MLK Day

Monday, January 19th was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  We celebrated this year by organizing a book drive for the East Bluff, and by attending the 23rd annual MLK Day Celebration Luncheon at the Civic Center.

We worked with a few local volunteers to collect over 600 books for the East Bluff community.

Some of the books we collected.

Some of the books we collected.

Our members gathered at Children’s Home to sort, label, and package the books for delivery.  This week, we are delivering them to East Bluff organizations like the Little Free Libraries (one at EBNHS, one at the East Bluff Community Center), as well as Children’s Home locations for our Residential and Kiefer School clients.

A box of books for the Residential clients.

A box of books for the Residential clients.

Brought to you by AmeriCorps!

Brought to you by AmeriCorps!

That afternoon, we attended the 23rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon with guest speaker Harry Belafonte.

AmeriCorps Members at the MLK Celebration Luncheon

AmeriCorps Members and community members celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service.

Enjoying the delicious food.

Enjoying the delicious food.

Happy MLK Day!

Happy MLK Day!

He talked about his legacy working with Dr. King and others, and we were all inspired by his lifetime of service.

Meet the Member Coach

Hello everyone!

Becca here to update you all on everything that has been keeping us so incredibly busy.  Our program has expanded quite a bit to take on more members and we have had a few staff changes as well.  Natalie, the old Member Coach has been moved up to Program Coordinator! This left the Member Coach position open.  Natalie and Jeff, the Program Director, wanted this position to be filled by an AmeriCorps alumnus who would be able to give insight to the program from a view-point that neither of them had.

So after two years as a member, serving 1,350 hours in total, I moved into role of Member Coach.  I took on this role at the very end of July and have been working alongside Natalie to form Fostering Transitions into our ideal AmeriCorps program.  This includes new sites, a lot of new members, and different project ideas.  As the member coach, I will work closely with the members to make sure that their term runs smoothly and they are using their hours to the fullest potential.  We want to make sure that they are not only serving at their host sites but also at other locations in the community and improving our program in other ways.  We are working on a few different projects and campaigns that we are all very excited about.

I am working with a small group of members on a Pop the Top campaign where we are collecting soda tabs to be donated to Ronald McDonald House.  We are going to be starting within the agency and at our sites and then moving out into the community.  We also are preparing for an AIDs awareness campaign that will be throughout the agency and sites as well.  Coming up for Martin Luther King Day we will be having a book drive that will benefit clients of the Children’s Home but also those in the East Bluff.

I am incredibly thankful to have been offered this role and to be able to remain a part of the AmeriCorps program.  I thoroughly enjoyed my two terms of service and think that our program is incredibly beneficial to the members involved but also to the people that we serve.  Many of our sites would not be able to exist without the help of AmeriCorps.  It is my goal to stay with the program until I finish my Social Work degree that I am working on.

In the coming days, I will be working with some of the new members to do some introductions!

AmeriCorps Makes Front Page

Member Coach Becca and members Laura and T pose while on the peace walk Tuesday night.

Member Coach Becca and members Laura and T pose while on the peace walk Tuesday night.

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!

http://www.pjstar.com/article/20140805/NEWS/140809533/0/SEARCH

Summer Fun!

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!

(http://www.ignitepeoria.com/, http://artspartners.net/ignite-peoria/)

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!

What We’ve Done and What We’re Doing

The past couple weeks have been very busy with lots of events and preparation for such.  We went to Springfield for the National and Community Service Recognition Day where all of the Illinois AmeriCorps, Vistas, RSVPs, and Fostering Grandparents programs met and heard from a few speakers, were given the chance to give blood, and went through breakout sessions.  After that we all met back together and marched down the streets of Springfield to the Capitol Building where we all recited the AmeriCorps Oath.  It’s always an exciting event and a good experience for all of the members involved.

That weekend a couple of members helped at the Special Olympics Bowling, another awesome event that can be life changing.  Volunteers help the participants bowl, give hugs and high fives, and help hand out awards.  It’s an all day event that is not only very special to the teams and coaches participating, but then also for the volunteers.

Then came the Keepsacks Chaos.  The office was full of members helping prepare bags for the hygiene kits and also activity bags for children.  We were able to send out at least a hundred activity bags with a book, a coloring book, crayons, a toy, and either a beanie baby or a hot wheels car.  This was the first year that we were able to put those together and it was a lot of fun working together trying to make these the best we could.  We had a need of 1,200 blankets and nearly one thousand hygiene kits this year and we are still working on numbers of how many we achieved.  A few days before we did last minute shopping and also got lunch arrangements figured out.  The week before Keepsacks was crazy busy, but that’s what we love!

Keepsacks itself was the 19 and a success.  We had many volunteers including girl scouts, high school groups, and college groups.  Everyone was kept busy assembling hygiene kits, sorting blankets, and even making more blankets!  We had close to twenty shelters that we helped this year which is awesome!  Like I mentioned before, we don’t have numbers yet but as soon as we do, we’ll let you know!

Now, the upcoming events! 

The East Bluff is doing a Deterrence Walk on Wisconsin with police officers, church officials, and those in the neighborhood.  At nine o’clock we will take to the streets to show that not only crime happens on the streets after dark!  In the past weeks, crime has hit a high and we’re showing the city that we are not going to just lay down and take it.  We have people who are proud of where they are from and want to keep it safe.  Feel free to join us!  We are meeting at the UU church and riding over the East Bluff or you can meet us at the Glen Oak School Parking Lot.

The following weekend on November 2 starting at 9 AM The East Bluff Planting New Growth project is taking place.  Many of us volunteers will be planting daffodil bulbs so that in the spring they bloom.  This will signify new growth and new beginnings in this neighborhood.  We had generous donations and our Vista Zack has done all of the coordinating.  There will also be a clean up to get some of the garbage up off of the street.  We want those in the East Bluff to be proud of their neighborhood and not be ashamed.

As you can see, AmeriCorps Fostering Transitions has been very busy!  We plan on staying that way as we start up our Preschool Literacy Project for the year and also begin working on an AIDs/HIV awareness day.  If you have any questions or would love to help us with any of our upcoming events, feel free to let us know!

Meet the Members: Gerald

Time for another segment of Meet the Members.  Introducing…Gerald!

Gerald.

Gerald.

Hi my name is Gerald and I have been working with the AmeriCorps team for 9 or 10 months. We have been working on community projects and doing things to help the East Bluff neighborhood out with some of the projects. The AmeriCorps team is dedicated to help out the people that have been down and out or that live in houses that needed fixed up. We help out at the Dream Center, Neighborhood house, and a lot of non-profits in the Peoria area. AmeriCorps is a great opportunity for people to learn job skills and gain job experience for the jobs that they want to apply for in the future. It gives you knowledge on things that you want to know or haven’t learned yet for the people that don’t have jobs that want a job. The AmeriCorps team is happy to help the people that don’t have job because they offer a whole lot that I wouldn’t pass up and I would actually like to do it all again because it was a fun ride here with the AmeriCorps team. The people that I have worked with have good personalities. The person that I worked with the most while I was here would be Natalie and she is very good to get along with and when you’re having a bad you can always go to her and talk to her.  When you are feeling down she is the best person to go to that can cheer you up. It’s been one heck of a ride for me and I would like to do it over again.

Not quite ready for the shot.

Not quite ready for the shot.

An East Bluff update.

Here’s a local news station’s coverage of the projects we’ve been working on in the East Bluff. Check it out!

 

AmeriCorps and YouthBuild, working together to better our neighborhoods!

AmeriCorps and YouthBuild, working together to better our neighborhoods!