Tags: americorps, Lake Erie Ink, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio
As my year of service begins a trudge through the winter, I’ve spent some time thinking about the best moments of this Fall. And while there are a lot of small ones – brief moments of growth or connection with some of the kids – one is a little more obvious.
Lake Erie Ink ends each of its quarters with the release of a culminating anthology of the students’ work. This year, each anthology release will correspond with a performance and cd release for the one-day-a-week digital media project as well. This Fall, I was charged with compiling the students’ work, designing, laying out, and ultimately publishing the anthology. And while it was stressful for me at times, pouring through the work the kids chose to include was one of the most meaningful things I’ve been allowed to do this year. It was an exercise in allowing them to have the ultimate creative control. They didn’t always pick the pieces I would have picked for them, but rather, the ones they liked the most, the pieces they felt represented them, the ones they had the most fun telling.
And then anthology release day came, and handing over the anthologies took some of the same practice of giving over control. Some kids immediately took to the cover like a coloring page: filled it in with marker, wrote their name across the carefully drawn fire image in bright red. Part of me cringed, but another part recognized that no gesture could be more perfect. The anthology is not mine (not except for the pristine one sitting on my drawing board at home). It is a collection of their work and an acknowledgment of their responsibility for their own words, their ownership and control over their own voice. What simple act represents that better than 35 anthologies, each with a different name written loudly across the cover?
After the anthologies were passed out, the kids were given the opportunity to read their work. We had plenty of other opportunities for sharing over the course of the quarter: moments at the end of the day, an afterschool program advocacy event, and a “camp fire” to culminate our storytelling month in November. None, however, were as charged and excitement filled as when the kids read for the anthology release. Kids who hadn’t before been willing to read were raising their hands, going to the front of the room, announcing the page number and sharing a piece. And seeing them grasp those anthologies in their hands, scribble their names across the front, and then put their work out into the world in front of their peers was by far my favorite moment from Lake Erie Ink’s Fall quarter. There was nothing so meaningful as seeing the kids I’ve worked with all semester take ownership over their own words.
- Written by Lydia
Tags: americorps, City Year Cleveland, Golden Ciphers, Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio, ServeOhio, service, volunteer
Check out the press release below from ServeOhio. For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, NEO Literacy Corps will divide into two groups to partner with City Year Cleveland and to serve at Golden Ciphers in Slavic Village in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of community involvement and service.
Grants support seven local community service projects and nearly 1000 volunteers throughout Ohio
Columbus, OH. –ServeOhio, the Governor-appointed commission on service and volunteerism, announces mini-grant awards to support seven local Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service projects on January 21, 2013. The grants, made possible through their Stewards of Service corporate partners Honda of America MFG., Inc. and AEP Ohio, honor Dr. King’s legacy by increasing economic opportunities through service and volunteer activities. Service projects will take place in Cleveland, Columbus, Lebanon, McArthur, Mansfield, Akron and Toledo.
Each project commits to bringing volunteers together to create or improve community assets or infrastructure, and supports local community engagement that advances economic opportunity. The various projects include collaborative partnerships among businesses and nonprofits. Finally, they all include an education component to create long-term, sustainable change on issues and people.
“As the need for service continues to grow, we honor Dr. King by supporting local organizations that give back and make a real impact on our communities,” said William Hall, ServeOhio Executive Director. “Ohio volunteers will use the power of service to strengthen economic security and make a difference in our local communities.”
ServeOhio awards these grants with support from their 2012-2013 Stewards of Service corporate partners Honda of America MFG., Inc. and AEP Ohio. Each grant totals between $800 and $1,000.
The 2013 MLK Day mini-grant recipients:
City Year Cleveland, Cleveland – City Year will organize 450 volunteer youth, parents and local citizens at five schools and community organizations for the “MLK Day On of Service.” According to the Ohio Department of Education Report Card, 100 percent of families living in these Cleveland communities are economically disadvantaged or eligible for free/reduced lunch. On January 21st, volunteers will organize and participate in MLK poem/essay contests, repaint classrooms, perform basic maintenance, beautify central meeting areas and make 200 hygiene and support kits for military veterans. Collaborators include: the grassroots service initiative Do Something Day, HandsOn Northeast Ohio and WZAK FM Radio.
HandsOn Central Ohio, Columbus– The goal of HandsOn Central Ohio’s (HOCO) MLK Day 2013 service project is to mobilize youth and teach them how to lead others in service projects to address local community needs. They will partner with The King Arts Complex for their annual MLK Day Open House which traditionally draws 5,000 youth and families. HOCO will provide a leadership training on tools needed to lead service projects. Other projects include youth decorating a bus seat to symbolize Rosa Parks’ courage, creating flower bouquets for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, assembling fleece blankets for residents of the YWCA Family Center, and creating cards of thanks to American troops serving overseas.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Coalition of Lebanon, Ohio, Inc., Lebanon – The mission of the coalition is to honor Dr. King’s vision of justice by building an inclusive network of people and organizations that work toward empowerment for all people. Needs assessment data from the Family and Children First Warren County Community Report 2011 indicate that a growing number of community members face significant challenges in multiple life areas. 125 volunteers will provide direct service by hosting a community meal, painting the veteran’s hall at the American Legion Post, setting up local nonprofit resource tables at the host site space, organizing a collection drive and stuffing envelopes for the Child Advocacy Center. The coalition will organize an additional 125 volunteers to continue the service throughout next year.
Sojourners Care Network, McArthur – Vinton County is the least diverse county in Ohio, where 97.6 percent of the population is Caucasian. Sojourners Care Network spearheads the only MLK Day Celebration and community service project in the county. On January 21st, 20 teachers, 50 Sojourners staff and 40 community volunteers will provide services to the 828 elementary school children. They will assemble MLK skits, highlight tolerance, provide Civil Rights history, and use the ‘MLK Day Express’ – a one-engine, two-car train – to share Dr. King’s message and engage the students.
SPARC, Mansfield – The Big Red Bookshelf will put books into the homes of young, low-income children ages 0-7 and provide free literacy screenings. The first book drive will kick off on January 21st at the MLK Memorial, but several locations will host ongoing book shelves where children can continually take books home to keep. The grants also support the purchase of ‘Getting Ready to Read Assessments,’ which are screening tools and information tool kits for parents.
The University of Akron, Department of Student Life, Civic Engagement Programs, Akron – 50 University of Akron students will volunteer with Nazereth Housing to revitalize neighborhoods across Akron city. Nazereth Housing values the same vision as MLK – coming together to regenerate communities. Volunteers will construct and rebuild several low-income properties that require interior and exterior construction/demolition work, along with landscaping.
University Church, Toledo – According to the Ohio Department of Education Report Card, Reynolds Elementary School designation is ‘academic watch.’ This MLK Day project tackles the schools’ goal to increase parent involvement in the education of their children. Volunteers from the school, University Church and A Renewed Mind will create the “Parent Zone” at the school. They will develop, paint and decorate a community area for parents to minimize barriers between home and school. Inside, the Resource Board will include information for updated community services, emergency assistance, job training programs, health services and the history of Dr. King’s legacy.
According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report released this month, Ohioans contributed $5.7 billion of service contributed through 255.3 million hours of service in 2011. Find out more about volunteer engagement in Ohio at www.serveohio.org.
ServeOhio is Ohio’s Governor-appointed Commission on Service and Volunteerism. Their mission is to strengthen Ohio communities through service and volunteerism by supporting and funding programs and initiatives that engage thousands of Ohioans of all ages. Interested participants may learn more about ServeOhio at www.serveohio.org or visit them on Facebook and Twitter.
Tags: americorps, Bellaire-Puritas, cleveland, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio
This great story is going to be a little different since no single moment made a big impression this month, and I figured the holidays are the time to reflect about the past year. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and knowledge that AmeriCorps has given me just in the last couple of months.
I started the year graduating from Case Western Reserve University a semester early, and quite frankly did not know what to do with myself. My original plan was to get a job at home in order to gain experience in the child care field since I wanted to apply to graduate programs in school counseling and had heard that graduate schools really value experience. Well, that plan went down the tubes as I struggled to find a job since I didn’t have much practical experience coming out of school. I ended up working a job in food service, which made me pretty miserable because I felt like I wasn’t working towards my original goal, and also had left friends back at school.
After seven months of feeling pretty despondent and frustrated, I finally looked at the AmeriCorps website after some encouragement from my mother. I had heard about it before, but never knew the variety of programs that they offered! I applied to a couple of programs around the Cleveland area, and was fortunately accepted by NEO Literacy Corps with the Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation’s afterschool program.
The past 4 months have been a growing journey. I learned a lot of fun and exciting things about the Cleveland area that I never knew during my undergraduate career. I also gained experience working with primary school-age children, which has been both useful for graduate school applications, and personally rewarding. I am really happy with where I am with my life, and I have to thank NEO Literacy Corps and AmeriCorps for aiding in that journey.
- Written by Julia
Tags: americorps, Esperanza Inc, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps
This month, I went out on a limb and asked some academic departments at Cleveland State University if they could help me get the word out that Esperanza, Inc. is accepting volunteer applications. I also got in contact with the main Cleveland Public Library asking if they could help by sending out a flyer I put together to all the other Cleveland Public Library locations to put up on their bulletin boards. Both contacts have given support to Esperanza. In January, I hope the students who are required to receive tutoring will be able to get it and benefit academically.
- Written by Adria
Tags: americorps, cleveland, job, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, Northeast Ohio Literacy Corps, ohio, Program Director
2013 brings a year of transition for me. I have been granted a scholarship to earn my Master’s degree in International Public Health and will be moving to Sydney, Australia in February to begin studies. I am sad to leave my AmeriCorps family, but excited about the new opportunities this additional education will provide.
The Literacy Cooperative, our strong community partner in our AmeriCorps project, will continue to be involved during the leadership transition, as well as in the preparation and support of Year 4 programming.
Please review the open Northeast Ohio Literacy Corps Program Director position below, and share with interested and qualified individuals.
Position: AmeriCorps Program Director, Northeast Ohio Literacy Corps (position is grant-funded in 3-year increments, renewable on an annual basis)
Salary: Commensurate with Experience
Supervisor: Director of Programs
Hours: Full-time / Exempt
The AmeriCorps Program Director, housed at University Settlement, is responsible for cultivating a culture of service through the administration of the NEO Literacy Corps AmeriCorps grant. Responsible for timely and accurate documentation for host sites, project lead, fiscal agent, AmeriCorps members, and the Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism (ServeOhio). The Program Director will work with host sites to recruit, train, retain, develop, and supervise AmeriCorps members to fulfill stated program outcomes.
1. Grant management including review of AmeriCorps member time, program invoices, program performance measures and AmeriCorps grant match. Assist in writing, reviewing and submitting the AmeriCorps grant through the eGrants online portal system.
2. Manages and develops relationships with current host sites and members and with potential new host sites and member candidates.
3. Conducts annual recruitment, placement, and training for diverse and qualified AmeriCorps members.
4. Publicizes annual recruitment for new host sites. Reviews host site applications and selects new and returning host sites. Provides orientation, on-going training, and networking opportunities for program host sites.
5. Supports and leads member training, professional development and recognition activities. Coordinates training opportunities and member professional development opportunities with the training consultant.
6. Communicates the mission, goals, and outcomes of NEO Literacy Corps and the importance of national service to stakeholders, including members, host sites, donors, ServeOhio and to the broader community through presentations, print and online media.
7. Uses OnCorps to complete quarterly progress reports, great stories, demographics, successes/challenges and best practice reports to ServeOhio. Manages member data, enrollment and Eli Segal education award through eGrants online portal system.
8. Attends ServeOhio meetings and other applicable conferences
9. Promotes effective communication within and between AmeriCorps members, host sites, University Settlement, as the project lead, and the Literacy Cooperative, as the fiscal agent.
10. Participates in community/public relations activities for University Settlement; participates in professional or program-related networks, as appropriate.
11. Maintains and updates Program Director’s manual.
Other Functions: Attends all managers and staff meetings; contributes to organizational decision-making through active participation; works effectively and positively with all co-workers and volunteers and participates in professional or community networks, as appropriate; must be able to work a flexible schedule including occasional evenings and weekends; other duties as assigned.
Qualifications or Skills Required: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience; minimum two (2) years experience in program management with job tasks including grant management, training, electronic outcomes reporting and negotiating community partnerships; excellent organizational and communications skills; ability to work independently and be self-motivated; proficient with Microsoft Office products; collaborative and cooperative working style. Must have and maintain a valid Ohio Driver’s License. Preferred: Master’s degree; minimum one (1) year experience as a volunteer or staff in a U.S. based domestic or international service organization; along with all required skills.
Application Deadline: Open until filled. Interested applicants should forward resume along with three (3) references to:
4800 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44127
Fax: 216-641-7971. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (No phone calls please)
For more information about AmeriCorps, please see: http://serveohio.org
Internal applicants must be in their current position for at least six months to apply.
Tags: americorps, Heights Observer, Lake Erie Ink, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps
Check out this story published in the Heights Observer on January 2, 2013 about Lake Erie Ink and a writing project led by their AmeriCorps Member, Lydia.
Foam houses, each displaying a student’s work, sit on the lawn at Lake Erie Ink.
View Image Gallery
A week before Halloween, students at Lake Erie Ink’s Ink Spot after-school program were asked to write a description of a house on three-dimensional foam panels. The goal was to teach the concept of personification, giving human traits to nonliving objects. The results surprised the staff.
The project was the idea of Lydia Munnell, an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Northeast Ohio Literary Corps stationed at Lake Erie Ink, a Heights-based nonprofit co-founded by Amy Rosenbluth and Cynthia Larsen that provides writing opportunities for young people.
“I expected spooky houses full of vampires and ghosts,” said Munnell. “What I didn’t prompt or expect was for every description to be a realistic and heartbreaking sketch of an abandoned house.”
“When we broke to write, the kids were quiet and started immediately. I was excited for what they’d produce, but still assumed it would be a bunch of stories about haunted houses with bloody walls. I would have accepted those stories—part of what I feel so strongly about at Lake Erie Ink is that Amy and Cynthia have created a space where kids feel free to write what they want—but I should have known they would go deeper.”
As Munnell moved among the foam houses, reading, a pattern emerged. “Every kid had written a story about a lonely, abandoned house,” she said. “Without even trying, they had co-written the story of a generation of Cleveland kids. It was the fruit of the housing crisis, and it was their real lives. They knew about the shadow an abandoned house casts on a neighborhood and front yards scarred by the constant stabbing of ‘for sale’ signs because these houses are on their streets.”
“They weren’t prompted to write about foreclosure, and if they had been, what came out wouldn’t have been nearly so organic or honest,” said Munnell.
Lake Erie Ink, located in the Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd., provides academic support and opportunities for young people in Greater Cleveland to express themselves through creative writing. To learn more or to volunteer, visit www.lakeerieink.org or contact Lydia Munnell at 216-320-4757 or email@example.com.
Selected student works:
I watch as the children pass me and think about how ugly I am, as I slope down the hill. My eyes are gone and feet are barely there. I wish someone would say ‘Hey that’s a nice house. How about we live in it and make it all pretty?’
I wish someone would move in and spill tea on me, my old, slow petite self. The kids never see me and run into me. I wish they wouldn’t ruin me anymore.
My garden was once lively, but now no more. The weeds spread over me and hide a little of me. Maybe I’m grateful, maybe not.
Oh! Look a new family! Will they choose me? Yes!-Now I am pretty and dearly loved. My life is accomplished. SO now I can drift away forever and ever.
—Sarah M., 5th Grade
I knew they would be leaving soon but I didn’t know they’d be leaving as soon as right now.
Maybe they’ll come buy me, but maybe they will not. I hope they do because I want someone to sleep inside me.
I wish my tongue could reach out and feed the people to me and maybe they might come live inside of me.
I’ve been home so long. I wish I could stand up and be a person, but all my windows see is the grass and the sky and when the tourists come by.
—Tyler G., 4th Grade
My chipping yellow paint and purple falling shutters get covered up in snow. Why don’t the people shovel my way or pick my raspberries? No one ever even rocks on my swing on my porch!
As we were driving down Mulberry Avenue, we came to a stop. This is it! We all got out and ran up to enjoy the pretty swing, colors, and structure. I know it sounds crazy but I’m pretty sure I saw her smile.
You would never believe what’s happening! A nice family of 2 children and 2 adults finally moved in! They fixed up my paint, watered my garden, and made my squeaky swing stop squeaking.
It’s summer now and were picking raspberries, growing flowers and swinging on out porch swing
And finally I feel at home.
—Emma H., 5th Grade
He’s cold. He needs water and needs somebody to blow bubbles in him once in a while.
He remembers when they used to mark the wall with a circle.
He misses the bubbles they use to blow.
I can remember well, especially when they burst.
—Javon Y., 5th Grade
I have lived through many years.
I am small but strong.
Many people have lived in me.
Now I am only home to cobwebs,
spiders, and dust.
—Lily W., 5th Grade
Tags: americorps, cleveland, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio
After much discussion, phone calls and emails, we settled on a field trip to the Natural History Museum for the regular attendees of the GED science class. (I had dug myself into a rut of classroom work in the same old format, day-in and day-out so one day I asked the students to give me feedback on GED classes at the shelter and what things we might add. Field trips were unanimously applauded.)
There were four students and Paul, the science teacher, and me. In the van on the way to the museum everybody was joking and laughing. Freedom and adventure ruled! Once we arrived however, everyone hushed and looked reverently around at the displays and exhibits. We ran through more science in an hour and a half than we ever would have in the classroom! Curiosity and discovery dominated our group. You could almost feel the brain cells opening up and absorbing new information!
Paul generously treated us all to lunch and during this pizza bonanza we talked about our favorite exhibits and bits and pieces we’d learned. If only we could do this every week! It was exciting and invigorating to step outside and do something different. I am pledging myself to further field trips during 2013 for 2100 students.
- Written by Annie
Tags: americorps, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio
November is the time to reflect on the things that I am grateful for. Usually this is the time of year that I begin to experience some depression until the first of the new year. There was a time that I did not give any credence to the psychologist who published the study that says “more people experience during depression during the holiday.s. But over the last couple of years I have noticed a change in my attitude so I began to think there may be something to this.
But this year because I have seen many individuals in a condition much worse than mine it was hard to be down or depressed (at least to the degree that I usually become). I have the ability to not only make a change in my life but to make a difference in theirs. That was the brightest thought that I could have had. I am actually beginning to look forward to seeing Christmas lights this season.
I was proud that I noticed some growth this season. It will make it easier for me to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season.
- Written by Sandra
Tags: afterschool, americorps, Lake Erie Ink, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, ohio
Maybe it’s all the leftover turkey I’ve consumed of late, or all the family and friends I’ve been privileged to see, but I feel like this is a great opportunity to do an around-the-table style ‘What I am Thankful For’ statement. So, here goes: I am thankful for NEO Literacy Corps and for my host site, Lake Erie Ink.
When I talked to my mom a few months back about the decision to leave my full-time cashier job at a chain organic grocery store and serve (at that point only hopefully with LEI) through NEO Literacy Corps, she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I thought she would be. She did, however, encourage me to do the math (which, at $10 an hour, came out in favor of the grocery store) but also to decide which one I would enjoy more — which one would be most beneficial in terms of my personhood and my education. For me that had a lot to do with challenge. Being a cashier is challenging in certain ways: my back was sore every night, and I had to play games in my head to get myself through every 8 hour shift. But I was looking for something that would challenge my ideas, make me think, and encourage my own writing. And in terms of those questions, Literacy Corps won by a landslide.
And now, about 3 months in, I can say that to an extent, I was right. Being afterschool program coordinator and volunteer coordinator at Lake Erie Ink: A writing space for youth is, in fact, challenging in those ways, but that’s only part of why I’m thankful for this experience. The rest is about mentorship. The time and attention that my supervisors, Amy and Cynthia, have given me helps me decide every day what kind of person I want to be and how I want to live in the world. There will always be challenges in working with other people: Sometimes my instincts aren’t right, and sometimes I sabotage myself. All in all, though, they have been patient with me, guided me, and taken extra time to talk to me about whatever it was that needed attention. I think that the biggest mistake teachers can make is to pretend that the classroom is a vacuum – that what happens outside ought to be left at the door and that learning ought to take place unfettered by whatever personal stuff we bring to the table. It’s a mistake because it denies the way our experiences color and can ultimately enrich what it is we learn, and I don’t know anyone who can compartmentalize their life and selves so tidily anyway.
That’s what I’m so thankful for this year. Amy and Cynthia have treated me honestly: as a learner and as someone who is trying to learn how to be in the world. They haven’t once denied me the experiences that color my service, and for them, for this opportunity, for my time so far, I am extraordinarily thankful.
- Written by Lydia
Tags: americorps, computer literacy, literacy, NEO Literacy Corps, Towards Employment
A former GED student was waiting outside my office the other day. C. looks younger than his years but having served 25 years for a serious crime, he’s been around the block more than once. C. came to classes for a short time then disappeared. He got a job at Dave’s Supermarket and also took on the four week course at Towards Employment. What he wanted to show me was his certificate for the completion of the job training and computer classes he took at TE. And clearly, he wanted to share a bit of his story to maximize the full impact of his success.
In a few minutes, he outlined the course of his life, having spent the majority of it behind bars for a serious crime. He described himself as a “bad man.” Released this past July, he was fully driven to make the most dramatic changes he could for the good. Never having touched computers before, thanks to his time with TE, he had gotten his own email account and corresponded with his family in North Carolina. He kept how amazed he was at himself–that he could have learned this and much more–how to present himself confidently and positively at job interviews, how to fill out online job applications. It was as if he’d entered the 21st century only in the last four months and had moved from horse & buggy to rocket engine in that short time span.
He broke down in tears as he talked about all the people who helped him achieve these things along the way–his community coordinator at the shelter and the amazing folks at Towards Employment. C. kept repeating, “You have no idea how proud I am and how grateful I am for all the help! I never ever dreamed I could do all this!” C. is a shining example of what can happen when self-motivation meets instruction and great counseling. I have no doubt he will succeed.
- Written by Annie