AmeriCorps is getting ready for Thanksgiving! This year we are taking cards and handprint turkeys to the hospitals while also having a food drive at the Children’s Home to donate to shelters! How do you like to help and give back for Thanksgiving?
AmeriCorps members T and Laura along with member coach, Becca, joined a peace walk through the East Bluff Neighborhood where the Children’s Home is located. This peace walk went along with the third annual Night Out Against Crime where people from the neighborhood come together to make a difference to bring peace back to the area.
There was a great turn out! There were people who live and work in the East Bluff, the police and fire fighters that work in the area, and a couple dozen volunteers from Target who helped serve the delicious corn and hot dogs while also helping out with face painting. The night was full of fun!
Check out the front page article of the Peoria Journal Star!
Becca, a member turned staff, will be the first one to say that her mom is amazing! Being a single mom is tough but Kelli has taken it all in stride. At one point Kelli worked four jobs on top of keeping up with two very active kids. She didn’t miss a single baseball game of Becca’s younger brother or a single performance when Becca did color guard in high school. Kelli also takes the title “mom” very seriously and takes in each and every person that walks through her door as if they were her own. There has been more than one occasion where Becca had come home after work to see her friends sitting on the couch with her mom. Kelli loves her children’s friends unconditionally and makes sure she sees them as often as she can. It’s easy to see why Kelli is Becca’s superhero!
As a writer, Becca also admires author J.K Rowling. Harry Potter has been life changing for her and she feels she can relate to some of J.K Rowling’s struggles, which helps Becca accept some things about her life. Not to mention, she would love to be as successful with her writing as J.K is!
Let us know who your superhero is! Be sure to tag us on Instagram and tag it #superselfies!
School is out, graduations are over, and there are big things happening in the Peoria area! Summer is a good time for community actions and block parties and that’s exactly what is going to be happening! Come August 5 at 5:00 in the evening, the entire East Bluff is coming together to do a peace walk and then celebrate the summer and a crime free area. Join AmeriCorps with our friends from the East Bluff Community for the Night Out Against Crime! There’s always delicious food and fun games along with lots of great people. AmeriCorps is very excited to be helping for another year and can’t wait to have fun.
But that’s not all that we have going on. Ignite Peoria is also coming up in August at the Civic Center. It’s an interactive art exhibit with visual arts, music, dance, theatre, and different unique arts. We are very excited to go and see that and we invite you to come as well since general admission and parking is free for the event! You can join us on August 9th for an entire day of fun!
We have many new members starting a summer term and taking on a summer full of camp! They will enjoy long days with many kids of all ages at a variety of different camps. The members who are stationed at the Children’s Home will continue to find things to do all summer long while helping with the East Bluff Build It Up (formerly Taking Back Our Neighborhood), and will be visiting a few pre-schools for our literary projects. Our project from last year where we teamed up with Youth Build has gotten back together and they are currently working on fixing up houses on Frye. If you know of anyone in the East Bluff that may need some house work please contact Glen Oak Community Church about their In As Much program.
Of course, AmeriCorps would not be AmeriCorps if we did not start preparing for Keepsacks! Keepsacks is our annual project where we gather fleece and hygiene items in order to make blankets and hygiene kits to deliver to the shelters in the area. Did you know the average age of a homeless person in Illinois is 9 years old? This fact breaks our hearts and so we do our very best to help take care of them while their family gets back on their feet. Luckily, we have a surplus of hygiene supplies left over from our time in Washington to help make our kits but we will as always need donations for blankets.
Enjoy the sun and stay cool!
Devastation hit nearly a month ago in the Washington Area, a quick ten minutes from Peoria. That Sunday we all knew we would be called into the office, but we had no idea what this would entail. We had heard stories of AmeriCorps teams being part of the first responders to the Joplin and Moore Tornadoes in the past. Would that be us? Would be in the middle of the mess, picking up the pieces of people’s lives? Could we handle that? Our members are for the most part in schools, doing after school programs and tutoring. We were not disaster relief specialists and honestly, I don’t think emotionally ready for what we could have been asked to do. It was 8 AM Monday morning when members came in, current and past alike. We were ready, up for the challenge. We sorted everything we had in the basement that we could donate, hats, gloves,scarves, sleeping bags, hygiene items, and blankets. Then… We waited. We had to wait for the powers above us to give us the okay. So we waited, ate some McDonald’s… and then waited some more. We were almost disappointed! We were supposed to be there! Instead we were sitting in the office, eating McDonald’s, telling stories of how long we were without power, how windy it was, and how scared we all were for those who we knew who could have been effected.
Finally, we got the call. We were going to Washington and setting up a donation center. Not quite clean up, not quite right in the middle of it all, but the perfect spot for our loving and compassionate members who were in fact trained to take care of people. We headed to Washington and started sorting. We had tables and tables set up, Julie had helped take over for an exhausted Chamber of Commerce member who had be effected by the storm and was now in charge of donations, Natalie lead all of the sorting with some members, Andrew (an alum) photographed every bit of it, and Rebecca made phone calls. We knew that this banquet center wouldn’t last long as a donation center. We had trailer loads of things coming and there was no way that this could be what we needed it to be. Two days later, we moved. We went to an empty warehouse and filled the entire thing with shelves to put items on. Three empty stores became Donation Centers, and that was only the beginning.
Now, nearly a month later, we are still going strong. Three warehouses are filled to the ceilings with donations that are currently being sorted and then used to restock our shelves at Sunnyland Plaza. AmeriCorps has completely taken over donations and will be there for the long run. We were told to expect six months. We never ever would have guessed that we would be there that long, holding victims hands as they pick up what they need, hugging them as they cry, and reassuring them that we are there for them and that this was all for them. There have been some ups and downs and you’ll get that with anything like that. But we have truly seen the best of people and have been so blessed to be able to be a part of this.
This is a newspaper article all about our donation center, and although no members, nor Natalie were interviewed, member Brenton is pictured. For any information feel free to contact us here or on Facebook.
Fostering Transitions AmeriCorps (Facebook page)
AmeriCorps: Getting Things Done!