Public Spirit, February 2014

In this Issue:

Recap: MLK Weekend of Service

Tips for Avoiding Winter Burnout

Non-Profit Career Exploration Exercise

Must Read

Must Click

 

Recap: MLK Weekend of Service

Last month the ICC put together a Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend of service to honor the memory of Dr. King. In the January issue of Public Spirit we told you about some of the amazing opportunities you had to join us in volunteering and this month we have the updates and the results. It was a great weekend with a record number of hours volunteered across the state.

Here’s the breakdown:

• 181 volunteers participated in ICC-sponsored activities

• 167 of those volunteers were part of an AmeriCorps program

• Volunteers served a total of 768 hours

The sites included four service areas:

• Education Services

• Economic Opportunity

• Food Access

• Disability and Health Services

The ICC also provided opportunities both in the metro area and across the state, including sites in New Hope, St. Cloud, South St. Paul, Mankato, Chanhassen, Duluth, Marshall, Cottage Grove, Brooklyn Center, and Eagan. We’re grateful to all the AmeriCorps members who participated and look forward to an even better turnout next year.

 

Tips for Avoiding Winter Burnout

By Alexis Towlerton

If there is a time of year that is more difficult than others to stay positive, winter is it for most. In Minnesota, this winter has made it more than a rough go at trying to stay chipper. Below are a couple of tools and reminders to help realign your attitude when the mercury drops.

Today it can seem like we are almost too connected. Many of us are kept constantly a swipe away from our inbox, turmoil from around the world, or the next big thing. Solution? Do absolutely nothing for a few moments. This doesn’t mean collapse on the couch at the end of a bad day thinking about what went wrong and what’s left to be done. But you can try shutting down yourself for a short while before you restart. Find whatever fosters a calm environment for you and do that at least once a week, working up to fitting it into your daily routine. A clear mind will do wonders for that pending to do list and life decisions.

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Make a point to spend time outside every day. Yes, everyday, and not just to go from point A to B, but instead take a couple moments to yourself with a simple walk around the block or a game of fetch with the dog. Some days frostbite is a serious concern so keep the outing brief when necessary. Once your extremities are safe in the warmth of your home your mind will be thanking you for those breaths of fresh frozen air.

Refocus on the work you’re doing, and the people you’re serving. This will likely take you back to the core motives that moved you to become involved in the first place. When all your friends in the for-profit world are working for promotions and raises it can feel like you’re dragging your feet in this line of work. In reality you are doing some of the most important work in this state – helping others to better themselves and communities. Remind yourself of this often.

Reach out to those in the same position. AmeriCorps is a huge network of inspiring individuals who fall into nearly every stage on the personal and professional development spectrum. If you’re feeling stuck or wondering what is next these are the best mentors an AmeriCorps member can hope for. What you’re experiencing in your year of service is unique to you, but there is likely someone out there who can either relate, commiserate, or help to instigate your next endeavor.

Get into a habit of committing random acts of kindness.Unsurprisingly, doing something to perk up someone’s day will without a doubt perk up your own. Whether you pick a day of the week or a week each month, create an internal schedule to surprise others with kindness. Before you know it you’ll be in a nice rhythm of giving and doing good deeds, something that is sure to be noticed and hopefully repeated.

Burnout in the nonprofit sector is a real concern, so make it a priority to take care of yourself amidst all you do for others. When you mix in the high potential for seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) in the conditions we live in it becomes even more vital to pay attention. When all else seems to fail, break away from the goal of less screen time and pull up the funniest thing you’ve seen online. If you’re like me you already have it bookmarked for those moments when you just can’t possibly proceed without a good laugh.  

 

Non-Profit Career Exploration Exercise

If you’re searching for what to do after your AmeriCorps service is up, here’s a great place to start discovering what career might be good for you.

http://idealistcareers.org/the-career-tracks-exercise/

 

Must Read

 

Articles, studies and stories pertaining to AmeriCorps members’ work

 

This article briefly examines three approaches to improving public school children’s performance.http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/how-public-schools-can-fight-back-against-inequality/283669/

In the spirit of love, here are a few suggestions for making conversation with your fellow AmeriCorps members.http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/52-hilarious-activistpickuplines-for-valentines-day

A national conversation about school lunch fees was sparked by reports of children’s lunches being discarded in Utah. This article highlights one school’s practices. http://www.inquisitr.com/1115242/utah-school-lunch-controversy-food-dumped-into-garbage-for-kids-with-unpaid-bills/

 

Must click

Helpful links for illustrating the impact of poverty in your area and creative initiatives to combat it!

This map shows the impact of location on Twin Cities residents’ life expectancies. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/03/news/twin-cities-life-expectancy-map

This map allows users to view food insecurity data broken out by each U.S. county. http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/map-the-meal-gap.aspx

Click here to learn more about Art Buddies, a unique Minneapolis initiative that uses skilled volunteers to help children build creativity, leadership skills and confidence. http://bepollen.com/pollen/an-illustrated-guide-to-art-buddies-by-taylor-baldry.html

Feeling down after another Valentine’s Day of no chocolate, the wrong kind of chocolate, or too much chocolate? Warm your heart by reading about Cookie Cart, a bakery that helps adolescents develop job skills. http://cookiecart.org/