Monday, May 06, 2013

AmeriCorps and learning service


We have many goals for our AmeriCorps programs: help 3,000 children do better in school, provide 20,000 children with meals during the summer, provide food for 5,000 families through our food pantry, and recruit 500 volunteers to help expand impact. 

We have one unmeasured goal that in many ways we view as our most important accomplishment: instill in AmeriCorps members an ethic of service that extends beyond their short term with us. Member surveys and comments to us suggest we do a pretty good job at this goal.  However, every now and then we are presented with broader proof that we are reaching our goals.

Today a former member dropped by to let us know that she was tasked with a class project in her “Psychology of Poverty” course.  She had the option to do research and write a paper or she could do an action project.  She choose an action project.  

Drawing upon her tenure as a summer AmeriCorps member, she decided that she wanted to do two things: raise funds and recreational equipment to support the summer enrichment activities of our Food on the Move program and also raise awareness of poverty and childhood hunger. 

She enlisted the help of a few classmates and the management of SportsAuthority.  She set up a table at a local Sports Authority, who supported the project by donating 20% off coupons to be given out.  Her only visuals were a few 8 1/2 by 11 pieces of paper taped to the table and a homemade 3 sided cardboard sign – like the kind kids use for science projects.

Her team welcomed everyone as they entered the store and for those that stopped, they talked about not just the need in Dallas, but also about the solution.  And she asked them to help with the solution by donating funds or sports items like balls and jump ropes.  Over the course of two, four hour days this AmeriCorps Alum raised $900 in cash and received another $100 in sports equipment.

We have a need for both in our summer program; and we will put the funds to their intended use: buying more balls and jump ropes and sidewalk chalk…and hula hoops. But our greatest need was met by her actions – the need to have more citizens committed to a lifetime of service and attachment to their community.

Dr. Keven Vicknair
CitySquare's AmeriCorps team

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