Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
-Molly Dutter and Maddie Kiuttu
Goodbye Mother, Goodbye Father
I am off to, serve some others
Red Sox fans are, very vocal
I will have to drop my R's so I sound local
On the first day, of orientation
We became members, of Generations
Got in groups to, scavenge Boston
Turns out that this East Coast city is quite awesome!
Got through one whole, month of training
Canceled hiking, cause it was raining
No one told us, about our cluster
Julie knew and said that we just had to trust her
Take me home to Coolidge Corner
There are five States to discover
Don't touch Jason's tortellini
Elvia is a Twitter Queenie
If you want to, see Zach cryin'
Watch a chick flick, with Meg Ryan
Lisa's laugh is, quite contagious
Molly cut 2000 meatballs, how outrageous!
Oh but wait there's, four more Staties
One's a gent and, three are ladies
One is Amy, she's a sweet one
One is Karleigh and when you're with her you'll have great fun!
Who's got overalls, and a beard?
Look its Joe out, in Revere!
Then there's Maddie, she's a great chick
When you have a bad day she's there for you real quick
What a great bunch, of new Staties
They were all born, in the eighties!
So glad they joined, the team this year
Hope our singing was too not bad and hurt your ear!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Fresh out of school with a degree in anthropology left me with a new perspective on the world, several new ideas, and an unwavering optimism that I could do something to change the world. The kind of major that often resulted in the much feared, “That’s great but what are you going to do with it?” question.
Starting at Generations Incorporated as the Recruitment VISTA has been an eye-opening opportunity for me. I’ve been learning a lot about what seems to work and what doesn’t with recruiting volunteers, which is challenging yet exciting. I am surrounded by several intelligent and optimistic AmeriCorps members, all excited in their own ways for learning about their position, the organization, non-profits, et cetera. We are here for a year or two (or even three if we get hooked), but then we move on to take the skills and experience that we have acquired and move to our next step in life.
As I adapt to the social environment of serving in an office, I have noticed the difference between the staff and myself. The difference that I am noticing is that while I’ve come here with my idealistic, unwavering, fresh-out-of-college kind of optimism, they have a different kind of optimism. It is a sort of grounded optimism. It is the kind of optimism that has been challenged with the reality of running a non-profit (especially in this economy) and pulled through.
Being around these kind of resources, mentors, supervisors, who are so excited to help us all learn and develop our skills and develop ourselves as people has made me realize something about this experience. I may not figure out exactly what I am going to do in the future in a year, but I’m going to have a much better idea of how I am going to do it.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Best Site Photo
Abraham and Aaron Richardson
by Bryan Lamoreau, Yawkey Boys and Girls Club
Ms. Pearl Jones and Rasheed Abdullah
by Maya Milic-Strkalj, Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club
Friday, May 1, 2009
As part of the AmeriCorps network, our motto is “We’re getting things done for
When I enrolled Lauren back in October, she was essentially a non-reader. Lauren was in first grade and able to read only the most basic of words—a, and, the—and had little confidence. She clearly didn’t enjoy reading and was nervous about having to do it in front of complete strangers. Her teacher knew she was well behind the rest of the class and wanted her in the school’s reading recovery program which offered 45 minutes of intensive literacy tutoring with a specialist four times a week. Unfortunately, the program was full first semester, so Lauren had to wait until February to begin. Until then, her teacher wanted her in Generations so that she was still getting a form of individualized attention twice a week.
I assigned Lauren to one of our most dynamic, consistent and dedicated Reading Coaches, Ms. Tena, in the hopes that she would encourage not only Lauren’s reading skills but also her confidence. Lauren was initially very shy during her sessions and struggled through them. Gradually, she began to trust Tena and before long, I was regularly hearing giggles from their work station and would occasionally have to tell them to keep the volume down. Every session, I would be impressed by some new word she could decipher or how fluently she was reading rather lengthy sentences. Clearly, she was making considerable gains in her skills and appreciation of reading.
I didn’t realize how big those gains were until her teacher approached me in February to talk about Lauren. She informed me that the week prior she and the literacy specialist had started the enrollment process to get Lauren into the reading recovery program. In order to enroll her, she had to be tested to see at which level she would be starting. Her teacher was pleased to report that Lauren had actually tested out of the program. Her skills were now too high for her to qualify for extra help.
Sharing that fantastic news with Tena has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my year of service. Tena was absolutely beaming and was so proud of Lauren’s accomplishment. Certainly, significant feedback like that doesn’t come along every day, so we really have to savor those moments and remember that all of the little signs of improvement are pieces of a much bigger picture of the students developing skills and confidence that will serve them well for life. We’re getting things done.--------------------------------------------------------------------
Kim Bohling is an Americorps State Program Coordinator. You can email her at KBohling@generationsinc.org.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
That they yelled at me didn’t bother me. On occasion I listened to heavy metal rock. The rejection bothered me. Was it what I was wearing? Was it the style of my hair? Was it something I said? I asked for donations over the phone, so the first two questions don't apply. Regardless of my solicitation method, the rejection born from these encounters deflated my once ballooned confidence. The following reminders helped me find the motivation to seek donations once again. And so now, I recommend them to you.
1) Some people are rude. Period. They're rude to their mothers, their friends, their dog and their parakeet. It is no surprise they're rude to strangers. Take comfort in the predictability of their behavior. The phrase, "It's not you, it's me," is, for once, true.
2) Some small businesses are not used to donation requests. Employees have a defensive reaction to this rare occurrence—they think it is a scam. Fair enough. Then it may be better to ask for a donation in person, rather than over the phone. Bring any paperwork that will establish your legitimacy—tax forms, pre-written donation request letter on a letterhead, business card, etc. But chain businesses are used to donation solicitors. It may be better—and more respectful of the business manager's time—to call him or her before your visit to set up a meeting time.
3) Often enough, your request for donations will be met with the response "No. " Be proud of yourself for having the determination to overcome the mountain you are climbing, no matter how many boulders are in your path. And always remember these words from The Great One, the hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100-percent of the shots you don't take." I won’t try to relate the mountain metaphor to the Wayne Gretzky quote, so I leave you with this instead. When you ask for donations you are “selling” your organization’s purpose, but more so you are selling yourself. To establish yourself as respectable and legitimate to strangers is a skill you need to be successful in your professional (and personal) life. Seeking donations is an opportunity to strengthen it. And so is writing blog entries. Did I establish myself as respectable and legitimate? If I did, then you accepted my advice. And if you used it, I hoped it helped. Good luck.
Carlos Livingston is an AmeriCorps State Lead at Generations Incorporated. You can e-mail him at CLivingston@GenerationsInc.org.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Each morning, while most of my peers at Generations head out to their respective schools to begin programming, I make the commute to our downtown office to get some work done before my site begins at 2:30. I am one of four AmeriCorps coordinators serving at an after-school site, and I think that all of us can agree that we operate in a very different world from that of the school-serving corps members. One of the differences is that our afternoon schedules afford us the time to visit school sites during the morning and become ever more aware that the after-school environment is a world of its own. Last week, on a suggestion from my supervisor, I used one of my mornings to visit the Blackstone Elementary School in the South End in order to get a better feeling for how different sites run.
I have spent time at schools all throughout my year of service; in particular, I visit the
Jessie Kunhardt is an
Thursday, April 9, 2009
A day in the life in October…. I step into a classroom in my green polo and kids cower and hide their faces. “I don’t want to come with you!” “I don’t like reading.” “This is going to be boring.” It was rough convincing these tough kids that they would have fun coming down to read and that their cool and caring Experience Corps reading coaches were not working with them as a punishment, but were there to be supportive and to have an enjoyable time together.
A day in the life in April…. I step into a classroom in my green polo and kids jump into my path. “Is it me today?” “How come you never pick me to come read?” “Can I come with him/her?” I come up at the end of sessions and hear, “I don’t want to go back yet.” “How about 5 more minutes?” or, “Just a couple more pages?” Ah, the joy it brings to my heart not to have to convince them every day that I am friend not foe. And even those who are still a bit skeptical at the beginning of each session, once they get going with their reading coach, never want to leave.
I’ll bring it down from the broad spectrum to the personal and talk about one student in particular. I have the privilege of getting to read with this sweet student and now I get to see his smiling face most of the time. At the beginning of the year it was literally quite the opposite, he would cry when it was time for him to come read with Generations. The transition was stressful for him and he felt uncomfortable leaving the classroom. Once his teacher and I figured out that this was his difficulty we switched to reading right outside the classroom and slowly worked our way down to the library (where we hold the majority of our reading coaches sessions). Now he comes down with that beautiful smile lighting up his face. His ability to feel comfortable in the environment we provide lends to him being able to make much more progress in his reading. His comfort level in regard to his atmosphere has led to a new confidence in his reading and gives him something to feel proud of. Working with him is now a delight and his excitement and enthusiasm about the stories we read make his smiles contagious.
I see the same story occurring between each of the students and their Generations reading coaches at the
Meghan MacLean is an
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The following email was sent by an AmeriCorps Alum (from '07-'08) to one of our staff members. How awesome to hear what she is up to and how her service has had a lasting effect in her life!
I wanted to write to you and everyone else at Generations Incorporated to share my experiences training for the Boston Marathon and to express gratitude for the influence my experiences at GI continue to have in this endeavor as well as in other aspects of my life. I am so grateful for my experiences as an AmeriCorps member at Generations Incorporated because of the things I learned, the spirit that I felt, and the persons I associated with. And I wanted to let everyone know a few of the ways those experiences continue to influence my life post-AmeriCorps. Would you mind forwarding this and/or posting it at the office (as it's appropriate)?
While serving in AmeriCorps I learned a lot about non-profits that is helping me in my graduate courses in museum education. The value of that is not only the knowledge of how non-profit organizations work but in how they can become a part of and benefit the community--the difference they can make in the lives of many individuals and how they can uplift and strengthen each individual that they serve--from volunteers to families to civic leaders, etc. And the experiential knowledge I gained last year is every bit as valuable, if not more so. For example, my communication skills are much improved thanks to all the collaboration I was a part of (especially during the Read-a-thon). A couple of weeks ago we talked about the importance of supporting volunteers and I was able to contribute some insights that opened the eyes of some of my classmates. And here's another example: thanks to the expertise of the devo team, my supervisor, and really everyone else, drafting my marathon fundraising letter was a breeze. All that practice with in-kind letters comes in mighty handy. :)
The motivation behind the service makes all the difference. And the willingness of so many to spend so much time to create wonderful experiences for others brings energy and spirit that carry you through each task. That spirit touches the hearts of those who serve and extends to the lives of those who are served. When everyone pulls together amazing things happen that lead to greater energy and consequently greater things--like making stone soup. I will always appreciate my fellow AmeriCorps members whose excitement fueled mine in a way that helped us all give more than we thought we could. That experience, I think, is what gave me the courage to leap at the chance to run the marathon as part of a team that would pull together for an important cause. Not sure if I could really do it, I signed up anyway; and being part of a team gets me through the rough spots. Last week it literally got me up and over Heartbreak Hill.
I love people. I love people! My experiences as an AmeriCorps member at Generations Incorporated immersed me into the variety of culture and community of
Well, I didn't mean this to be quite so long. Turns out I had a lot to say (typical of when I have strong feelings about something). I appreciate each one of you and the powerful impact you have had on my life through your service and kindness. I hope you will consider helping me support
Monday, March 16, 2009
In observance and celebration of Black History Month, many Generations Incorporated programs, including the Kennedy elementary, took part in discussing historical figures and events that shaped the rights of people in the
One day in conversation Jean Webber mentioned taking part in a march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in her hometown of
Turns out that Jean had taken a solo trip that toured the southern states in the height of the Civil Rights movement, and was full of vivid stories that confirmed many of the horrors many have only heard about. Jean shared a story in which she joined a peaceful march in a
Kirkland Ahrens is an AmeriCorps State Community Engagement Coordinator at Generations Incorporated. You can e-mail him at KAhrens@GenerationsInc.org.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
But let’s back up a bit, to how I ended up discussing educational equality with fellow Americorps members at Generations Incorporated. I guess it started as graduation neared senior year of college. I often thought to myself ‘what now?’ I knew I wanted to be an educator, but was not sure if I was cut out to be a teacher. I heard about Americorps, a year long service opportunity, and with extensive community service and nonprofit experience, it seemed that spending another year in service was a fitting next step. When I came across Generations Incorporated I was struck by the uniqueness of their mission to bring together youth and older adults through literacy based mentoring. I was excited about the chance to explore my interest in education, while also working with diverse populations, diverse in all senses of the word. Many organizations that Americorps members work with engage low-income communities, but with Generations Incorporated there is also the element of diversity in age.
Generations Incorporated (GI) places volunteers in schools and afterschools across Boston and Revere, so when I got my placement at a small school in South Boston, I was a little surprised. With great-grandparents who came over from Ireland with the last name Connolly, I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of diversity in my placement, based on what I had heard about South Boston. I wanted to learn all I could about the area, and I started by reading Michael Macdonald’s All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, and was struck by the images of the racial and class struggle of the 1970s during Boston’s bussing crisis. As my year of service progressed, I craved more background and history of the area . I read J. Anthony Lukas’ Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, a compelling depiction of urban life in Boston in the 70s, including an in-depth look at exchanges among different ethnicities in the search for educational equality. Some Bostonians developed community schools that tried to bridge the education gap. While some of these succeeded, many proved insufficient, so communities reached out to the Boston Public School Board and eventually the courts for a fair chance for their children to receive a quality education. The bussing that resulted produced mixed results. In many neighborhoods integration occurred peacefully, but some featured significant violence. I was so struck by this decades old debate and the injustice that occurred right here where I serve today. I have also seen that the volunteers at my site have not forgotten the events of that time, and for many it is still a raw, emotional issue. I saw the relevance of the issue to our older adult volunteers and felt the urge to share some of this story with my fellow Americorps members, and that is how I came to facilitating the discussion.
So what’s it like in Southie today? That’s what my Americorps State team members wanted to know after our discussion. Well, it’s not like in that video, I can say for sure. Walking the streets of South Boston near my school, The Perkins Elementary, you’ll find people of just about every skin color, age range, ethnic background, and religion, and that heterogeneity is reflected in the student body of my small school. Of course it’s not all happy harmony, but for the most part, it’s an atmosphere of relative accord in the neighborhood. The people of South Boston have worked hard to put the past behind them, and it shows today. It means something that most of my fellow Americorps members had no idea the kind of racial violence that went on around educational issues in these neighborhoods not so long ago. The neighborhood has come a long way. But there’s still a ways to go. I’m happy to be a small part of an organization that does something to bring older adults from neighborhoods across the greater Boston area to work with students who may not be like themselves. I couldn’t ask for a richer experience for my service year.
Kelly Connolly is an Americorps State Program Coordinator. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 20, 2009
During my two years of AmeriCorps Service at Generations Incorporated I have found member development training to be an enriching experience. At GI we are surrounded by helpful and knowledgeable individuals who are constantly willing to share their experience. What I believe enriches the program the most, however, is the constant invitation to AmeriCorps members to enhance the program as they see fit. This is one of my experiences doing just that.
Let me start by saying that I am a 23 year old gay man. I have never felt unwelcome or unwanted at Generations Incorporated, and I have never felt anything but encouragement regarding my ability to express myself openly.
It wasn’t until the end of my
Fast forward to about 3 months ago, in the middle of my second year of service as an AmeriCorps Lead. I decided I would take another crack at LGBT diversity, but this time with an important twist.
This search brought me to the website of the LGBT Aging Project. A non-profit organization in
We just got back from the lunch, and not to seem overly gay, but it went fabulously. Before the guests arrived the assistant director of the Project gave us a short orientation to the issues that face older adults today. Namely their sense of alienation from the movement that our generation has chosen, their inability to function socially among their straight-identified peers because of their generation’s widespread lack of acceptance, and also the differing issues faced by men and by women within the community, and how to serve one group without alienating the other. It was great to hear about these issues from someone with such firsthand knowledge.
After we had helped set up and the guests had arrived, we sat with them and chatted them up. One of the guests at my table was English, and one of the AmeriCorps members at my table had lived in
All in all it was a great start to my mission. Today’s event started a meaningful and productive conversation among our corps, now the challenge will be to continue this conversation, keeping it productive while constantly giving it new meaning.
Garen Nigon is an AmeriCorps State Lead at Generations Incorporated. You can e-mail him at GNigon@GenerationsInc.org.
Friday, February 6, 2009
“WELL WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!?” my mother shrieked into the phone when I told her I had decided not to apply to graduate school. I was still in college and had just come from a meeting with my advisor who had told me quite bluntly, “Don’t do to grad school just because you don’t know what else to do.” I was stunned. How had I not realized that that was what I was doing? I felt that a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
So when I called my mom with a sense of joyful relief, the panicked scream I got in reaction was not quite what I’d hoped for.
But then, as mothers so often do just when you want to be mad at them, she had made a good point. What was I going to do? Searches for jobs for anthropology majors generally counseled me to use my new-found understanding of human behavior to try to sell people stuff, answer telephones, or try to sell people stuff over the telephone. I found these options uninspiring.
Lucky for me, a different, less talked about option existed: full time service. Admittedly, I stumbled across the Americorps option because I didn’t know what else to do, but that isn’t why I chose it. It takes more than a “why not?” attitude to make a person decide to pack up, leave home and dive head first into a position she might not yet fully understand and pays almost nothing. You have to see a need you think you can meet, a challenge you are excited to overcome, an opportunity that you think will leave you a better and stronger person than you were before.
People have said a lot of very moving things about the value of doing service, but I won’t quote them here. Honestly I don’t feel like my life is that grandiose. Like working people, I sometimes get worn out and have to deal with things I’d rather ignore. Not to mention that I spend too much time on public transit to pretend that service is all about nobility and greatness. But there are more than enough incredible moments to make up for all that.
I get to see the fierce love our volunteers have for their students. I get to be inspired by their dedication and the way they unequivocally reject the idea that somebody else’s children are somebody else’s responsibility. I get to join in the pride a student feels when she reads a book she couldn’t have gotten through at the beginning of the year. I get to work with a Corps of really fun and motivated people who care about a lot of the same things I do.
I guess all that is a little addictive, because here I am in the middle of my second year of service at Generations Incorporated. Sure, we all have days when we look at our stipend check and wish there were a little more left over to buy that cute pair of shoes… but in the end I feel very privileged to be an Americorps member. The trust the staff gives us allows me to challenge myself ad I get far more support in figuring out and preparing for what I want to do with the rest of my life than most entry-level jobs would give me.
Since I can’t stay here forever, that pesky “Well, what are you going to do?” question will come up again soon. For now though, I know that choosing service was the right thing. Let’s just say I’ve never once wished that I had gone the telemarketing route.------------------------------------------
Emily Schlosnagle is an AmeriCorps State Lead at Generations Incorporated. You can e-mail her at ESchlosnagle@GenerationsInc.org.
Monday, January 5, 2009
At the event, Nathan Hale Elementary School students learned how delicious and fun sharing can be when they helped create stone soup to share with classmates, teachers, family and Generations Inc. volunteers. The folktale Stone Soup inspired the event. In the story, a village of hungry peasants refuses to share their food with three starving soldiers. The soldiers tell the villagers they know how to make soup from a stone. The villagers, in disbelief, follow the soldiers’ recipe. But the recipe is a trick. The soldiers tell the villagers that stone soup is tasty, but it could be tastier if they add vegetables. Each villager brings a vegetable to add to the soup. In the end all shared a little and all had plenty to eat.
Our event utilized the Stone Soup story line. Each student brought vegetables for our stew; Generations Inc. volunteers, staff and Americorps members brought bread, fruit and cookies to share, too. Parents, grandparents and siblings came to the feast and had the chance to meet their student’s tutor and see the great work they have done. The party ended with dessert and a fun, interactive read aloud of another version of the tale.
The Stone Soup party is a longstanding and treasured Generations Inc. tradition at the Nathan Hale. It is a real celebration of reading, sharing and connecting all of the people who share in our students’ successes.
Kim Bohling is an Americorps State Program Coordinator. You can email her at KBohling@generationsinc.org.