2015 Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service

In 2015, the Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service set a Texas-sized record – the largest Mayor’s Day in the country.

In North Texas, Alums and currently serving members attended three events – one with the the Dallas County Commissioners Court, one with Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas, and one in Fort Worth. These events, in recognition for the dedication and transformative work of national service members across the North Texas region, were also well-attended by community members and other city officials.

AmeriCorps Alums and currently serving members with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

AmeriCorps Alums and currently serving members with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas County Commissioner's Court Event

Dallas County Commissioner’s Court Event

You can check out pictures from Mayor’s Days across the state by visiting the One Star Foundation’s website and checking out their newsletter.

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Life After AmeriCorps 2015

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The 2015 Life After AmeriCorps Conference was a huge success, with our many existing AmeriCorps Alliance of North Texas members and some new faces, including City Year – Dallas and the Cornerstone Assistance Network VISTA members.

You can check out pictures from the day on our Facebook page.

Highlights from the event include a presentation by Peace Corps recruiter and alum April Conway, supported by our own Jennifer Knoeber from Jericho Road Dallas, Job Search Skills training by City Year staff, Education discussion by Philip Haigh and a graduate school application and survival session from local alums Stephanie Fenniri and Dhriti Stocks.

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At the Education Award session, attendees learned that by signing up for AmeriCorps Alums, they were eligible for a variety of benefits, including free tax preparation.

An exciting keynote session with AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas’ very own chapter leader Lisa Tatum talked about the many ways in which attendees could continue their lifetimes of service and the opportunities that a lifetime of service could provide. As the winner of the AmeriCorps Alums 20th Anniversary National Leadership Award, Lisa had the opportunity to visit the Washington, DC and attend the celebration of the 20th Anniversary at the White House. She shared her story and advice for future generations. You can check out some information about Lisa’s DC adventure in the Volunteer Center of North Texas newsletter.

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2015 MLK Day of Service was a resounding success!

The AmeriCorps Alliance keeps getting things done here in North Texas. With three great projects and a Sunday supper over MLK weekend, AmeriCorps Alums and currently serving members in North Texas really had a great day ON.

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The weekend started off bright and early on Saturday with a Fire Prevention and Safety Canvassing project in Irving. Collaborators AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas, Volunteer Center of North Texas, City of Irving, the American Red Cross DFW, and Hope Worldwide brought together 355 volunteers to pass out 4,328 door hangers, visit 4,142 households, and talk to people about fire prevention and safety. A total of 1,142 conversations helped make the citizens of Irving safer.

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The AVANCE Dallas AmeriCorps members had an exciting time participating as part of the AmeriCorps Alums group. They were excited to be able to use their bilingual skills to talk to citizens who primarily spoke Spanish and provide essential fire safety information. They found that many of the families wanted even more information than they had on hand!

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The following Sunday Supper was also a great success. Alums and current AmeriCorps members from four different generations, races, and faith backgrounds came together to discuss service and the possibilities for civic engagement in North Texas. In true Texas style, we did it over the amazing pie at Joe’s Coffee Shop in Irving. We talked about spreading more awareness about volunteer opportunities and making sure people had the knowledge that they too, can serve. We discussed civic engagement, keeping up with local issues, and how some communities, like Denton, TX with it’s Drink N Think events facilitate this better than others. Most importantly, we heard perspectives from our millenial and Baby Boomer participants and realized we’re not so different after all.

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On Monday, MLK Day, CitySquare, Reading Partners, CityYear, Project Transformation, Boys and Girls Club, and the Teach for America College Corps got together to serve at the Trinity River Horse Park, working together to clean up and beautify the area. With about 100 people, it was not hard to pull hundreds of pounds of trash and debris out of the river and the surrounding trails.

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Those who were not outside cleaning were inside painting at the CitySquare food pantry at CitySquare’s new Opportunity Center. This project involved painting the walls and creating reflective art to display.

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North Texas’ Second Annual Graduate School Fair!

IMG_8918[1]Last year, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock joined with AmeriCorps Alums chapter all over the southern U.S. to recruit students for their graduate programs – programs that have some great benefits for AmeriCorps Alums!

This year, we did it again, and learned even more! Alex and Katherine introduced us to their programs and the unique ways in which AmeriCorps Alums benefit from opportunities like education award matching, scholarships, and domestic and international travel. They then joined two local AmeriCorps Alums attending graduate school on a panel to discuss the benefits and challenges of going to graduate school, and the exciting possibilities to which attending graduate school can lead.

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We learned:

  • The websites naspaa.org, idealist.org, and apsia.org are great resources for anyone considering graduate school or employment in public service careers. – Katherine, the Bush School
  • AmeriCorps Alums bring a higher level of commitment, experience with team work and hard work, and stellar financial management capabilities to their graduate school experience. – Stephanie, AmeriCorps Alum at PCCI
  • Higher degrees are useful so you have the experience and the confidence to take on new challenges at work. – Jennifer, AmeriCorps Alum and Executive Director at Jericho Road Dallas
  • Alex from the Clinton School reminded us that we should not focus on taking the 30th step from now – just take the next step and keep being flexible!
  • And as a bonus, we learned how to properly eat a cupcake!
Alex shows us how cupcakes should really be eaten.

Alex shows us how cupcakes should really be eaten.

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Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps in 3 Cities

AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas was busy on September 12, 2014 – celebrating the AmeriCorps 20th Anniversary in 3 different cities.

The North Texas event engaged 173 currently serving members and alumni in a morning of disaster preparedness activities and a service project and joined the national swearing in ceremony to share the moment with alumni across the country. Check out some photos below by Renee Fernandes and visit our facebook page to check out more pictures.

Lisa Tatum, our very own winner of the AmeriCorps Alums 20th Anniversary National Leadership Award, chapter leader extraordinaire, and the only winner in Texas of this recognition had a chance to visit the white house and take part in the national swearing in. You can check out some of her favorite pictures below and click here to watch the national swearing in ceremony.

Accepting the 20th Anniversary National Leadership Award on Lisa’s behalf, Dhriti Stocks visited Austin, TX to take part in celebrating the One Star Foundation’s 10th Anniversary and AmeriCorps’ 20th at a celebration of more than 900 individuals. You can click here to see video of the event and visit One Star’s Flickr to see pictures.

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North Texas Alum Recognized Nationally

AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas has been busy over the past several weeks preparing for the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps! In North Texas, a collaborative event hosted by the North Texas AmeriCorps Alliance at the American Red Cross this Friday morning will be one of the many events nationwide that commemorate the 20th anniversary with a national swearing in ceremony. Sworn in by Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Bush, Sr., these AmeriCorps members will be first class for the next 20 years, and set the stage in North Texas, and across the country, for a lifetime of service. In addition to the North Texas event, an AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas representative will be speaking at the 20th Anniversary event in Austin hosted by the OneStar Foundation.

Lisa TatumMost importantly, one of our AmeriCorps Alums chapter leaders has been recognized for a prestigious national award, the 20th Anniversary Leadership Award. One of 20 honorees across the country and the only honoree in Texas, Lisa Tatum is receiving this award for her dedication to a lifetime of service, her achievements in her field of disaster preparedness and response, and her commitment to ensuring that other alumni can continue to be engaged with AmeriCorps and in service in North Texas. We are very proud of all of the recognition Lisa has been receiving this week. You can check out some articles below.

  • AmeriCorps Alums announces the 20th anniversary honorees
  • Shirley Sagawa and the Clinton Foundation mention Lisa as an example of commitment to a lifetime of service

We hope you will join the event here in North Texas and renew your commitment with us. If you are unable, view the livestream here and say the pledge with AmeriCorps members and alums across the country. Join us, and let’s keep getting things done!

 

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2nd Annual Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service

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National Service Recognition in Dallas City Council Chamber

“Mayors are leaders who get things done,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). As solution-focused elected officials, mayors have a unique role in our country, and their focus on engaging citizens to meet local needs matches CNCS’s mission to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement. As CNCS prioritizes expanding economic opportunity to create sustainable and resilient communities, 1760 mayors in the United States, representing 100 million citizens lent their voices and their support to spotlight the key role national service plays in solving local problems and challenges.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price participated in the 2nd Annual Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service to highlight the impact of citizen service, show support for nonprofit and national service groups, and inspire more residents to serve in their communities. And that’s not all–these two cities are expanding their national service footprint even further. Cornerstone in Fort Worth will receive funding for an RSVP program to bring 600 new senior volunteers to North Texas. The Mayor’s Grow South initiative in Dallas will have 7 new VISTA members to support the growth. “As Mayors, we realize how important volunteers are,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price as she joined with 22 other mayors in Tarrant County to recognize national service volunteers.

AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas is excited that national service is receiving this kind of recognition. Together with local North Texas AmeriCorps Alliance members, we celebrated AmeriCorps and national service with these mayors and staff from CNCS who were able to join us. So many programs in North Texas–from nonprofits to community organization–would not exist without national service. What’s more, service is making dreams come true. For one young girl, applying to become an AmeriCorps member was her way of achieving her dreams. “The girl who wanted to save the world…I’m going to make her proud,” she said in her application. We are grateful for the overwhelming support of North Texas mayors in helping people achieve their dreams for a brighter future and supporting national service in giving people an opportunity to save the world. As Tarrant Area Community of Churches’ Melinda Veatch summarizes nicely, “the gifts of one person have magnified the gifts of many people in the community.” Thank you, North Texas mayors for all your support of national service and all you do to make our communities and neighbors stronger, brighter, and more resilient.

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Receiving the proclamation from Betsy Price, mayor of Ft. Worth

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Left: Katy Dooley- Texas Program Specialist, Corporation for National and Community Service, Hector Garcia- Mayor of Watauga, Betsy Price- Mayor of Ft. Worth, Richard Ward- Mayor of Hurst, Jim Griffin- Mayor of Bedford all recognizing National Service at Ft. Worth Event

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The National Service Reception hosted at Cornerstone Assistance Network in Ft. Worth

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Attending the Ft. Worth City Council meeting to get the official proclamation

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Proclamation from the City of Ft. Worth

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Volunteer Center of North Texas AmeriCorps members- showing off their “A” next to the Ft. Worth proclamation.

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Trinity Habitat for Humanity members pose with Katy Dooley of CNCS at Ft. Worth event

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Ft. Worth’s Sleeping Panther

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Downtown Dallas from City Hall

 

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Texas HIPPY members

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dallas City Council Flag Room

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City of Dallas proclamation

 

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Life After AmeriCorps 2014 – Another Resounding Success!

On Friday, March 21st, the American Red Cross DFW opened its doors to more than 80 AmeriCorps members, program leaders, AmeriCorps Alums and supporters. Featured presenters included our Keynote Speaker Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD Board member representing District 8, Amber Givens, Judge for the 282nd District Court in Dallas County, Jamie Dake, Voluntary Agency Liaison for FEMA Region 6, and Alicia Toombs, Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator for Dallas County Health and Human Services. After a day of panel discussions and presentations in four different tracks: Career, Education, Lifetime of Service, and Personal Branding, Alums, current members, brand new Alums, and program leaders adjourned to Gloria’s in Dallas for the AmeriCorps Alums Social Change Hour – a happy hour and social change discussion forum. Check out the pictures and posts below for a taste of all the Ameri-fun!

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Judge Elect Amber Givens spoke on how AmeriCorps shaped her path.

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Careers in Emergency Management Panel- Lisa Tatum, Jamie Dake, and Alicia Toombs

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Amdist all of this excitement with the annual Life After AmeriCorps Conference and the North Texas AmeriCorps Alliance’s upcoming AmeriCorps Week initiative, we are excited that this whole event represented a huge return on investment. We like to think of it as SOCIAL Return on Investment. The network of AmeriCorps Alums and programs in North Texas worked together to recruit speakers who volunteered their valuable time – and were excited to do it! – in support of training our future leaders – AmeriCorps Alums to make incredible social change in Dallas. Lunch was donated by our wonderful sponsors QuikTrip and Frito Lay, and the space was generously supplied by the American Red Cross DFW in Dallas. The only thing we had to buy was $10 worth of condiments – mayonnaise and mustard! It was $10 well spent in training more than 80 exiting AmeriCorps members to continue their lifetime of service in a variety of ways in DFW.

Thank you to all the Alums who attended, spoke at the event, and pitched in from near and far through social media. It’s a team effort, and we are so excited that you continue to be a part of it every year. See you in 2015 for #LAA2015!

Don’t worry if you missed #LAA2014! Join us for AmeriCorps Week April 5-13, 2014. Follow @ntxalums for details.

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North Texas Alliance experiences MLK success

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The North Texas Alliance Leadership

The North Texas AmeriCorps Alliance served the community in a variety of ways over the MLK Holiday.

City of Dallas Parade

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The City of Dallas MLK parade was a success for the North Texas AmeriCorps Alliance. We had participation from a variety of local AmeriCorps Programs. The ringleader for the Alliance Float was Stephanie Fenniri, an AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas chapter leader,  who works for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity (they host several AmeriCorps members and are active Alliance participants).  There were approximately 30 volunteers–some current AmeriCorps members and some alumni.

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Lining up before the parade

The Float represented our theme for this year: AmeriCorps20. The trailer for the float and the truck driven in the parade were supplied by an AmeriCorps Alum from a City Year Program, there was music provided by another alum who is a DJ. Some participants marched in the parade carrying signs that represented Alliance Members and supporting organizations- Volunteer Center of North Texas, Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity Dallas, Reading Partners, City Square, Avance, OneStar Foundation, and a couple with social media contacts.

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MLK Float

Three stories to come out of the parade:

  1. Upon arriving at the parade one AmeriCorps member shouted “I want to carry the Habitat for Humanity sign!” When asked why she said “I am a Habitat for Humanity Homeowner.”
  2. While waiting for the parade to begin a young woman came up to the float organizer and introduced herself. Her name is Amber Givens and she is an AmeriCorps alum who is participating in the parade to promote her running in the election for county judge. She served in AmeriCorps *National Civilian Community Corps.
  3. The entire parade effort was led by Stephanie Fenniri, who did an amazing job with few resources in a short time frame. Her leadership allowed us to represent all North Texas AmeriCorps members in our city’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade.

Project Transformation

176 volunteers, 23 AmeriCorps Members/Alumni

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Painting in the Project Transformation Library

Cleaning out storage room that had been filled with books, toys, and various other things. Sorting all of these program supplies, building bookshelves, painting bookshelves, and generally freshening up the site. This set of projects was also supported by Starbucks, who came out with volunteers and delicious hot coffee and pastries to start off the day! These projects are part of the #PTMakeover effort to transform project transformation sites for the next level of support for their students.

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Building new bookshelves and painting old ones

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Sorting through storage room materials

 

City Square

54 AmeriCorps members, alumni, and a few neighborhood volunteers from Union Coffee Shop visited the CitySquare Opportunity Center, a brand new facility in Southeast Dallas which will house a variety of services to support CitySquare’s mission and fight poverty in the heart of Dallas. Volunteers designed motivational posters for the insides of the Opportunity Center’s halls, painted movable walls for use inside the facility, cleaned up trash around the neighborhood and distributed warm clothing to those encountered in the community who may need such items.

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Creating Motivational Posters for classrooms

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Picking up litter in the neighborhood

Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity

20 AmeriCorps members/alumni, 16 additional volunteers

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Getting Things Done

While AmeriCorps members, alumni, and volunteers from Southwest Airlines worked on prepping and painting a newly built Dallas Habitat for Humanity  House in West Dallas, they were joined in service by the Boy Scouts of America, who helped pick up trash around the neighborhood.

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Preparing to paint a new Habitat home

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross Martin Luther King Day Preparedness Project was a great success. Partnering with Hope World Wide for training and orientation, approximately 100 volunteers including AmeriCorps members from the Volunteer Center of North Texas targeted 5 apartment complexes in the Dallas community. Providing fire safety information cards and kits. Door hangers were placed on every apartment and direct visits with preparedness survey and information sharing were tracked.  By the end of the day one group alone had placed 147 door hangers and had 75 household visits as well as 50 household conversations. 

AmeriCorps member Kallie Seymour commented, “We found out quickly that most of the people living in that particular apartment complex spoke Spanish.  This did become one hindrance to communication. Luckily there was English and Spanish written on both sides of the cards we handed out. We found that most families had an escape plan drawn out and did have working smoke detectors. One lady we had provided information with, had been so thankful that she asked “if there was a class she could sign up for to learn more.”

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American Red Cross Canvassing project

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Canvassing Crew

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The First Ever Graduate School Fair

DSC_0198On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, AmeriCorps Alums of North Texas hosted the Clinton School of Public Service and the Bush School of Public Service in our first ever graduate school fair. AmeriCorps members and Alums from all over the North Texas region showed up to hear Alex Thomas from the Clinton School and Katherine Meyer from the Bush School discuss their programs–and get some delicious free food from Scalini’s and some tasty desserts from Katidid’s Kreations!

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The event ended with a panel on the state of education and public service with Alex and Kathryn and two dedicated local panelists:

  • Stephanie Fenniri – Manager of Homeowner Neighborhood Support at the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Stephanie got her start as an AmeriCorps member with CitySquare and is now concurrently completing an MPA and MCRP at the University of Texas at Arlington. Stephanie has sparkle, and advocates, “spreadsheet your life.”
  • Jennifer Rajkumar – Director of AmeriCorps at CitySquare, Jennifer and her organization are cornerstones of the AmeriCorps community in North Texas with over 300 active members making an impact year round! Jennifer got her MPA at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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DSC_0207Some memorable moments from the panel:

Americorps is your chance to experience what is needed in public and government service. – Jennifer

Americorps gives you substantive experience in public service. – Alex

If you are serving in Americorps, start looking for your next step…but whatever you do don’t leave early. – Jennifer

We are looking for Americorps members because they have that real experience. – Alex

Students are coming to us to be challenged. – Kathryn Meyer

If you are just leaving Americorps, now is the time to seek a masters degree. – Stephanie

Marketability is something to think about. You can have passion. But do you have experience?  If you have this education you can put passion to work. – Jennifer

It’s incredible to be surrounded by all that knowledge. – Stephanie (speaking on the educational environment in higher education)

Lot of growth in private sector/for profit public service. Tom’s shoes is an example of that. – Alex

Government contracting is really growing as well. That’s where the jobs are. – Kathryn

The connections you build through Americorps or education are important, as is exposing yourselves to what is going on around you. – Jennifer

You don’t hear kids say they want to be a volunteer coordinator or a government contractor when they grow up. – Jennifer

You need to spreadsheet your life. Plan. Be flexible. Be willing to adapt quantify your work. That will stand out. – Stephanie

Have awareness of your knowledge and skills as something verifiable. Don’t sell yourself short. Research to know what you are bringing to the table. – Kathryn

Americorps is over and you have an existential crisis: “What am I going to do?” – Alex

Don’t take the 30th step from now. Take the next step. You don’t have to collapse under the weight of “What’s going to happen?” – Alex

The biggest thing is to know your passion. We love to see passionate members. Make your passion your work path and be specific. – Jennifer

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