Part of my duties is to attend and participate in the Family Support Project meetings
for Dallas County. The goal of these meetings is to use a designated pot of money
to “fill in” where there are gaps in services and aid for those who need help. In
December, a man came in over his lunch hour from his work with the Dallas County
Roads Department to request aid with their 4-year-old’s childcare. He humbly described
to us how his wife, who’d worked full-time as a Director of Nursing at a local nursing
home, had suffered a stroke. She didn’t have the appropriate disability coverage
available. She brought in more than half of the income for their family, and they’d
never needed or asked for help before. They’d made sacrifices, used up savings,
turned to family who offered to prepare meals from an hour and a half away, and
gotten some aid where it was available to them. Now, his wife was functioning fairly
well other than her speech and was hoping to return to work as soon as possible,
perhaps in January. He explained that even though she was home, between daily therapy
appointments and caring part-time for their active 4-year-old, she became exhausted
more quickly and easily then before due to the blood disorder that had caused the
stroke (and that she was unaware of prior). The daycare provider was very gracious
and continued to work with the family, and the FSP ended up eagerly granting his
request plus some. It was obvious that his wife had been the one in charge of most
family “business” and that he’d been out of his comfort zone dealing with things
she’d taken care of several times since her stroke. However, as he explained his
situation and described how his family usually adopted a “needy” family from the
church Christmas tree and how this year they were a family on the church Christmas
tree, you did not hear anger, pride, or self-pity. As I listened to him, I thought
about my own family and how my husband had lost his employment early on in the year
and was still unemployed. I compared that to the hardships his family has faced
and how he almost lost his wife and mother of his children, not just money, employment,
and prosperity. The next day we had a giant blizzard, and as I stared out the window
at all of the snow, I smiled as I recalled how he’d said that snowstorms were a
gift to his family as it meant overtime for the Roads Department where he worked.
As I stayed indoors “trapped” at home with my husband and kids from the storm for
the next few days, I remembered to consider myself lucky.
–Arin Jones, AmeriCorps Partnering to Protect Children member in Dallas County
"A couple weeks before school was back in term I presented to middle school students
a display on and talked with them about what a healthy relationship looks like.
One girl came to me alone and talked to me about gossiping. She said that some other
girls were spreading really negative rumors about her. We talked for a bit and after
I gave her our crisis number she thanked me. It was the kind of thank you that gives
you chills- even to remember today. With the recent suicides of teens all over the
news it is evident that “gossiping” is a weapon that teenagers employ with dramatic
consequences. Understanding that these kids will soon be adults makes me hopeful
for our future."
– Nicole Rethman, REACH Member, Fort Dodge
"I work with the plaintiff in the case on a weekly basis; she is Spanish-speaking
and attends my Thursday night support group for Spanish-speaking women. She came
to me, not certain of what she could do, because she was having problems at home.
Her ex would threaten her with a pistol, and also be physically and emotionally
abusive, even in front of their three children. Together we filed a police report
and a protective order, forcing him to move out. However, the protective order didn't
stop him. He stalked her all the time, following her from one job to the next job.
One day, he assaulted her at her job, so I told her about contempt charges. We filed
for contempt, and soon he was arrested. My client was so relieved. She and her three
children came to our vigil last Thursday night. She looked so much less paranoid
and more relaxed, knowing that he was in custody. The children ran freely. For the
past three months, I have been helping several clients in similar situations. But
her situation is one that stands out. She was able to learn about her rights as
a victim, find safety for her and her children, and watch her perpetrator fall from
beginning to end."
– Michelle Marron, REACH Member, Council Bluffs
I was anxious about giving a Civil Rights Movement lesson another try with our middle
school summer program. I had shown about 10 minutes of an excellent Civil Rights
documentary earlier in the summer, but the kids had been confused by the documentary's
vocabulary and completely unengaged by the material. Still, I felt that the lessons
of the Civil Rights Movement could be really powerful for these kids, so I decided
to give it another shot. This time, I prepared a lesson on the murder of Emmett
Till, a 14-year-old African American killed in 1955 for whistling at a white woman.
This murder and the publicity it generated helped to launch the Civil Rights Movement.
I knew that the subject matter would be tough, but I also felt that the kids could
step up to the task. This time, rather than just showing a movie, I designed a whole
lesson plan and showed only a few movie clips to reinforce major points. First I
asked the kids what segregation was and what living under segregation would be like.
I also posed a question about whether it would be easy or hard to break away from
the system of segregation as either a black or white person in the South in the
1950s. The kids gave very thoughtful answers and backed up their reasoning very
well. We went over the details of the case against Emmett's accused murderers, the
not guilty verdict of the all-white jury, and the later confession of the accused
to the boy's murder. The kids were engaged in the lesson, asked all sorts of questions,
and intermittently expressed outrage. By the end of the lesson, the kids had a good
understanding of the facts of Emmett Till's murder as well as of the importance
of this event to mobilizing the Civil Rights Movement. I also grew and developed
that day, as I realized that I could be a much more responsive and effective teacher
for the kids than a movie, something that will stick with me as I become an educator
within the next few years. That's one of the great things about AmeriCorps programs
– we certainly help those we serve, but members also have fantastic opportunities
to experience great personal and professional growth during their terms of service.
– April Mohler, AmeriCorps Youth Launch Member
The NCCC North Central Region
based in Vinton, Iowa has been in close collaboration with the Iowa Commission on
Volunteer Service (ICVS) since the opening of the Vinton campus in the summer of
2008. Dan Milnes, Region Director of the North Central Region, and Adam Lounsbury,
Executive Director of the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, along with their
respective staff members, have forged a strong working relationship resulting in
multiple service opportunities for AmeriCorps members and community citizens throughout
the great State of Iowa.
One example follows:
In 2009, the Iowa legislature passed a bill prioritizing the development of Green
Corps programming. The Green Corps involves AmeriCorps members or Iowa Summer Youth
Corps members participating in major transformative projects emphasizing energy
efficiency, historic preservation, neighborhood development, and storm water reduction
and management. Recently, members of the NCCC North Central’s Oak 7 team conducted
a service project with the City of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa that was proposed by
a Green AmeriCorps VISTA member who is a part the Iowa Commission’s VISTA Service
The project was a perfect fit for NCCC’s Oak 7 team and a fine example of collaboration
between the Green VISTA Corps and NCCC. Oak 7’s primary objective was to install
energy efficiency kits in homes, and in just three weeks Oak 7 installed 95 kits.
In addition, they canvassed 550 houses throughout the city of Dubuque educating
homeowners on the environmental and economical benefits of smart energy usage, making
homeowners aware of the availability of kits and scheduling kit installation appointments.
The Dubuque project was a great example of agency collaboration and leveraging of
national service resources in terms of project development and execution. The NCCC
North Central Region campus and the ICVS look forward to moving forward and building
on the great foundation of cooperation and teamwork that already exists.
To learn more about the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service visit
www.volunteeriowa.org. To learn more about AmeriCorps NCCC or AmeriCorps
VISTA, visit www.americorps.gov. To see a PBS News Hour Story that highlighted the
AmeriCorps NCCC team’s service, visit
(From AmeriCorps NCCC E-Newsletter October 2010)
An AmeriCorps volunteer and bilingual
outreach advocate, Michelle Marron, is expanding the shelter’s outreach efforts
at the Catholic Charities Phoenix House Domestic Violence Shelter. She is reaching
out to Spanish-speaking abuse victims and family members. Marron is preparing to
start a Spanish-language community education group in July that will follow a format
similar to the organization’s English-language community education class, “Journey
Beyond Abuse.” Besides planning the new group, Marron has been filling in as a legal
advocate for abuse victims and interpreter for Spanish-speaking abuse victims.
Tucked into Iowa’s City’s now notorious Southeast Side, the 319 Musical Festival
was held in Wetherby Park as an attempt to “change some people’s minds” about the
bad reputation the area has developed. The festival was held May 8 and was a huge
success. The stigma that people have because of the bad press is much more negative
than it should be and this exciting festival is a stride in the direction towards
positive publicity for the park and the area.
Susan started as a mentor with
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County in 2002. Over the past seven
years, Susan and her mentee have grown substantially as a match and often discuss
what their relationship will look like in 30 years. Susan has provided generous
support to her mentee’s family and has noted that she believes in living life as
a positive example and inspiration to others. Susan is applauded for upholding
these traits as an outstanding mentor and positive role model.