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!

Getting Things Done

washington-tornado images

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!

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!