By: JoAnn Schinderle, Community Networking Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
Last Friday, HOTC along with American Express & Delta organized a school beautification project for Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul, MN. With the theme “Global Feast”; major projects included building a sustainable salsa garden, mosaic stepping stones, and interactive presentations from local Chef, Stewart Woodman (Heidi’s) on how to make fresh spring rolls, which students got to roll themselves and feast for lunch.
Volunteer’s literally got their hands dirty super dirty actually. Unpredictable rain didn’t stop our crew from creating a mud bucket brigade in order to finish the salsa garden on time. Smiles & determination were kept, along with the notion of how the students will benefit & learn from the finished product.
“It’s gratifying to work on projects that have a visible beginning & end. This project is especially cool because of the sustainability aspect; I definitely want to come back in the summer to check on the garden’s growth.” – Corporate Volunteer
Among the group of volunteers were parents of Capitol Hill students. They were extremely pleased with the small and large projects of the day. One parent commented, “These [projects] were all things that we needed and/or wanted to be done but we needed the people power to accomplish. It’s amazing how so much work can get done in such little time.”
Also digging in the dirt side by side with volunteers were our very own HandsOn Twin Cities AmeriCorps members. Last Friday’s project was a great way to close AmeriCorps Week. Large scale projects like Capitol Hill create a sense of community by bringing together students, parents, teachers, and community volunteers in an interactive way while engaging them on a personal level.
HOTC AmeriCorps members shared their insight in regards to how they believe their work is benefitting not only the community, but allowing them to gain professional tools necessary to grow in the workplace and beyond.
“As a young person growing up in the throes of corporate America, I have been exposed to a great deal of conversation regarding the drudgery of the common workplace. Living in a fast-paced society overcommitted to ideals of productivity and efficiency lends itself all too readily to burn-out, dissatisfaction, and an overwhelming sense of monotony. This morning as I considered my work, I wondered how I had managed to escape this grinding sense of obligation and lack of purpose. I am grateful that even in a struggling economy, AmeriCorps has offered me the opportunity to discover and exercise my interest in creating avenues for young people to become engaged in service and be successful in their communities. Through my AmeriCorps position I have been able to develop connections with the community and youth I serve, my fellow AmeriCorps members, and the greater nonprofit sector in the Twin Cities and these relationships have cultivated in me a greater sense of purpose, motivation, and personal responsibility. I am both challenged and energized by my work in a manner that has allowed me to develop personally and create meaningful programs for HandsOn Twin Cities. My two AmeriCorps terms have facilitated a smooth transition from academia into the working world and have fostered within me the desire to pursue my passions and travel along the path of lifelong service to my community.” – Abby Gaul, 2nd Term AmeriCorps National Direct member, Student Engagement Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“One of the biggest benefits of serving at a volunteer resource center is that we are encouraged to seek out creative and meaningful ways to contribute to the community—and step out of our cubicles. At HandsOn Twin Cities, we are granted 16 hours per month for volunteering. Because of this benefit, I have had numerous fun and valuable experiences: helping adult ELL students put their stories on paper, assisting job-seekers with their résumés, carrying heavy boxes of milk and soup for a food shelf, guiding clients at Project Homeless Connect, and selling raffle tickets at a community duck race. These volunteer experiences, however small they may seem, have been very significant to my work at HOTC. As Nonprofit Outreach Coordinator, it is important for me to learn all I can about the thriving nonprofit community in the Twin Cities. Even more, I have personally grown by gaining a more comprehensive view of the spirit, diversity, and resilience of Twin Cities inhabitants.” – Andrea Donahue, AmeriCorps National Direct member, Non-Profit Outreach Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“AmeriCorps has been a great place to stretch my professional wings. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to build my resume with the grace of a supportive and encouraging team of professionals behind me. HandsOn Twin Cities has been a positive place to be as a young professional and I’ve enjoyed the autonomy and support they’ve extended as I’ve taken my skills and experiences and put them to work on something new. I will move on from this experience having gained practical and professional skills in program management, project development, volunteer management and supervision, grant writing, and nonprofit outreach. Furthermore, I’ve been able to put my values to work all the while strengthening the community I am proud to be a part of.”- Angela Carlson, AmeriCorps VISTA member, Project Development Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“The best part about my job is visiting our non-profit partners and learning about the work that they do in the community. I think it is important for all community members to have a few non-profits which we have researched, been involved with and support wholeheartedly. I also very much enjoy working with community members who are committed to improving the Twin Cities and making it a great place to live for everyone.” – Erika Dani, AmeriCorps National Direct member, Non-Profit Outreach Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“As I reflect upon my AmeriCorps term, I recognize that I am very grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve had and for the individuals that I’ve met along the way, and I cannot believe how fast time has flown by! I feel very fortunate; not only to have been able to utilize my college degree to assist in carrying out the programming and mission of HandsOn Twin Cities, but for everything that I’ve learned from my position as well. During the American Express/Delta service project at Capitol Hill Elementary, I was chatting with one of the parent volunteers who was very interested in learning about my AmeriCorps experience and proceeded to ask me a slew of thought-provoking questions; the final one being, “Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently?” To that, I simply answered, “Not at all, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.” – Liz Jones, AmeriCorps National Direct Member, Community Networking Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“Through my term as an AmeriCorps member I have become more in tune with the needs of my community and the various works being done in efforts to address, remedy, and at very least create awareness throughout the metro area. Even though this is my 5th year living in Minneapolis, I have felt more connected and empowered to live here than ever before based on the exposure I’ve gained both personally and professionally. I am thankful to have tapped into this culture of people with “do-good” mindsets & action orientated hearts. Its one thing to talk about issues affecting our fellow neighbors and it’s another to jump in feet first and get things done. I am extremely thankful my job allows me to do both, even in the same day.” – JoAnn Schinderle, AmeriCorps National Direct member, Community Networking Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
The best part of my AmeriCorps assignment is reaching out to nonprofits in the St. Paul community. I thoroughly enjoy researching nonprofits, conducting site visits with volunteer coordinators and assessing volunteer programs. It is a very rewarding experience when I am able to collaborate with an organization to build their volunteer capacity by utilizing the HandsOn Twin Cities Impact Now program.” – Matt Bielefeldt, AmeriCorps VISTA member, Project Development Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
“Through my position at HandsOn Twin Cities, I am provided with many wonderful opportunities. There are two particular parts that I truly enjoy. The first part is working with many different volunteers. I have the opportunity to network and connect with people from all walks of life and from all over the Twin Cities. Learning about the work that they do and what motivates them in their careers, free-time and everyday life is incredibly fascinating. This position has provided me with the opportunity to learn about the wonderful organizations and corporations there are right here in the Twin Cities. The second part of my position that I love is supervising and working with our Youth Advisory Board. At HOTC, our Youth Advisory Board tackles some of the most important issues in our community through the power of youth voice! Plus, I get updated on all of the latest trends! Who doesn’t want to hear about the latest trend and issues that mean the most to the voice of the future?” – Sarah Bain, AmeriCorps VISTA member, Youth & Student Engagement Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
Thank you to all of the staff at HandsOn Twin Cities, HandsOn Network, and HandsOn Corps for making our experiences throughout the year ones we will certainly take with us in all of our future endeavors.