Greatest Great Stories, Q2 Progress Report Highlights & AmeriCorps Week

The AIHTI members recently submitted their Quarter 2 Progress Reports. They were all fantastic but only the top 3 exceptional great stories made it to the blog. Congrats to Beth, Emily and Kerry!

Great story #1 –
My name is Beth Underdahl-Peirce.  I am serving at Area 10 Agency on Aging in Ellettsville, Indiana.  I am positioned as the coordinator for the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program.  One of my projects I am starting is a community garden and garden class.  The community garden will provide the Area 10 food bank with fresh produce that will then be given to over 200 senior citizens with a low income.  The garden is in the beginning stages.  I had $200.00 from the Martin Luther King Jr. Grant and with six volunteers we built a raised bed and a compost bin with the grant money.  The raised bed is the first raised bed for the community garden that I was able to have built.  I have applied to two other grants and now I am waiting to hear if I have any more money to build more raised beds.  The community garden will be an accessible garden so anyone, wheelchair or not, can garden in it.  The raised beds will also help the seniors that live near by and whom Area 10 serves to garden in by means of having a place to sit and garden, not kneel and garden.  I have had a garden class that allowed seeds to be started.  A handful of exceptional employees at Area 10 are fostering the seedlings until they are ready to be planted in the Intergenerational Community Garden at Area 10.  Once the produce is planted and has grown, the produce will be given to the Area 10 food bank.

Eventually, once the garden has grown, it will have plots for people in the community to rent spots to grow their own produce.  There will also be scholarship plots so those that cannot afford a plot can still have a plot that someone else pays for.  The garden will provide families who cannot afford fresh produce on a regular basis, a place to grow their own food.  There will be work days so those who do not know much about gardening can go to the work days and work in the garden with someone who knows more about gardening.  It will be an educational experience.

The garden class and the garden will provide a place where people of any age can get together to talk about a common interest, to meet new people in the same community which brings the community together, and to share knowledge and to gain new knowledge.

Great story #2 –
My name is Emily Bretz.  I have been serving as an AmeriCorps member for six months.  I am placed at Deaconess Family Medicine Residency in Evansville.  I recently began a project for National Nutrition Month, which is sponsored by the American Dietetic Association.  Throughout the month of March, the employees have the opportunity to donate nonperishable food items to the emergency food pantry at the clinic.  The emergency food pantry provides peanut butter, cereal, macaroni and cheese, crackers, tuna/canned meat, canned fruit and vegetables, and shelf-stable milk to patients who are in an urgent situation and need a supply of food.  Everyone who donates to the food drive during the month of March receives a recipe book.  March is about half over, and we already have a large box full of food!  The employees have been discussing what they plan to bring in and what a benefit it will be to replenish the food pantry.  The donations have been increasing steadily, which will be a real miracle to the patients who use the food pantry.  Watching the employees come together as a community to help those in need is truly inspiring!

Great story #3 –
My name is Kerry Anderson, and I serve through AmeriCorps with the Monroe County YMCA. With the Y, I assist in the Energize program as well as Fit Trips, health fairs in the vicinity of Bloomington and the surrounding areas, and other such events. The Energize program, which is the main area I help out in, goes into four different elementary schools in Bloomington (Templeton Elementary, Arlington Elementary, Project School, and Highland Park Elementary), with a program on nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Myself, my supervisor Nancy, and a team of a couple other people go into these schools every week with our lesson plan.

We go into the same classes every week, which allows me to develop friendships with some of the children in the classes. Perhaps because it is the first class of the week, or perhaps because of the group of children in the class, or a number of other reasons, I have come to especially treasure my time at Templeton Elementary.

Over the course of the months I’ve served as an AmeriCorps member with Energize, I have learned a little about the overall picture of each school we go to. Though this does not describe every child at Templeton, I have learned that many children there are in families where they are currently or have been homeless, have one or both parents in prison, and other such cases as this.

One girl in the class, I have noticed, has almost a completely different personality this semester than she did last semester. Last semester she said that she was living in a children’s shelter. She was disruptive, disrepectful, and talked back all the time to the adults in the room. This semester, she said she is living with her aunt, and often talks about her grandma, too.

This home situation has seemed to affect her school self greatly, as this semester she sits up straight, is respectful, and always raises her hand to answer questions. When my supervisor asked the children in the class what they did over Spring Break, and how they had used their muscles, the girl I described raised her hand and told a story about how she was talking to her grandma recently and told her that the eye muscles are the most used muscles in the body. (Our Energize program taught the children about the muscular system the week before Spring Break). The girl said her grandma asked how she knew that, and she responded “Because the YMCA taught me it.”

To hear her say that made me and all the other adults in the room associated with Energize smile. It was so incredible to hear one of the people we are teaching all the information about healthy lifestyles say on their own accord that they had been talking about the positive effect we have on them. It made me feel as though I really am making a positive change in the world.

Important Quarter 2 Highlight –
We leveraged 115 volunteers and engaged over 6000 people in health education programs! Keep up all the hard work, members! Everyone is doing a great job!

AmeriCorps Week Update –
In case you haven’t heard, CNCS pushed AmeriCorps Week from May 7-14 to May 14-21, 2011.

Despite this minor setback, our AmeriCorps Week service projects have been decided.
One project will be building a couple of raised garden beds for those that are wheelchair-bound at the Felege Hiywot (“looking for direction to life”) Community Garden Center in Indianapolis, IN. The project will take place on May 21st.
The other project is called Making PACES – Steps Towards A Healthier You. The event is designed to help emphasize and promote the importance of exercise. The event will be hosted on May 7th at Bryan Park from 12-3pm.

I am very impressed with each AIHTI member! Each and every one of you have put in a lot of effort at your host sites and other projects this term. Keep it up, ladies and gentlemen!

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