Back to School, Back to School…

Many of our AmeriCorps members are currently students in college.  We have a few just beginning, a few half way done, and a few who are nearing the end.  Never the less, they’ve all gone back to the classroom, carrying books, listening to lectures, and doing homework.  Not only are they doing that, but they are beginning a new term here at AmeriCorps.  Soon enough the office will be back in full swing of things!  There will be members in and out of the office, up and down the stairs, and constantly on the phone setting up things for our team to do.  Lucky for all of you, that means it’s time for you to get involved with us.

We have many projects that are already looming closer and we’ll need plenty of help.  This Saturday there is a Special Olympics Bowling outing that always needs volunteers and there will be another one on October 12!  Also approaching very quickly is the United Way Day of Caring.  There are many things that you can do and you can look on line to see what your community is doing and how you can get involved.  Our AmeriCorps team will be at the Civic Center boxing up canned goods.  Which we will also be collecting until the 5th of September which is soon!  So if you are in the Peoria area, feel free to bring by canned goods to any of the Children’s Home locations!  In a couple of months, one of our biggest projects happens.  On October 19 we will all gather together in honor of the annual Keepsacks for Kids project and sort and make hundreds of blankets and hygiene kits to be sent out to all of the local shelters to help those in need.    The average age of a homeless person in Illinois is 9 years old!  Isn’t that heart breaking?  So when you’re all snuggled up in your warm bed in your home with a full stomach, think about those children who need your help and ask what you can do for them.  We would love donations of any kind, including fleece for blankets or any type of hygiene kits such as full size shampoo and body wash, tooth brushes, tooth paste, combs, brushes, tissues, etc etc.

The school season is the busiest time of the year but don’t forget that you can still help!

Our fearless leader Julie's son and a past member's nephew helping at Keepsacks for Kids!

Our fearless leader Julie’s son and a past member’s nephew helping at Keepsacks for Kids!

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A Quick Trip to Washington DC

This past week, three of the AmeriCorps members plus our leader, Julie, took a trip to Washington DC for the Conference on Volunteering and National Service.  Shaquita, Kiona, Rebecca, and Julie spent the four days in and out of different sessions, meeting new people, and coming up with new ways to help in our community.

Shaquita focused on Military sessions due to her husband’s involvement with the Army.  She also took some financial classes and learned many ways to become involved in the military without actually being in it.  With the sessions she took she has many new ideas for what to bring into her community.

Kiona took many different classes, some to do with Education, one to deal with conflict in the workplace, and many other sessions that filled her with ideas to help those in need in her home area.  Many ideas will help low income families with saving money.

Rebecca bounced from topics, such as education, to social innovation, to start ups, and communication.  She has set new goals for herself as an AmeriCorps member and is hoping to implement them in her next term.

The girls had the chance to network with many people, such as those from Target, Chase, Starbucks, and many others.  The three of them have come back ready to take on their community with fresh ideas and the contacts to help them do so.

Their next project will be gardening in parts of the neighborhood behind the Children’s Home around Bernard Hall.  This will start in early July.  Also, while doing this Shaquita and Kiona have been busy at Good Begginnings and South Side Mission helping with lots and lots of children.

Have a safe and great Summer!

 

Kiona, Shaquita, and Rebecca representing Illinois at the World War Two Memorial

Kiona, Shaquita, and Rebecca representing Illinois at the World War Two Memorial

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Rebecca, Shaquita, Julie, and Kiona help bag 100,000 bags of food for their second service project of the day!

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Shaquita, Rebecca, and Kiona celebrate their hard work at the Target Sunday Supper

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After the closing plenary, the girls pose with Wendy, an advocate for AmeriCorps

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Kiona, Rebecca, and Shaquita pose in front of the White House

 

 

Marathon Memoirs

Last weekend, 1800 runners made their way through the Peoria area, from

Runners coming down Western past mile 10

Runners coming down Western past mile 10

downtown Peoria, up the Main Street hill, through Bradley, through the West Bluff, into the East Bluff and back down town, all for the kids at St. Jude.  Not only were there 1800 runners, but a dozen Paralympic competitors who did the 26.2 mile trek by pushing themselves with their arms.  Many gold and silver medalists from around the globe came to compete in the RiverCity Marathon.  It was a huge success and plans are already being made for next year.  Those at Running Central are taking suggestions of things that could better the run and are also trying to reduce chaos.  Adam White has been amazing throughout this entire process, dealing with those who became angry, paying for the Police Officer’s overtime, and ensuring the safety of every running.  Despite being called Satan, Adam stayed completely professional.

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More runners down Western including the marathon runners, the relay runners, and the 25K runners

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Mike serving as some comic relief to the runners at Mile 20

AmeriCorps members spent around six hours helping out this past weekend.  Rebecca and her boyfriend, Mike

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Mike being a traffic cone at Mile 20 on Forrest Hill

helped at an intersection by Rebecca’s house and mile marker ten and then came over to mile 20 and joined Natalie, Julie, Julie’s kids, John, Alisha, Shaquita, Kiona, Kiona’s boyfriend, and the runners from St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run Motorhome blue 12.  The group passed out water and candy to the 200 marathon runners and continued to cheer them on for the most difficult part of the run.

Although the terrain was rough, the Main Street hill was brutal, and the heat and humidity were at their highest, the first RiverCity Marathon was a success!  Thank you again to all those who helped and supported St. Jude!

Run River City!

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You’ve heard the commercials, you’ve seen the billboards, and now you’ve seen the blog post.  Peoria city is now hosting it’s very own marathon!  On Sunday, May 19, around 1,500 people will run 26.2 miles through the city.  There will also be a 5K, a 25K relay, and a kids run of 1.2 miles.  There will be a mariachi band, bags to play at relay stops, and perhaps a bacon stop!  Businesses will boom this coming weekend and many of them are doing specials for the community.  Check out your local businesses along the route this weekend and show them your support.

Money from the registration fee will be going to support St. Jude Research and the St. Jude runs.  It takes 2 million dollars to run the hospital for just ONE day, so every little amount donated helps!  This marathon is not only going to bring money into our community but also will save lives.

This event is going to be awesome so come out and support all those crazy people running for those who can’t.  Bring your signs and noisemakers and let’s make this an amazing first every River City Marathon!

Illinois River Flooding: Our View

Flood e

View from the museum.

Flood c

Becca’s picturesque view of the flooded train tracks.

Flood b

Another image from Becca, of the river’s height last weekend.

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The pretty reflection and the clear skies almost hide the fact that this historic flood has already caused major damage.

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Volunteers and workers wait behind the sandbag-enforced barriers…

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The riverbank…formerly known as Water Street.

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Alisha does a little wading to get a shot of a submerged road sign.

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The picture Alisha took.

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Preparations, in the form of thousands of sand bags.

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A closeup of the sandbags, the city’s best defense against the rising waters.

Pictures taken by Alisha, Becca, and Natalie