Monday, May 28, 2012

Children of the Season

I wanted to be a part of the Gold 1000 Composite team to serve at Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake in California to help to make a small difference in a camp that provides children in need with a carefree week.

I applaud Ronald McDonald Houses' promotion of the understanding of ethnic uniqueness and also the hardships of the youth of our country. Children with disabilities such as autism, obesity and other disabilities and syndromes deserve a safe place to call home for a week of summer fun. Camp Ronald McDonald provides this in Eagle Lake, CA.

During our time there, we were not camp counselors, we were roofers! We re-shingled a historic building with HistoriCorps, out of Denver, Colorado. For a week, we harnessed up each day and ascended the 90 degree angle roof. I wouldn't say I was graceful doing it but I got the exhilarating job done!

Since we were a new team with a new dynamic, to get to know each other more in the short amount of time given, we held 1.5 hour "Team Member Spotlights." The person the spotlight was on was able to share their life stories, reflections, desires, hardships and secrets should they choose.

Some members chose to share about childhood, school life, or their time in the program or other adventures they went on in their life.

The second half of the Spotlight session was opened for questions. Questions ranged anywhere from silly to personal, from "would you rather" to reflections of life actions. Some members were encouraged to show off their hidden talents or singing/rapping skills.

I use to go into the homes of families with my mother where she worked as a home health pediatrics nurse and I remember the smile of one little boy, Elijah, who was diagnosed with Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome, similar to Down Syndrome, at birth. Even though we didn't meet the kids at Camp Ronald McDonald, I could see Elijah's smile as I was high above the ground, restoring a 100 year old building at a camp for children like him. Children of the season.

Friday, May 18, 2012


The next four weeks are going to be a breath of fresh air.

My team mate Lindsey and I have BOTH been selected, out of 50 applicants, for the SAME composite team! Composite teams are designed to give the Corps Members who apply a fresh experience on a completely different team.

Lindsey and I applied for the same project and on Team Reveal Day, were surprised to see we both made it to the team of just 7 Corps Members and one office Support Team Leader acting as field Team Leader.

This turns our final round, Round 4 into a "tri-round."

We will first hit the road in our new van, en route to Eagle Lake, outside Susanville, CA. For a week, we will serve at Camp Ronald McDonald before the season starts to restore a historical 100 year old roof with HistoriCorps, out of Denver, Colorado.

After our week of roof-work, we will pack up again and head North, back to Portland, Oregon for three more weeks! Our new team, which has a few different names but is mainly referred to as Gold 1000, will be starting a community garden at the Native American community center, Wisdom of the Elders. This will be a special project because the non-profit is located at its co-founder Rose High-Bear's residence in South East Portland and we will be residing in her garage!

AmeriCorps NCCC will then fly Lindsey and I down to Los Angeles County to rejoin with Green 7 in the San Bernardino Mountains for our final month of service at Camp de Beneville and Camp Tahquitz!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I almost need to be pinched back to reality after the last eight weeks of my life. I just spent two months Portland, Oregon, one of the coolest cities in the US of A. I just spent two months serving with Habitat for Humanity, one of the coolest non-profits in the US of A. I spent the last two months as Assistant Team Leader of my team, celebrating my birthday, soaking up Springtime, eating brunch with drag queens every Sunday morning, climbing on scaffolding, painting houses and insulating foundations, meeting awesome volunteers, hanging out with friends, spending too much money, dancing far too much and playing just the right amount of guitar.

There was never a dull moment during Round 3. I spent four weeks sleeping on the floor, Shauna went home, our 15 passenger van was totaled, our house had been a crack house days before we moved in, Spring Break happened somewhere in the middle of everything, I saw Amy Ray live in PDX, Seattle and Olympia, three of my team mates started going to physical therapy, diesel was poured into the van, our stove top was a disgusting rats nest for a good 5 days before we noticed, went to see the Trailblazers, then we had more van troubles and the list goes on.

Actually… you should probably just watch this…

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Building Future Family Foundations

The press release I wrote for Round 3...

Building Future Family Foundations

Portland, Ore. - An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team served with Habitat for Humanity for the 14th year in a row in Portland.  

During their time served with Habitat for Humanity Portland / Metro East, the team helped finish landscaping projects on finished homes, attended dedication ceremonies, and constructed the foundations of 10 brand new houses.  Corps Members laid sod, planted trees and shrubs, construct foundations, and were given the opportunity to act as site supervisors to improve their leadership skills. They were able to attend a dedication ceremony and served as greeters at the 2012 Hopebuild fundraising event at the Portland Convention Center.

About the ceremony, Corps Member Jenna Haley says, "Seeing the tears in the eyes of the family when they opened the fully stocked kitchen cabinets gave me the motivation to quickly and efficiently help to do my part in finishing the yard’s landscaping of their home."

Founded in 1981, Habitat for Humanity Portland / Metro East serves Multnomah County and northern Clackamas County and has the ability to reach out to families one step away from homelessness to provide simple, decent and affordable homes. The organization has served low-income, hardworking families in Portland / Metro East area for over 30 years and has served over 200 families. Low cost homes are built with volunteer service and donated building materials, then sold at 0% interest mortgage at 1% down payment.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 1,200 young adults serve nationwide each year.   During their 10-month term, Corps Members – all 18 to 24 years old – work on teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. Members work on a series of different projects, typically lasting six to eight weeks each, to mentor students, construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans, and address countless other local needs. The Pacific Region campus in Sacramento is one of five regional hubs in the United States and serves ten states in the western part of the country, as well as territories of Guam and American Samoa.   The other campuses are located in Denver, Colo.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Perry Point, Md; and Vinton, Iowa.

In exchange for their service, Corps Members receive $5,550 to help pay for college, or to pay back existing student loans.   Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, increased self-confidence, and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, people can indeed make a difference.   AmeriCorps NCCC is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.   The Corporation improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, visit the website!