AmeriCorps Week

AmeriCorps Week 2013 1

 

The Miami AmeriCorps Alums participated in Neighborhood Housing of South Florida’s 9th Annual Paint and Beautification Day in Brownsville on Saturday, March 16 in celebration of AmeriCorps Week 2013. We took many photos and posted them on our facebook page. Chapter leader Darrill Gaschler was also featured on a local tv news story recapping the day.

AmeriCorp Alums Grad School Networking Night

Grad School Photo

Over 30 AmeriCorps Alums – representing Peace Corps, City Year, Teach For America, VISTA, Public Allies and AmeriCorps State Direct — gathered for an informative night of networking and panel discussions around graduate school at John Martin’s Pub on February 28, 2013.

The event, co-sponsored by the Miami AmeriCorps Alums Chapter and the School of International Training (SIT), eased into the night with a half an hour of casual networking around hor d’oeuvres that featured scallions wrapped in bacon, chicken tenders and brochette.

After the networking, Heather Beard from the School of International Training did a 30 minute presentation on SIT and its emphasis on independent, experiential learning and international learning.

Beard added that S.I.T. has had a positive relationship with AmeriCorps starting from their founding as an institute to train Peace Corps Volunteers. They continue to support AmeriCorps Alums by offering tuition breaks for select organizations and offering a match on the Education Award.

“The S.I.T.School will match up to $5,500 of the Eli Segal Education Award. We also offer City Year Alum an additional 25% off of tuition,” Beard said.

The night culminated with an hour panel featuring Current Public Ally Chris Moreno, who earned his Masters in Education at the University of South Florida; Public Ally Alum Eneami Bestman, who got her Masters in American Government from Regent University and was now in Law School at St. Thomas; Teach For America Alum Amanda Davenport, who got her Masters at Columbia’s Teacher’s College and City Year Alum Corey White, who is pursuing his Masters degree in Community and Social Change at the University of Miami.

The panelists offered the gift of hindsight urging the audience to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources grad school had to offer.

“I would have owned my education more. There are opportunities to publish and do scholarly research in grad school, but you have to be in the professor’s faces.”….”You need to be involved in your educational career and milk it for all it’s worth,” said Eneami.

Chris echoed Eneami, saying he wished he would have taken advantage of other grad school resources more, “I wish I’d taken advantage of my career counseling office earlier on,” he said.

Audience members said they really enjoyed the event and got good information about grad school.

“This was a very well planned event. I really enjoyed it. I really liked the relatability of the people on the panel,” said AmeriCorps VISTA Jaheera White.

FIU Senior Farrah Joseph, echoed Jaheera’s positive sentiment about the event.

“I really liked it. Everyone is great and the SIT information and the pamphlets were also really informative,” Farrah said.

Career Webinar on LinkedIn

The AmeriCorps Alums are hosting an Introduction to LinkedIn webinar on Tuesday, January 29 at 12pm EST. Registration is free. The webinar is being taught by Bryan Breckenridge, an account executive with LinkedIn who focuses on the nonprofit sector. Bryan will teach you how to best use LinkedIn to advance your career after AmeriCorps and take over the nonprofit world in a kind, gentle manner.

Register today!

Guest Blog: How My Experience with ServeNext Changed My Life

Below is a blog entry in the Service Nation blog by chapter member Catherine Houlihan:

Before ServeNext, I didn’t believe that I was a true leader; I gave myself credit for being a great team player, but never viewed myself as an actual leader.  However, I would like to proclaim to the world that the quote “Leaders are born, not made” is a lie.  Why?  Because I am a perfect example of someone that may not have been born with leadership skills, but through experiences and my network, can now say:  I am a leader!

First, I’d like to reflect and ask myself:  What qualities was I born with?  I for one am innately shy, stubborn, and at times, extremely insecure.  When I feel strongly about something or have a passion for something that burns deeply from within, I always use that as a personal guiding force.  But am I a born leader that inherently wants to jump on a soap box and proclaim to the world, “This is right and that wrong.  Come follow me on the right path!”  Most certainly not!  That idea actually freaks me out.  Ironically, I was even told many years ago by one of my professors in a pre-college program that I simply have to accept the fact that I’m a follower, not a leader.

So when I was selected as the 2011 part-time ServeNext Miami Community Organizer, how did I feel?

- Intimidated.
- Scared.
- Completely unsure if I would be able to handle it.

But sometimes…you just have to suck it up and work with what you have.  And what I had was:  a passion for AmeriCorps and other national service programs, a love for my community, and an open heart that easily connects with people.  So I used those skills, and little by little, with the guidance from the ServeNext Field Director, Jerry Saavedra; the genuine enthusiasm of the ServeNext Co-Founder, Zach Maurin; the connections that grew over time between the other 2011 ServeNext community organizers throughout the nation, my established network of community partners and service recipients; and of course, the support from my loved ones…I made it happen.

I had never called a member of Congress before my involvement with ServeNext, and the first time I did, my heart was in my throat, and when Senator Marco Rubio’s staff member answered the phone, I was so nervous that I spoke a mile a minute and was asked to repeat myself s-l-o-w-l-y.  The second time I called was a little easier, and all the times after that were “a piece of cake.” ☺

Once I became comfortable with the process of contacting members of Congress, it was easy to put in the ask for my local network to do the same, and because national service touches the lives of so many people, they got on board.

Then, in my last few months as a part-time organizer, I was introduced to two Miami AmeriCorps Alums ChapterLeaders:  Darrill Gaschler and Kevin Bulger, and once they heard about ServeNext, they were all about making it a priority.  Within weeks, the ServeNext Miami chapter quickly propelled to a local, known entity in the Miami service community!

Soon after my year as a part-time ServeNext organizer ended, I enrolled in graduate school to pursue a master of public administration at Florida International University.  Later, I was introduced to an Obama Organizer who persuaded me to submit my name to the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.  I was later elected to represent my precinct.

Then, at the end of my first semester at FIU, I was invited to apply for the university-wide Anne Ackerman Public Service award.  Amongst the requirements, an applicant must be a Miami-Dade resident and display a passion for and involvement in public service.  My application’s essay focused on my love for AmeriCorps and my introduction to civic leadership through my experiences with ServeNext.  In mid-December, I was informed by the MPA Department Chair, Dr. Mohamad Alkadry that I was the first place award recipient.

And to think…before ServeNext, I had never called a member of Congress before — I actually didn’t even know the difference between the House and the Senate (I know…It’s embarrassing!).

So…was I born a leader or made into one?  I was most certainly made into one, and I have ServeNext to thank for giving me the opportunity to push myself into leadership roles that I genuinely feared, but later fully embraced.  If it wasn’t for ServeNext, I probably would not have had the courage to step up and become a leadership council member for the AmeriCorps Alums Miami Chapter or submit my name to be elected as a Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee Member, and I probably would not have been awarded the 2011 Anne Ackerman Public Service scholarship.

ServeNext made me into a leader.  There’s no doubt about that!

General McChrystal thinks more citizens should be in National Service

Gen. Stanley McChrystal explains why he think it’s important that more citizens serve.

AmeriCorps Alum Martin Heinrich Sworn in as U.S. Senator

Adopt-A-Family Story

The Miami AmeriCorps Alums adopted a family for the holidays with the Neighbor 4 Neighbors Adopt-A-Family program. The below is an short excerpt from one of our leading Chapter members, Diana, as she describes the moment she handed the gifts to the Ruiz family on behalf of all of us.  We want to thank everyone who contributed to make the holidays special for the Ruiz family and the rest of us alums. We wish everyone a blessed holiday season and a joyous New Year:
Adopt a Family December 2012

“First of all Happy Holidays, a big hug to all! There are many things I would like to talk about, yet I will  start with congratulating all for a Christmas mission accomplished!  The Ruiz family received their wish list thanks to all the contributions from the chapter.

I delivered the gifts with as much Christmas magic I could muster. In accordance  to the smiles and laughs produced I must say it had a positive effect.  I had several conversations with Clara in between lunch breaks and after hours in regards to making the present giving meaningful to the girls.  In the end, there was a lot of impromptu, and I had to wing it with some curve balls. Yet, it all smoothed out in the end, and we all had a good time.

I gave the girls 3 presents they could open right away.  The Play-Do candy making kit was a hit! Even the dad was into it!  In the meantime Clara and I sneaked out and placed the rest of the gifts outside.

A few minutes later,  there was a mysterious knock and the girls went out to see who it was… only to find out that Santa had left a table full of presents. They each took one and placed it under the tree.  We then ate some tamales, which where delicious! And I played with the girls a bit and took the Christmas tree photo.

To finish distributing the rest of the gifts in tradition of Three Kings Day, all the girls and mom put out one of their shoes so it could get stuffed with a present. Alicia the soon-to-be-5-year-old was the designated King’s messenger and placed a gift card in each of the designated shoes.  She was the most adorable little helper. She thought it was hilarious, and hid all the shoes behind the tree one by one.

I then said my goodbyes and left home with two tamalitos for breakfast.

I truly wished life was such that we could have all been there together, yet I know the Holiday spirit of giving follows this group year long.  Thanks for all the holiday cheer and spirit.  May you all be blessed with plenty of happiness and abundance everyday of your lives.

Felices fiestas to all Prospero an^o y felicidad!!!!!!!!!!!!”