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Summer of Service Part II

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on July 19, 2012

To help demonstrate the impact service and service members have, ServiceNation’s ServceNext Initiative has launched ‘Stories of Service,’ a summer-long series that will capture first-person accounts from service members currently deployed across the country.

In the series’ second post, Shayla Price talks about what she has learned about hunger in America while serving as a summer AmeriCorps VISTA member. If you missed it,  be sure to check out Shayla’s first post about why she wanted to spend her summer serving. 

As a summer AmeriCorps VISTA, I am on the front lines of a very important issue in America—childhood hunger. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 16 million children lived in food insecure households in 2010. With 1 in 5 children not receiving enough nutritious food on a regular basis, we must work together to end childhood hunger.

During my service, I have learned that hunger impairs children’s health significantly. Research shows that kids experiencing hunger are more inclined to get headaches, stomachaches, and colds. As they grow older, the children may even encounter harmful health consequences from obesity.

Moreover, hunger can hinder a child’s ability to learn and perform academically. A kid will not be able to concentrate and perform well in school.

The summer months can be a difficult time. Though more than 21 million American kids get free or reduced-price school lunch, only 3 million of those kids get a free summer meal. That’s why I believe my commitment to serve is necessary to help improve kids’ access to healthy food.

Feeding America is helping lead the way to meet the nutritional needs of children during the summer. With assistance from food banks across the country, Summer Food Programs provide nutritious meals and snacks to food insecure youth. The programs are typically reimbursed through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

SFSP is designed to fill that nutrition gap, making sure children receive the healthy meals they need. To find meals in your community, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY. You will receive information on where kids can find summer sites in your area.

By serving with VISTA, I am directly helping with Kids Café, one of the summer food programs. This initiative provides free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, churches, and public schools. Some Kids Cafés programs even offer educational, recreational, and social activities, providing a safe place.

In Kansas City, the food bank Harvesters is partnering with agencies to offer 53 Kids Cafés across 26 counties in Missouri and Kansas. Children receive a free, wholesome meal and nutrition education at various sites, like community centers and low-income housing complexes.

As a VISTA member at Harvesters, I perform site monitoring and compliance inspections for Kids Cafés. For example, I verify that participating sites have adequate storage and refrigeration to keep meals, appropriate space to serve meals, and staff to administer the food. The VISTA team also monitors the sites for proper sanitation and recordkeeping.

I enjoy visiting Kids Cafés! The children are always eager to learn the day’s lunch menu. My site inspections play a vital role in guaranteeing that kids receive a healthy, free meal. With my passion and hard work, my AmeriCorps service is ensuring that hunger is not part of a kid’s summer vacation plans. Through VISTA, I have learned how one person can contribute to bringing individuals and communities out of poverty.

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign understands the importance of connecting kids to meals. The organization is traveling across the country to increase participation in the summer meals program, ensuring that no child goes hungry when school is out.

Let’s end childhood hunger together! Give money. Give time. Give food. Find out how you can help your community. Contact your local food bank by visiting feedingamerica.org.

Shayla Price at the beginning of her summer of service  

About Shayla

R. Price is an attorney and an advocate for ending childhood hunger. She has promoted community service as a governor-appointed commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana. Prior to government service, Price worked as a marketing director for ProgressiveU.org, a social welfare organization that sought to give high school and college students a voice.

While in high school, she earned more than $100,000 in college scholarships. She authored the book titled “The Scholarship Search: A Guide to Winning Free Money for College and More.” She has been featured in several publications, including “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Seventeen,” and “Black Enterprise.” Price was also named one of EBONY magazine’s 2009 Young Leaders and received the first-ever Emerging Greatness Award.

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Posted in AmeriCorps, National Service, service, Stories Of Service | 3 Comments »

Summer of Service – Part I.

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on July 9, 2012

Shayla Price at the start of her summer of service

What does one think of when they think of a national service member?  The ideas are endless, which at once is both an advantage and challenge.  On the plus side, national service has been used to aid communities, states, and our nation in great times of need.  The downside is that there is not a singular definition or example that embodies the impact national service makes in our country every day.  To help demonstrate the impact service and service members have, ServiceNation’s ServceNext Initiative has launched ‘Stories of Service,’ a summer-long series that will capture first-person accounts from service members currently deployed across the country.

Our inaugural post in this series is from Shayla Price, an extraordinary woman who has devoted her life to service. She is serving for 8 weeks as an AmeriCorps VISTA member fighting poverty.

Summer of Service – Part I.

Guest post by Shayla R. Price

Service is an integral part of who I am. Through community service, I have had the opportunity to tutor kids, clean up parks, and raise money for great nonprofits.

As a commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana, a policy-making body for national service efforts in the state, I help distribute funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service to organizations and schools that make a substantial commitment to service. For the past three years on the board, I have heard countless positive, impactful stories from AmeriCorps members.

Those service experiences inspired me. That’s why I decided to join the front lines in the fight against poverty in America. Right now, I am officially an AmeriCorps VISTA! For a total of eight weeks, I will be serving at Harvesters, a food bank in Kansas City, Missouri.

Last week, my summer of service kicked off with great success. Alongside eight other VISTA members, I will be improving the lives of area residents by increasing their access to good, nutritious food.

Hunger is a real issue. In Harvesters’ 26-county direct service area, more than 375,000 people are food insecure.  Furthermore, 125,000 children lack access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. Learn about hunger facts in your area by visiting Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap.

During training, I learned that Harvesters has a network of more than 620 nonprofit agencies. Their network includes emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. The food bank provides assistance to more than 66,000 different people each week.

Feeding More. Feeding Better. Through Harvesters’ Agency University, the food bank equips its agencies with the necessary resources to feed its clients. Organizations do not pay for the food products. One of my duties will be to monitor these agencies through site inspections. The main purpose of monitoring is to ensure every agency is in compliance with the rules.

In my first week, I had the opportunity to observe the monitoring of a Kids Café, a program that provides free meals and snacks to low-income children. I learned about the USDA’s food safety rules, child nutrition labels, and civil rights compliance.

In addition, I participated in SNAP (food stamps program) outreach at a mobile food pantry. During the site visit, my fellow service members and I handed out brochures explaining SNAP eligibility requirements and benefits. We also helped the community members bag green beans and nectarines for distribution to the long lines of parents, kids, and senior citizens.

I am looking forward to building systems and creating solutions to fight hunger. With a great team of diverse individuals, I am ready to teach kids about nutrition, distribute food to seniors, and conduct SNAP outreach.  I truly believe in Harvesters’ mission—feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.

About Shayla

Shayla R. Price is an attorney and an advocate for ending childhood hunger. She has promoted community service as a governor-appointed commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana. Prior to government service, Price worked as a marketing director for ProgressiveU.org, a social welfare organization that sought to give high school and college students a voice.

While in high school, she earned more than $100,000 in college scholarships. She authored the book titled “The Scholarship Search: A Guide to Winning Free Money for College and More.” She has been featured in several publications, including “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Seventeen,” and “Black Enterprise.” Price was also named one of EBONY magazine’s 2009 Young Leaders and received the first-ever Emerging Greatness Award.

Posted in AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Millennial Generation, National Service, service, Stories Of Service, Volunteerism | 1 Comment »

Everyday Advocacy

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on May 24, 2012

Guest post by Amanda Lukas, a ServeNext District Captain.  Amanda is going into her senior year at University of Louisville in Kentucky. She is an alum of Bonner AmeriCorps program, which is a part time program for college students. 

Amanda Lukas with Michael Biagi of Senator McConnell’s office

When ServeNext asked me to lead two meetings with my Members of Congress as part of Save Service District Days, I was extremely nervous. My first question was would they even listen to me? As soon as it was discovered that I was a college student, with no real experience in these matters, I was afraid they wouldn’t listen. However, I agreed because I wanted to at least TRY.  So I set up meetings with Congressman Yarmuth and a staff member of Senator McConnell.

The first meeting with Congressman Yarmuth was very successful. He was already a supporter of keeping national service organizations in the budget. When I was doing my research, I began to realize that it wasn’t about convincing him to support us, but to encourage him to continue supporting us. He listened to me and the other two women at the meeting; he listened to our arguments and explained the dilemmas going on in Capitol Hill. He explained the arguments being used by the non-supporters.

There were a few important things that came from the meeting. One, the two women and I who had the meeting with Congressman Yarmuth gave the Congressman faces to associate with the issue; he now had personal testimony to bring back to Capitol Hill. Two, he gave us advice that could help kept national service organizations surviving. Three, he listened to what we had to say, which gave us all confidence that someone with more clout is paying attention to this issue. When we left the meeting, I think we made an impact. Again, it was with only one Congressman who already supported our argument, but it made enough of a difference, because it can take only one small action to make a huge change.

The next meeting I had with the staffer of Senator McConnell was something I walked into much more prepared and confident than I would have if I hadn’t met with Congressman Yarmuth first. I had to speak to the staffer by myself, with no other service supporters in the room. I had my arguments formed and my discussion points planned. It was something I was prepared for.

Again, I was listened to, and it seemed as if the staffer was impressed by how I could articulate my ideas and my arguments. The fact that I was a college student with seemingly little experience with this wasn’t a problem and didn’t hurt my credibility. My efforts made an impact. Maybe it wasn’t a large one, maybe it didn’t change any views, but these two representatives have a face and a name to put on this issue.

I just want to say very clearly what I learned from this- anyone can advocate. Not only that, though, but everyone already advocates every day.

Advocacy is defined as the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending.  Everyone advocates for something every day. Whether you are yelling at someone who cut the line, trying to talk your professor into giving you that extra point, or going to a rally to support a nominee, everyone advocates on some level every single day. It is part of our nature, isn’t it? If we believe in something, we advocate for it. We make sure the issue, whether it be a personal or political issue, is heard and given attention.

Every time you advocate for something, you make an impact, even if it only affects one person. I am going to keep on advocating for national service as a District Captain because every person counts.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, ServeNext, service | Leave a Comment »

From AmeriCorps Member to National Service Advocate

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on March 22, 2012

Katherine Jones with Sen. Blumenthal

Katherine with Senator Blumenthal

This post was written by ServeNext Organizer Katherine Jones 

My experience as a ServeNext Organizer empowered me to realize that I have a voice and can make a difference. Before my involvement with ServeNext, I wanted to be an advocate for national service, but I didn’t know where to turn or how to start. I felt like I was one of many in the community and that my voice would not be effective in making change. But throughout this year I gained valuable skills and I know now that I can use my voice for any issue that interests me.

I joined ServeNext right after finishing my year of service with AmeriCorps. I knew I wanted to continue being involved in the national service community and to also explore my interest in advocacy. ServeNext gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my passions and further my career at the same time.Through my work as an Organizer, I gained the experience and national network of contacts to make myself a sought-after commodity. The skills needed to be an Organizer are in demand, and it’s no wonder considering how much I’ve been able to accomplish during my time at ServeNext.

The skills I gained through ServeNext are already starting to pay off. I am going back to graduate school and applied for a competitive internship this summer. I was hired for the position and told that I was chosen over other candidates because of my experience with ServeNext.

I am especially proud of the meetings I was able to set up with Congresswoman Rosa Delauro of Connecticut and Congressman Frank Guinta of New Hampshire. Both meetings were very gratifying, but the meeting with Congressman Gunita was most inspirational because we changed his opinionof the value for service in New Hampshire. We were able to put service on the Congressman’s agenda and hopefully it will make a difference in the future when he thinks about cutting funding to national service programs.

The Organizer program is incredibly valuable to communities because the position works to unite the community. In New Hampshire, there were a variety of service professionals that wanted to get involved in advocacy efforts, but, similar to my experience, were unsure of what to do.  As an Organizer, I was able to collaborate with service professionals and work with them on developing ideas and strategies for advocating in their state.

As my term ends with ServeNext, I know that my time spent in New Hampshire ignited a fire that was waiting to be lit in members of the local community where I served and I know that they will continue to make a difference after I have left.

I encourage others who have a passion for national service advocacy to apply to be a ServeNext Organizer. The deadline is April 6 and you can apply online at www.servenext.org/2012.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Jobs/Internships, National Service, ServeNext, service, Stories Of Service | 4 Comments »

Big News: Hiring Nationwide to Expand Service

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on March 1, 2012

I’m thrilled to announce a major milestone for ServeNext – and even make a little history. 

We’re hiring a team of full-time ServeNext Organizers around the country.

This is a first for the national service movement and one of the exciting benefits of our merger with ServiceNation.  The timing could not be more critical.  The political climate is getting tougher because members of Congress have to make even more spending cuts.

You know that national service is one of the best investments around and deeply needed.  It’s time to get AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the entire Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) growing again!

We’re looking nationwide for leaders who are deeply passionate about national service and will relentlessly advocate on its behalf.

Can you help us find the best candidates?

We will select eight Organizers to work from June – December in their communities.  The application deadline is April 6.  We’ll be reviewing them on a rolling basis and encourage potential applicants to apply early. For more information visit:www.servenext.org/2012.

The 2012 field team will build on the tremendous impact of you, our current team of part-time Organizers, Voices for National Service, and tens of thousands more who fought back threats of elimination last year.  They will collaborate with these groups and others going forward to build the strongest voice yet for national service.

Help us spread the word loud and far. Tweetshare on Facebook, forward this email, or use a carrier pigeon — however you can best share this exciting opportunity.

Let us know if you need anything.  And thanks for your help,

Zach, Jerry, Morgan and the entire ServeNext + ServiceNation team

PS – Do you work at a national service organization with a newsletter or blog, know any good job boards, or have other ways to spread the word? Here’s a short description you can post:

ServeNext is looking nationwide for outstanding leaders who are deeply passionate about national service and ready to advocate relentlessly on its behalf.  The eight selected will work from June – December in their communities. We’re reviewing applications on a rolling basis with an April 6 deadline. To apply, learn more, or nominate an outstanding leader, visit www.servenext.org/2012

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Jobs/Internships, National Service, ServeNext, service | 1 Comment »

The Week in Service Highlights

Posted by ServeNext Staff on March 4, 2011

The last few weeks have been busy for the national service community with HR-1 passing in the House and proposed cuts to funding to the Corporation for National and Community Service. In this week’s service update, we’ll touch a little on the budget issues, but for a full list of current information and press on the fight to save national service, click here.

Students Kate Leist, Sam Novey, Caleb Jonas, and Frank Marino work to spread the word about the Save AmeriCorps campaign. Photo Credit: Suzanne Kreiter, Boston Globe Staff

1.) In an effort to save AmeriCorps from elimination or drastic budget cuts, Harvard grad student and AmeriCorps alum Caleb Jonas began circulating an online petition through the online organizing platform Change.org. Jonas hoped to reach 500 signatures, but the results far exceeded Jonas’ expectations: as of today he has over 100,000. Go here to read the Boston Globe article about the petition and here to read an article by Caleb, Kate Leist, and Mikia Manley in the Harvard Crimson.

2.) A new study conducted by the charity World Vision found that teenage girls are more likely than boys to support causes through social media. In fact, 51% of girls say that they have become more aware of the needs of others by “liking” the Facebook pages of different causes. These findings are important for the nonprofit community because they demonstrate the importance of using social media tools to reach out to the Millenial generation. For more information, visit Chronicle of Philanthropy blog post about this phenomenon or visit World Vision website which contains the complete results of the study.

TFA alumni and supporters at the 20th Annual Summit in DC

3.) A few weeks ago, Teach for America celebrated its 20th anniversary at its annual summit in DC with speakers such as Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a performance by John Legend. These speakers along with the energy of 11,000 TFA corps members, alumni, and supporters reinforced the idea that since its inception this program has made large strides in addressing the achievement gap. For a blog post about the event written by a TFA alum, visit the Corporation’s National Service Blog.

4.) Huffington Post blogger Kari Henley recently published an interesting post called “How to Start a Movement in 3 Minutes” about the sense of community behind mobilizing a group. She asserts that first there has be a leader, someone who isn’t afraid to make a fool of themselves standing up for what they believe in. Next comes what Henley terms “The Lone Follower” who validates the leader’s vision and thought process and then “The Second Follower” who “sells” the idea to others and helps convey the idea that the movement is an upcoming train. Finally, there is the “Lose-or-Snooze Follower” who joins in once it makes more sense to be a part of something than it does to watch a movement unfold. Henley asserts that each role is essential to growing a movement. Check out the full blog post here.

Posted in service, Social Innovation | Leave a Comment »

Senate’s Funding Recommendations for Service

Posted by Zach Maurin on July 28, 2010

The diligent and quick folks at Voices for National Service just emailed the info below.  For the Corporation for National and Community Service FY2011 budget, the Senate recommended $60 million more than the House, but $60 million lass than the President’s request.  In the context of AmeriCorps, the Senate’s budget would add 10,000 positions next year for 97,000 total.

It’s still a solid increase from last year’s budget, but we need both the House and Senate to meet the President’s request.  Service is an answer to rising social needs across a host of issues and unemployment.  We need people more engaged during tough times — and that takes resources, but service is a very cost-effective option.  More details below from Voices:

Senate LHHS Subcommittee Recommends $1.366B for CNCS in FY11
Mark is $215.9M above FY10 enacted, would fund additional 10,000 AmeriCorps slots

On July 27, the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a draft spending bill that includes $1.366 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This would be an increase of $215.9 million (18.8%) above the FY 2010 enacted level. Earlier this month, the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee approved a budget for CNCS of $1.305 billion, approximately $60 million below the Senate subcommittee mark. Both the House and Senate subcommittees are recommending funding levels below the President’s requested level of $1.416 billion.

According to the bill summary, the Senate’s appropriation would increase AmeriCorps participation from 87,000 members in 2010 to 97,000 in 2011. Further details, including the funding breakdown by program, will be available this week after the full Senate Appropriations Committee considers the LHHS bill on Thursday, July 29.

"" Click here for the FY 2011 bill summary approved by the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee (from the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee).
"" The House subcommittee approved $1.305 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service on July 15. Click here for more information.

There are many steps left in the appropriations process before final funding levels are enacted. Voices for National Service will continue to monitor the appropriations process and keep the field updated as details emerge. Congress will have to make tough decisions on national funding priorities, while they try to impose discipline on spending and reduce the deficit. Legislators must hear from constituents who are closely watching the levels appropriated to CNCS.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, service | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The search is on!

Posted by Zach Maurin on May 14, 2010

This week, we rolled out the first stages of our inaugural year of Field Corps, our community organizing program dedicated to building local, powerful grassroots networks in 10 areas around the country to advance service, Americorps, and social innovation.  We’re incredibly excited about the potential for this program, but we also need your help.

We’re looking for 10 exceptional leaders around the country.   These folks don’t need to have traditional organizing experience, but they do need to:

  • possess a strong background in the service field OR a genuine passion for the role service can play in addressing social challenges and improving democracy
  • be able to demonstrate a previous commitment to improving and serving their current communities
  • have experience organizing and motivating a group of people towards a common goal
  • plan to remain in their current community for the foreseeable future

Does this sound like someone you know?  If it does, nominate them at servenext.org/nominatefieldcorps.

We want to make sure that we’re hearing about truly amazing people.  To show our appreciation for nominations, we’re offering some prizes:

  • If you nominate someone who applies, we’ll send you a ServeNext t-shirt.
  • If you nominate someone who is eventually selected as one of the 10 organizers, we’ll send you a ServeNext t-shirt and a $50 gift card to your choice of iTunes store or Amazon.com.

Applications close on June 15, so make sure to get those recommendations in soon!

You can also help us spread the word on Facebook here and if you’re on Twitter, here.

Posted in ServeNext, service, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Vreebit,Vreebit

Posted by hlaverty on November 13, 2009


A VERY interesting article came out Wednesday about Vreebit.com, a new social networking site, launching a program called “Leaping For.” Members of the site can donate their “VreeBees” (virtual currency), to their favorite nonprofit and that organization receives up to fifty percent of the user’s VreeBee reward as a CASH donation at no cost to that user.

Vreebit entered the social networking scene at the end of September . Vreebit is to change the way people, connect, communicate and organize their professional lives. Members receive “VreeBees” as rewards for site activity, such as updating their status or referring someone.

I think this is a great idea. It avoids the exchange of credit card numbers and other personal identification numbers. I would love to see this idea go further. So far only one organization is listed, Lifeboat Foundation , but it literally just launched.

So if you or any organization wants to register click here and DO IT. It’s free and you can earn money for a great cause you support.

Posted in service, Social Media For Service, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Online volunteers needed

Posted by hlaverty on November 11, 2009

radar from The Weather Channel www.weather.com
I have been following Ida as it hit El Salvador yesterday as a hurricane. Today, it’s a tropical storm guranteed to bring heavy rainfalls and cause issues to those in living in the Gulf Coast. It’s definitely the topic of conversation online and I noticed something I had not seen before on Beth Kantor’s blog, online volunteers.

Andy Carvin, vlogger, blogger, NPR social media guy; man about town, tweeted about needing volunteers for Hurricane Ida (now a tropical storm) and needing volunteers to help update HurricaneWiki.org and this thread to help get volunteers going. It’s all very simple and just takes a few minutes to post something that will undoubtedly help those affected.

Now, if your from Michigan like I am, you don’t need to prepare for hurricanes (snow, yes, but not hurricanes). However, HurricaneWiki, a project of the Hurricane Information Center proves necessary after last year’s Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

When kept updated and maintained, people can use this online site to seek out help and to help others. It’s a great effective way of bringing resources together.

If you can help,please visit the Getting Ready for Idea site and the HurricaneWiki page .

Posted in Media, service, Social Media For Service, Uncategorized, Volunteerism | Leave a Comment »

 
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