AmeriCorps Week: Impact Stories!

In honor of AmeriCorps Week, we wanted to share the impact our JV AmeriCorps members are making on the communities they serve! Around 120 of our JV AmeriCorps members are completing two or more capacity building projects throughout this service year. These projects address organizational gaps and enhance the quality and scope of services to address local priorities, primarily in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence, and at-risk youth, as well as disaster/emergency services, the environment, mental and behavioral health, disability, legal services, and others.

JV AmeriCorps member Brian Thurow (Hays, MT ’15-16, Juneau, AK ’16-17) serves as the JCAP Program Specialist at Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Inc. Below is a description of his capacity building project,  Men Choose Respect Curriculum Implementation.

“My capacity building project involves the implementation of a new curriculum for the Juneau Choice and Accountability Program (JCAP), a state-certified Batterer Intervention Program operated by AWARE. JCAP is transitioning away from a crisis intervention program model to a more prevention-oriented program model. In an effort to better suit the needs of our participants and our community at large, JCAP will be implementing an adapted version of the Men Choose Respect curriculum.

There is a need for a curriculum that aims for systemic, community-based change to end men’s violence against women, rather than an intervention-based curriculum that addresses the violence after it has been perpetrated. The implementation of the new curriculum will be a permanent structural change to the Juneau Choice and Accountability Program. Once the new curriculum is adapted, and the new contracts and paperwork created, the resources needed to facilitate the program will be available to any new staff.”

JV AmeriCorps member Dawn Thomas (Wenatchee WA ’16-17) serves as the Community Outreach Specialist & Healthy Lifestyles Educator at Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH). Dawn’s capacity building project is called Retinal Eye Exam Flow.

“My project involved creating a flow for eye exams and communicating that flow to Primary Care Physicians, Medical Assistants, Radiology, and members of the patient services team. At the outset of this project, the percentages of CVCH’s diabetic patients that were not receiving annual retinal eye exams were fairly high. The process I helped create will hopefully begin to lower that number, by increasing communication about eye exam availability between providers and the radiology department. Establishing a process for same-day retinal exams is important for CVCH as we move forward in attempting to reach short and long-term goals for quality whole-person care for diabetic patients.

Dawn Thomas (middle) with her Wenatchee community mates

I have been able to be the point person for communicating about the schedule and helping to develop a flow that works well in order to get patients seen for their eye exams. I also conducted eye exams in the month of December, and will begin conducting them again in March onward, helping for me to see the “on the ground” work of planning, conducting, and completing these eye exams. We established a flow for same-day eye exams, getting radiology more comfortable with doing walk-ins of these just as they do for other types of exams.”

JV AmeriCorps member Tricia Tyson (Yakima, WA ’16-17) serves at the Yakima Neighborhood Health Services. Her capacity building project is called Depot Job Match.

JV AmeriCorps members Tricia Tyson (right) and Aleina Tanabe

“I planned, designed and implemented a new program to connect individuals experiencing homelessness in Yakima with employment opportunities. I meet with clients and identify barriers for employment, obtain Social Security and ID cards, and identify employment-related programs that would interest clients. I created the infrastructure for a sustainable project to hire the most vulnerable homeless in a temporary, transitional employment program in order to lay the groundwork for future employment. I find this project uniquely benefits my clients as they feel a sense of empowerment and increased self-respect as a result of working, increasing mental health and overall well-being. Fundamentally, it helps transition clients off the street and into housing by providing them a routine and source of income.”

JV AmeriCorps member Joy Macatangay (Aloha, OR ’16-17) is the Children’s Activities Coordinator for Monika’s House Shelter/Domestic Violence Resource Center. Her capacity building project is called Creation and Implementation of Trauma Informed Structure into Kid’s Club.

“A trauma informed curriculum and positive reinforcement system for Kid’s Club was developed and implemented with the Children’s Advocate at Monika’s House. The Domestic Violence Resource Center works with individuals who have experienced vast trauma in their lives. Monika’s House tries to be as trauma informed as possible and this includes the aspect of consistency.

The curriculum and positive reinforcement system were necessary in order to provide consistency for the kids. A binder has been created containing the curriculum and positive reinforcement system for Kid’s Club. It includes directions explaining the rules to go through with the kids at the beginning of each Kid’s Club, how to perform an appropriate time out, an explanation of the positive reinforcement system, the time line for Kid’s Club, and a wide variety of activities that whoever is implementing Kid’s Club can go through and choose from.

With these directions, Kid’s Club can be executed easily in the future. The program has become more trauma informed in order to better serve the clients staying at Monika’s House. It has also been improved to be more organized and clear about the proper procedures for everything with the curriculum and clear instructions outlined in the Kid’s Club binder. Because of this, the Kid’s program is running a lot smoother.”

These impact snapshots are just a few examples of the amazing service our JV AmeriCorps members provide their organizations and the communities in which they live and serve. We are proud of the hard work and determination our JV AmeriCorps members showcase each and every day. Thank you to all AmeriCorps members who are ‘getting things done’ across the country!

Save

Celebrate National Service This AmeriCorps Week

AmeriCorps Week is upon us! From March 4 – March 11, JVC Northwest and organizations across the country are showing our appreciation to current AmeriCorps members and alums, thanking our community partners, and sharing AmeriCorps’ impact on individuals, communities, and organizations throughout the country!

AmeriCorps Quick Facts

AmeriCorps, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service iheartnationalservice_120x90(CNCS), engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at 21,600 unique sites including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.4 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing more than 2.3 million volunteers for the organizations they serve.

JVC Northwest/AmeriCorps Partnership

JVC Northwest has been an AmeriCorps Direct Grantee since 2010, and we are grateful for our seven years of collaboration with the CNCS/AmeriCorps. This partnership has provided a range of benefits to our overall program:

  1. partner agencies are able to host JVs at a reduced rate
  2. our program has expanded to new communities allowing us to serve more people
  3. members face fewer barriers to service thanks to the education award received at the completion of a successful term of service, and much more!

JV AmeriCorps members serving in Billings, MT

JVC Northwest currently places 142 AmeriCorps members in 21 remote, rural, and urban economically challenged communities throughout Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Our members serve at nonprofits, schools, and community health clinics. Our program’s focus areas of service include disaster relief, economic opportunity, education, environmental advocacy and stewardship, food and hunger, and homelessness and housing.

Our JV AmeriCorps Members’ Impact

JV AmeriCorps members are a visible testimony to the power of service and actively address critical community needs. Below are some examples of our JV AmeriCorps members’ impact on communities they serve.

Aberdeen, Washington – With the service of ‘13-14 JV AmeriCorps member Jonathan Strain, Catholic Community Services of Aberdeen, WA began a Youth Works Program to connect youth to meaningful employment experiences/training. Jonathan took the program from 0 students, schools and internships to 5 schools, 16 students, and over 20 internship possibilities. Students reported overwhelmingly positive experiences, with several making plans to pursue further education and training as a result of their participation.

14-15_anchorage_nilles_redcross

American Red Cross of Alaska volunteer looks at the after effects of a wildfire

Anchorage, Alaska – During the 2014-2015 service year,  JV AmeriCorps member Anna Nilles served at the American Red Cross of Alaska in Anchorage. Throughout the service year, she responded to 50 disasters, assisting 196 individuals primarily through single family fires, a shelter created for flood victims, and an assistance center following a wildfire.

Billings, Montana –16-17 JV AmeriCorps member Haley Ehleringer serves as the School Program Specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Yellowstone County in Billings, MT. Haley is responsible for ensuring the effective delivery of the school-based mentoring program that connects 50-55 at-risk students in grades K-8 with high school mentors.

Follow the Impact & Share Our Story

JVC Northwest believes National Service is an important American value which solves local problems, unites communities and creates a generation of leaders. From March 4-11, follow our blog and AmeriCorps’ Facebook page as well as #AmeriCorpsWorks and #IamAmeriCorps on social media to learn about AmeriCorps amazing impact on members, individuals we serve, communities, and more!

JVC Northwest AmeriCorps logo

MLK Day of Service 2017

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

To commemorate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service 2017, AmeriCorps programs throughout the country participated in providing service in their communities. These are just a few of the stories of how our JV AmeriCorps members served!

JV AmeriCorps members located in Juneau walked from house to house installing smoke detectors and educating residents about house fires with the American Red Cross.

’16-17 JV AmeriCorps members in Juneau volunteering with the American Red Cross.

Alaska – JV AmeriCorps members in Juneau and Anchorage walked from house to house installing smoke detectors and educating residents on fire safety with the American Red Cross. Our Anchorage JV AmeriCorps members’ service activities were featured in the Alaska Dispatch News–  read the article here! In Bethel, JV AmeriCorps members hosted a showing of the documentary, For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska. Additionally, members created an “I have a dream” board for interested parties to disclose their dreams.

Oregon – Woodburn JV AmeriCorps members Marit Olson, Jared Harris, and Emily Curran spent the day weatherizing homes through the Community Energy Project with Hands On Greater Portland. Meanwhile, in Hood River, residents were blasted with snowy winter weather, so in response to the weather, our Hood River JV AmeriCorps members teamed up with Providence Hospital’s Volunteers in Action to shovel care receivers driveways.

In Hood River, residents were blasted with snowy winter weather! Our JV AmeriCorps members located in Hood River teamed up with Providence Hospital’s Volunteers in Action to shovel care receivers driveways!

’16-17 Hood River JV AmeriCorps members shoveling care receivers’ driveways.

Washington  The JV AmeriCorps members in Grays Harbor carried on the tradition set by last year’s JV AmeriCorps members by picking up garbage throughout the Aberdeen and Hoquiam neighborhoods. In Tacoma, a few of our JV AmeriCorps members spent their time getting their hands dirty in the garden! Blair Bellis and Benjamin Feiten volunteered at Hilltop Urban Gardens where they composted, painted signs, and prepared the gardens for spring. At L’Arche Farms, Elizabeth Nawrocki recruited and coordinated volunteers for completing tasks throughout the farm.

Idaho – In the Boise community, JV AmeriCorps members Mariah Ertel, Mary Franz, Mary Haggerty, and AnnaMarie Marsilio spent MLK Day volunteering at Big Brother Big Sister of Southwest Idaho. Our members tackled various responsibilities assigned to them, such as organizing a storage facility, taking inventory, and reorganizing t-shirts.

According to Mary Haggerty, “Serving on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with my community knowing that so many other communities, not only in JVC Northwest but across the country, were serving others filled me with peace and hope. Hearing about and seeing so many people spread light made the ideal of a bright future tangible.”

Jared Harris, Emily Curran, and Marit Olson, spent the day weatherizing homes through the Community Energy Project with Hands On Great Portland.

’16-17 JV AmeriCorps members Jared Harris and Emily Curran weatherizing a home in Portland.

Montana – School was still in session in Hays, Montana, so our JV AmeriCorps members spent time educating their students on the history of Martin Luther King, Jr.. JV AmeriCorps members located in Missoula volunteered at the Poverello Center where they focused their day on homeless outreach.

Thank you to all who participated in MLK Day of Service 2017!

Save

AmeriCorps Week: Life as a JV AmeriCorps Member

This AmeriCorps Week, we’re highlighting JV AmeriCorps service throughout the Northwest. JV AmeriCorps member JP Ideker (Hood River, OR ’15-16) serves underprivileged students and their families throughout Hood River County, OR.

My service placement at Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service has given me the opportunity to meet, learn from, and be with some incredible people. Through service with the SNAP-Ed program conducting healthy food demonstrations, I’ve gotten to meet community members at food banks, K-5th graders (who always make me smile) at elementary schools, and several professionals at nonprofits working to address food insecurity and promote healthy eating.

James (third from the right) and his Hood River community mates

JP (third from the right) and his Hood River community mates

Through service with the Juntos college and career-readiness program, I’ve gotten to learn from local Latino families and students about the obstacles that the Latino community faces in pursuing higher education and the history of the Latino population in Oregon. Through service with the ASPIRE high school mentoring program, I’ve gotten to be with Latino high school students as they navigate college, scholarship, and financial aid applications.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my definition of service and how this year has helped shape my understanding of such a broad concept. I think meeting, learning from, and being with the people we “serve” are key elements of true service. By meeting people where they are, learning from their stories and experiences, and choosing to be with them, we begin to share our lives with others. It is this sharing of experiences that best reflects the word “convivir” (to live together) that so many Juntos families have used to describe their favorite parts of the Juntos program. The word “convivir” has become an integral part of my year with OSU Extension, the Columbia Gorge community, and the JVC Northwest AmeriCorps program.

JP Ideker Additional Photo

Natalia Fernandez and JP present at a workshop

It is difficult to choose a single great story that best describes the past seven months in Oregon, but there are many small, daily shared experiences that have been life-giving, peace-filled, and almost painfully soothing. These daily shared experiences take several forms, including cross-country skiing with our support families, waking up at 7:00 AM and finding a crockpot full of tamales my GED students left at our back door, helping a family fill out a FAFSA application for the first time, and having a high school student lend me their favorite book to read.

I am incredibly thankful to share this year with a new community and have them share it with me as well. From sitting down with families in their homes to hear stories about their immigration to Oregon and their traditions, sharing pozole and chicken tinga with Juntos families before the college workshops begin, and seeing elementary school kids’ eyes light up when they try the healthy food of the month, I’m left with daily reminders of the goodness around me.

I feel lucky to get to meet, learn from, and be with the Columbia Gorge community for another five months, and I look forward to all the lessons this year has to offer. Service as a Jesuit Volunteer AmeriCorps member so far has taught me a lot about the value of shared moments in that there’s a certain intangibility to the beauty in them – in daily handshakes, smiles, stories, new fruits and vegetables, and college workshops. I’m thankful for this intangibility, this community, and a shared life.

AmeriCorps Week: Cultivating Roots in Grays Harbor, WA

This AmeriCorps Week, we’re highlighting JV AmeriCorps service throughout the Northwest. JV AmeriCorps member Megan Norris (Grays Harbor, WA ’15-16) describes how participation in the Cultivating Roots garden has strengthened the feeling of community with youth and economically disadvantaged community members in Grays Harbor, WA. We thank Megan for sharing her story of service and would like to acknowledge all current and former members who have so graciously served in our program.  

Community gardens are so much more than plants or produce. They have a social and community aspect rather unique to the culture of a shared outside space. They are a space which many people invest love and want to see succeed. The Cultivating Roots garden, where I serve through the agency Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Service Department,  is located within Pacific Court Housing Development. Pacific Court is low income housing under ownership of the Housing Authority of Grays Harbor.

15-16_Orientation_ChalkboardProject_MeganNorris

Megan excited to ‘get things done!’

The residents who live among and around the garden, if involved in it, have grown not only produce in the beds, but also affinity for the space. The neighborhood children are especially keen of the garden. Some of my favorite days of service are the ones where I arrive at the garden with the intention of tending to the beds only to be met with enthusiastic children ready to harvest, learn, and help.

One October afternoon I was met with a different emotion from one of the dedicated garden volunteers. At 8 years old, she is a fantastic helper and quick learner, but on this day, she had come to the garden as a place of solace. In tears, this garden volunteer choked out a simple question, “May I help you today? I had a rough day and really just want to be in the garden.” Over the next two hours, we chatted about her day and why she was crying; we talked about ways tomorrow could be a better day; and we got our hands messy in the garden beds.

Cultivating Roots Garden

Other children came and went from the garden that day, sharing smiles and well wishes. When the garden chores were finished, not only were there 14 lbs. of harvest to be distributed, but a strong sense of community filled the air. A day was bettered by spending time in the garden, and the garden gained a reputation as a safe place to come when one has a crummy day. I was reminded that day of how my time in the garden is service and that the garden being located in the Pacific Court development, a neighborhood where parents often have to work two shifts and is full of hard working and earnest people, is a great fit.

AmeriCorps Week: Celebrating National Service

Join Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in celebrating national service! March 5th marks the beginning of AmeriCorps Week. During this time, we highlight and show our appreciation to all the AmeriCorps members who are ‘getting things done’ across the country, as well as recognizing AmeriCorps alums, community partners, and all those who play a huge role in AmeriCorps’ service impacts.

From March 5-12th, follow our blog and AmeriCorps’ Facebook page as well as #AmeriCorpsWorks and #IamAmeriCorps on social media to learn about AmeriCorps amazing impact on members, individuals we serve, communities, and more!

A Brief History

In 2010, JVC Northwest partnered with AmeriCorps to bring over 50 years of experience serving the most vulnerable of the Northwest into the Corporation for National and Community Service’s network. This partnership has enabled JVC Northwest to serve more people through its agencies and expand to new communities.

JVC Northwest currently places members in 24 communities in remote and urban areas across Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  JVC AmeriCorps members live together in intentional communities, which provide them greater opportunities to share skills, network agencies, and better understand and meet the needs in the towns and cities in which they serve. These members help address local needs including youth at risk, domestic violence prevention, homelessness and housing, food and hunger, disaster relief, and environmental stewardship.

AmeriCorps Tackles America’s Toughest Problems, Expands Opportunity and Builds Lifelong Civic Leaders, and is a Leading Driver of Social Innovation and Nonprofit Success

  • Service is a Solution:  More than 75,000 AmeriCorps members improve the lives of millions of our most vulnerable citizens each year. Since 1994, 983,000 individuals have served as AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps’ impacts are proven and measurable.
  • Expanding Educational Opportunity:  AmeriCorps members have earned more than $3.1 billion in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards since 1994, helping hundreds of thousands of AmeriCorps alums pay for college.
  • Building Community Leaders:  An AmeriCorps longitudinal study found that AmeriCorps alums are more attached to their communities, aware of community challenges, and empowered to address them.
  • Strengthening Nonprofits:  AmeriCorps members help tens of thousands of faith-based and community groups expand services, build capacity, raise funds, develop new partnerships, and create innovative, sustainable programs.
  • Mobilizing volunteers:  AmeriCorps is a powerful catalyst and force-multiplier for community volunteering. Last year AmeriCorps members recruited, trained, and supervised more than 4 million community volunteers for the organizations they serve.

JVC Northwest AmeriCorps logo

MLK Day of Service 2016

 

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, our JV AmeriCorps members participated in restoration projects, rallies, food drives, and more! Check out a few summaries of this year’s MLK Day service activities!

From Laura Paolino, JV AmeriCorps member serving in Yakima, WA:  

Yakima (2)

JV AmeriCorps members serving in Yakima

“Our house participated in a March for Justice on Martin Luther King Day, which was followed by a program held at the Yakima Convention Center where we listened to talks from various members of the community on the theme of service. We heard from a local high school senior, who urged us to “stick with love,” a Reverend who sang “We Shall Overcome,” and the Yakima School District Superintendent, who encouraged the Yakima community to continue MLK’s message of serving others. In an effort to create a tangible action step, he created an initiative called “Yakima Act 1000,” an online platform where community members are encouraged to create teams and rack up 1000 hours of service over the next year (yakact1000.org).

Following the program, we walked over to one of Yakima’s community centers, where members of the march shared a meal of hot soup, crackers, and coffee. It was a beautiful day filled with music and a strong sense of hope, solidarity, and community.”


JV AmeriCorps members serving in Gresham, OR:

Gresham (1)

Anna Butler (far left) with her JV AmeriCorps member community mates

JV AmeriCorps member Anna Butler (Gresham, OR ’15-16) serves as the Eastside Green Team Education Specialist at SOLVE. In honor of MLK Day, SOLVE hosted a river cleanup event. Volunteers, including Anna and many of her Gresham JV AmeriCorps community mates, removed litter along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Separate from the day of service, the Gresham community also hosted a viewing and discussion of the film Selma.


From Megan Norris, JV AmeriCorps member serving in Grays Harbor, WA:  

15-16_GraysHarbor_Norris_MLK

Megan Norris (left) and Lauren McCabe (right) serving on MLK Day

“The Grays Harbor community participated in MLK Day of Service by picking up garbage in our neck of the woods. We live in an area of Aberdeen that is often looked down upon and  referred to as Felony Flats…. the area was where ex-cons were granted housing after incarceration.

As Jesuit Volunteers striving to live eco-consciously, the high amount of trash in the road, on the sidewalks, and in yards where we live has been disheartening this year. From just three blocks we were able to bag 7 full bags of trash. The result of our service was immediately noticeable-the street looks a lot better!”


A huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated in celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.