinking about joining AmeriCorps.

“If, in your heart, you feel drawn to an AmeriCorps program, do not hesitate to follow that yearning! With so many different programs available in so many relevant areas of community service, AmeriCorps is a wonderful match for almost anyone interested in devoting a year of their lives in public service and be infinitely rewarded as a result.”

For more information about Brett’s service site, visit http://greenlivingbemidji.areavoices.com/

AmeriCorps Week In Review

Letter From The President

By Ashley Laflin

To celebrate AmeriCorps Week 2012, The InterCorps Council of Minnesota organized a variety of events throughout the state.

AmeriCorps members kicked off the week on March 10th at Dodging Hunger Dodgeball Tournament, a tournament that raised 210 pounds of food for Neighborhood  House food shelf in Saint Paul.

On Monday, March 12th, nearly 190 AmeriCorps members and community volunteers joined together for the annual AmeriCorps Week Day of Service and contributed approximately 555 hours of service to support 29 community organizations in the following cities across Minnesota:  Albert Lea, Bemidji, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Mankato, Moorhead, Northfield, Rochester, St. Cloud and Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.

Nearly 115 AmeriCorps members convened in St. Paul on March 14th for Super-Charge Your Service, an event that provided members with seven hours of free trainings on conflict resolution strategies, serving across borders, student loan repayment, financial tips for members, how to facilitate personality assessments, how to administer program evaluations and how to maximize wellness.

On Thursday, March 15th, AmeriCorps members took time to appreciate their AmeriCorps program staff and supervisors, and the ICC of MN released a video based off of AmeriCorps members’ submissions from across Minnesota (Program Staff Appreciation Video).

The InterCorps Council would like to thank everyone that made AmeriCorps Week a fantastic week – we couldn’t have done this without AmeriCorps members, AmeriCorps program staff, our sponsors and our partner organizations.

Thank you again for your support and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!

Dodging Hunger Dodgeball Tournament

By Ryan Kierczynski

The first ever Dodging Hunger Dodgeball Tournament was held on March 11th, 2012, during AmeriCorps Week.  Over sixty national service members from nine programs across Minnesota participated, collecting over 200 pounds of canned goods that were donated to the Neighborhood House Food Shelf.

Some of the highlights of the day were:an epic matchup that pitted Rah-Rah-Rah (Reading Corps) against The Sphere Slingers (MathCorps); a 4-on-1 valiant effort made by Mean Corps (Green Corps) during their match with Tutordactyls (Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation VISTA Program); and a championship rematch between the Tutordactyls and the Litovators (Minnesota Literacy Council VISTA Program).

Having had to play two additional matches to make it to the finals, the Litovators put up a tough fight, but, ultimately, the Tutordactyls emerged as victors in the championship game.

The Social and Networking Committee and the ICC of MN would like to thank Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Mississippi Market, Target, Panera Bread, McDonalds, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Children’s Museum for their donations of materials and space for the event.  We would also like to thank everyone who came out and participated!

Please keep your eye our for additional Social and Networking opportunities that will be taking place this summer!

Feed My Starving Children (Coon Rapids, Minnesota)

By Kelly Bresin

Feed My Starving Children is a nonprofit organization that sends food around the world to over 70 countries. During AmeriCorps week, seven members alongside other volunteers helped pack 89 boxes of uncooked food to be sent out to feed children in need.

What was packed was a specially formulated meal that helps restore the effects of malnourishment. These packs consisted of chicken flavoring, soy, veggies and rice and are called “mana packs”. The site leader said that the amount of food packed that shift made 19,224 meals, an amount that can feed 53 children for an entire year.

It took only two hours for a group of people to make a major impact on the lives of many children. Feed My Starving Children is always looking for more volunteers to make a difference. You can volunteer by signing up on their website: http://www.fmsc.org/

Communitas (Roseville, MN)

By Hannah Tutt

“I had an awesome time volunteering on AmeriCorps Day! It was really fun to get away from my site for a couple of hours and hang out with some other AmeriCorps members, and be outside in the fresh air. My group did a few different things over our two hours at Communitas.

“I primarily worked on landscaping and hauled a lot of mulch out to various gardens on the property. It was fun to have a job where you see results immediately, and the gardens looked so much better when we were done!”

 Second Harvest Heartland (Minneapolis Service Center)

By Alana Stimes

Over 25 volunteers gathered at 9am that morning for a brief overview of SHH’s programming and focus areas, and form then it was off to the warehouse area to package food items.  One group focused primarily on packaging canned beans into boxes and another tackled a huge bin full of rice. Volunteers organized themselves into an assembly line, making the food-packaging process streamlined and efficient, while chatting with one another and listening to music.

At the end of the 3 hour shift, the group had packaged over 1,400 pounds of rice and over 1 ton of beans to be distributed to food shelves, shelters, and soup kitchens across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.  A big thank you to all the volunteers for lending a helping hand and to Second Harvest for providing such a great opportunity!

(Note that the Minneapolis location has since relocated to Golden Valley).