Public Spirit, June 2013, The Farewell Edition

A Farewell

Our dear AmeriCorps enthusiasts, this Public Spirit will be the final one produced by the 2012-2013 ICC. Of course, there will be a few summer updates produced by an ICC Transition Team, and there will be more Public Spirit to come from next year’s ICC, but this edition is a farewell for this group. It has been a lovely year. Many of us entered into the ICC experience very blindly—what this organization was, what its goals and values were, and how its committees operated was a mystery to us. That’s what made this past year so special. What we became is the result of what we made of ourselves—and we set the bar high for next year to do the same! You may read more about our awesome year in the ICC Recap of the Year article. Most importantly, this year was one in which ICC members became friends who share similar interests and each have inspiring service stories. Some of these friends are featured in the Feature Goodbye: VISTA Leader Exit Interviews. And of course, the ICC would have been sorely lacking direction without our great President, Andrew Peterson. In An End-of-the-Year Interview with the President, you can read what Andrew has to say about this year’s ICC, and what he hopes for next year’s group. But hey, this feeling of closure should not eclipse the future of the ICC. Check out the Updates section to learn about early Fall service events, such as the 9/11 Day of Service, as well as the current information about applying to be part of the ICC next year. 

On behalf of the ICC, CoCo would like to thank all of you dear readers for your continued support of the ICC’s mission and activities. Good luck to you, in whatever lies ahead! As for us current members, it’s time to go. 

Updates

Interested in the ICC? Do you know some friends in service who might be? 

Serving on the ICC has been a great experience for most if this year’s members. We have accomplished much and we hope that the ICC continues this progress into next year. That’s where you come in. This year’s committees have put together materials to hand off to new members, but for those materials to have any purpose, we need a large pool of motivated service members. The experiences, both social and professionally beneficial, will be well worth the time you put into the ICC. The application process is roughly planned as follows: applications will come out in August or September—applications would be due in late September—selection of members, along with a mandatory orientation, would occur in early October. For any questions at any point in the processes, please email info@iccminnesota.org. Keep this on your radar! 

Stay tuned for service projects in early Fall! Details to come in August. 

This year’s ICC has created a Summer/Fall service project task force. This entity, along with a communications representative, will keep you informed about one of the most significant service events of the service year: the 9/11 Day of Service. Stay tuned in the first week of August for updates and volunteer sign-up options. If you have any questions, please email info@iccminnesota.org. 

 
ICC Recap of the Year: Activities and Impact At A Glance

Time flies by when you’re accomplishing great things! It has been such an amazing year for the InterCorps Council with many new endeavors and accomplishments from all of our committees. Read on below for a brief recap of all the achievements of our committees this year.

Social and Networking Committee (SoNet)

The Social and Networking Committee took things to the max this year by adding social hours to all service and training events, which provided AmeriCorps members not only an opportunity to serve and develop professionally, but also to network among their group of peers who are also doing very similar work. Overall, SoNet hosted 17 events this year with almost 330 attendees. SoNet’s largest event this year was Looking Forward, Moving Forward: AmeriCorps Career and Education Fair which had over 175 participants.

As part of AmeriCorps Week this year, SoNet partnered with AmeriCorps Alums to bring a job mentorship program to AmeriCorps and VISTA members. AmeriCorps members were paired with an AmeriCorps alum or nonprofit professional to work on resume building and interview skills to help the member transition into life after their term of service.

Communications Committee (CoCo)

In addition to promoting upcoming opportunities/events through social media and posters, Communications Committee mainly focuses on publishing Public Spiritthe official newsletter of the ICC. The newsletter covers topics ranging from highlighting interesting service sites, to thoughtful service reflections, and AmeriCorps living tips. This year, CoCo revampedPublic Spirit by allowing readers the option of subscribing to receive the newsletter straight to their inbox. Although the subscription option was just launched this January, Public Spirit has acquired over 175 subscribers with readers in 21 different states. The newsletter has even been opened in Great Britain, France, and Ireland!

Training and Education Committee (T.Ed.)

The Training and Education Committee hosted 8 trainings with almost 190 participants attending, in total. Highlights from this year include two grant-writing workshops, a workshop on developing leadership skills (led by former U of M athletic director, Joel Maturi), and a series of professional development trainings on various topics, such as effective use of social media, budgeting, and how the criminal justice system works. Many of these trainings occurred as part of SuperCharge Your Service, a jam-packed training day that was one of the flagship events of AmeriCorps Week 2013. This special day also featured former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson as the keynote speaker. Participants felt very fortunate to hear Justice Anderson’s words of wisdom. Overall, more than 80% of members reported satisfaction with the quality of the sessions presented at SuperCharge Your Service. Last but not least, T.Ed., along with the Executive Committee, has worked hard to make trainings and professional development opportunities more accessible to AmeriCorps and VISTA members by uploading videos of the trainings to the ICC website.

Service Committee (Service)

With events such as MLK Day of Service, AmeriCorps Week service days, and May Day of Service, the Service Committee has taken the term service to another level. All told, ServiceCommittee organized 30 service projects in 9 different cities, with over 240 volunteers participating this year. For MLK Day of Service, volunteers packaged almost 47,000 meals for those who needed food assistance, sorted over $16,000 worth of merchandise to support ARC and Goodwill Easter Seals, and cleaned, painted, or improved emergency low-income housing throughout the Twin Cities. Additionally, theDodging Hunger Dodgeball Tournament, a fun and productive food drive that Service coordinated in collaboration with SoNet, raised almost 200 pounds of nonperishable food items for the Neighborhood House during AmeriCorps Week. If the numbers don’t speak for themselves, AmeriCorps members offered much positive feedback regarding these events. Rebecca Edmunds, an AmeriCorps member who served as a site lead at a Habitat project for MLK Day of Service, said of her experience,“I appreciated that we were able to see real progress with our process. It was nice to step back at the end of our shift and to have that tangible evidence. I think that was especially powerful because we get so little tangible evidence of progress in our daily work.”

Executive Committee (Exec.)

As a planning and oversight committee, the Executive Committee seems a bit on the quieter side of the committees. But don’t let this impression fool you—Exec. has been hard at work and involved in all aspects of the ICC all year, from collaborating with CoCo for Public Spirit articles, to building relationships with the Corporation for National and Community Service, to networking with external partners, and connecting the Metro-area ICC with out-state members, such as Corps groups in Duluth and St. Cloud. Additionally, Exec. was crucial in helping ICC committees collaborate and cohere on group projects. All of the committees share a heart-felt thank you to Exec. members for their strong leadership and support!

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Looking back on the year, it has been one of astounding accomplishments and great achievements. Great work, InterCorps Council of Minnesota! The bar is high for next year’s Council! 

A Feature Goodbye:

VISTA Leader Exit Interviews

The 2012-2013 MN VISTA Leaders - Top row, left to right: Claire Hammer, Laura Linder-Scholer, Angie Brown, Amanda Mangan, and Amanda Scherer. Bottom row, left to right: Maggie Hendrickson, Anna Preus, and Jessica Zimmerman

The 2012-2013 MN VISTA Leaders - Top row, left to right: Claire Hammer, Laura Linder-Scholer, Angie Brown, Amanda Mangan, and Amanda Scherer. Bottom row, left to right: Maggie Hendrickson, Anna Preus, and Jessica Zimmerman

 

Angie Brown – City of St. Paul

  • What’s next for you? I will work as the Program Associate at Nexus Community Partners, assisting with the implementation of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute for the Twin Cities.
  • What’s one thing you’ve taken away from your national service experience? A year as a VISTA Leader is an incredible way to learn and build a network base. I took advantage of every opportunity I could; I met community organizers, policy-makers and people working in education and nonprofits, and it led to me knowing about some of the key racial and social equity initiatives happening in the Twin Cities.
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give to current or incoming service members? See the opportunity, but acknowledge your privilege. Use your service as an opportunity to listen. Be open-minded and take advantage of trainings. Reflect. Make change in your personal life to reflect the change you want to see in this country and globally.

 Claire Hammer – Habitat for Humanity of MN

  • What’s next for you? Enjoying life 24/7 this summer and then going to the University of Minnesota to get my Master’s of Social Work degree, which will help me get to my dream of becoming an international adoption agent!
  • One thing you’ve taken away? National service has taught me to be a stronger voice for those living in poverty. I no longer sit quietly while friends or acquaintances look down on those in need. VISTA has given me the language and knowledge to discuss poverty openly and the passion to speak up.
  • Advice? Be patient. Being a VISTA is difficult at times. You have no executive power, but you hold an abundance of knowledge on certain subjects. Be patient, be clear and be professional, and the best decisions and changes can be made in time.

 Maggie Hendrickson – Minnesota Campus Compact

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  • What’s next for you? A job in health and wellness, human resources or a mix of both!
  • One thing you’ve taken away? The array of skills I’m taking away from my service experience includes skills I feel I would never have developed in just two years of doing anything else.
  • Advice? Use your service to gain as much experience as possible and meet as many people as possible; it benefits you (personally and professionally) as well as those you are serving.

Laura Linder-Scholer – Minnesota Literacy Council

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  • What’s next for you? An English Master’s program at Marquette University. I’m looking forward to reading, writing, teaching, exploring a new city and seeking out new service opportunities!
  • One thing you’ve taken away? For everything around us that seems broken or insurmountable, there are so many incredible people doing what they can to create change, inspire others, fight injustices and give back. These are the people that give me energy and hope.
  • Advice? Surround yourself with people who believe in the work that you’re doing, will challenge you to keep growing and learning, can support you when you need energy or motivation and help affirm your belief in the value of service and the good of this world.

Amanda Mangan – Habitat for Humanity of MN

  • What’s next for you? I’m headed to Hamline University School of Law this fall.
  • One thing you’ve taken away? My experience has taught me that connecting people and providing the right resources is sometimes all it takes to make a difference.
  • Advice? Take time to really immerse yourself in the community you are serving. Volunteer. Attend community events. Meet lots of great people. You may be making a small impact on the community during your service but at the same time the community can make a big impact on you.

Anna Preus – Minnesota Literacy Council

  • What’s next for you? Who knows?
  • One thing you’ve taken away? I have learned how much can be accomplished when people work together, even when resources are scarce.
  • Advice? Don’t ever forget to celebrate the small victories.

 Amanda Scherer – St. Paul Public Schools Foundation

  • What’s next for you? I don’t exactly know yet, but I’m looking at higher education, alumni affairs and development. Fundraising is my passion.
  • One thing you’ve taken away? It’s an amazing responsibility and privilege to empower people to build their capacity to connect with others, and to make the connection between resources and needs.
  • Advice? Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or your project. Even though it’s daunting, you were hired for a reason!

 Jessica Zimmerman – The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN

  • What’s next for you? I am crossing my fingers in hopes of a salaried position at an awesome organization!
  • One thing you’ve taken away? I read this quote by Laura Moskins on the label of my Kombucha bottle yesterday and it was very reflective of what I’ve learned during my time in national service: “Remember: It is everyone’s first time at ‘Today’.”
  • Advice? Make sure you don’t forget how your project fits into the larger picture, and that your work does have an effect on both individuals and the greater community.

 

An End-of-the-Year Interview with the President (of the ICC)

What is your favorite part of the ICC this year?

I am absolutely inspired by seeing all of these service members, who are so incredibly busy with their own site projects and personal lives, give an extra 5, 10, or even 15 hours a week to create this service-based group. Seeing the extra mile people go is ridiculously inspiring. We live in a culture that is focused on “me,” and the work that ICC members do just gives me hope that there are a lot of good people out there who are more concerned about serving others over themselves. Seeing our little community grow and thrive has been my favorite part of the ICC. It is very hopeful.

 What do you hope to see next year’s ICC accomplish? 

I really hope that we can be part of the upcoming space race. Specifically, the mission to Mars.This is a key goal for humanity, and personally, I would like to see it happen before I die. More importantly, I think we should all be a part of it. We should come together to be part of this inter-planetary exploration. 

What do you see as the greatest benefit of being part of the ICC? 

Mostly, it is the active proof of how people can come together, knowing that they are doing something to enrich the service year of fellow AmeriCorps members. Members volunteer their time with other members who volunteer their time, all for the unifying purpose of giving AmeriCorps members opportunities to connect and serve Minnesota even more. It is very encouraging. Also, some service members work at sites where they cannot directly see the results of their work. Many ICC service projects, such as reconstructing a house for Habitat for Humanity or stocking food shelves, have a very visual impact. Members can serve together and see their work go towards something positive. 

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the ICC next year? 

Global warming.

Not really. More seriously, communication between committees is one challenge that each new ICC group faces. The ICC will need to very purposefully foster communications between committees, and it may be helpful for next year’s Exec. committee to work with committees to create a collaboration plan. Another challenge that is pretty laid out for next year’s ICC is that of figuring out how to get out-state members involved in the ICC. This year we made great strides towards getting the Duluth AmeriCorps members involved in AmeriCorps Week and service events throughout the year. Next year’s ICC will need to either get out to visit non-Metro groups or find ways to include out-state members in what’s happening in the Twin Cities. One project that next year’s ICC could develop would be helping to form ICC-like committees around AmeriCorps population centers throughout Minnesota (these would be in cities like St. Cloud, Mankato, Duluth, and Morehead). 

Any words of encouragement for this year’s service cohort for moving forward in life? 

Our service years have taught us more than we know, especially more than we may realize at this time. Many people describe their AmeriCorps service as a pre-professional development opportunity, but I hope that you will continue to draw on this experience as a real-life experience, and not just a step on the ladder. What you worked on this year—the community you helped and population you became familiar with—was real. 

What are you looking forward to this summer? 

Where should I begin?! I will be going to Colorado for a week, Madison, WI for a weekend, and directly after this service year my friends and I will be making a trip to Glacier National Park. We want to see the glaciers before they melt.