If not, I highly recommend a journey that challenges those very things. I found mine two years ago. When I joined AmeriCorps, I had the opportunity to serve the youth of ALEC and their families. Due to the staff, youth, and parents being so welcoming, it was easy to jump into other partnerships and volunteer around the neighborhood which allowed me to get to know many local residents. I was admittedly nervous to work with elementary and future middle school students, but, it isn't in my nature to let challenges intimidate me. There was laughing, loudness, frustration, hugs, glitter, art, super heroes, snacks, Spanish lessons, and more importantly, I was blessed to serve a great group of kids and welcomed into a passionate and motivated community that I care for very deeply.
While I'm sad to be leaving ALEC, I am happy to let you know it's for a great reason! I will be continuing my work at A+ Schools with their TeenBloc program! I hope to keep a relationship with the team at ALEC and volunteer for programming when time allows me to do so.
Here is a short summary of what I contributed to ALEC:
Besides teaching art and emotional intelligence, one of my other passions is herbology. It was so much fun teaching the kids about herbs and their medicinal benefits as well as their many kitchen uses. The students had the opportunity to choose an herb to study as well as plant, grow, and take them home to harvest.
We also had an intro course to physics involving viscosity, pressure, and the different elements of liquids and solids. What better way to introduce those concepts than making oobleck for our Thursday Science Lab days?
Our Saturday Drop-In days are always a blast, it gives everyone some time to loosen up and have fun...and it can't hurt to learn and have fun, right?? Students not only got to make some awesome crafts they also learned about natural minerals, their uses and how to use what's around us to transform it into something of their interests. Check out some these awesome crystals and wands (inspired by everyone's love of Harry Potter) the Brashear Kids made!
This year, we had our debut neighborhood event for Project HAND (Helping Allentown Neighbors Dream). Project HAND was born last year with the teamwork of AmeriCorps staff. While we started small with creating an anti-littering campaign, this time we decided to put our $2,500 Remake Learning Grant to use. We decided to purchase large street trash cans for our Hilltop neighbors and were successfully able to provide over 50 homes with trash cans. This was my first planned event for more than a handful of people, I am really grateful for such a supportive staff and community. We couldn't have Project HAND if it weren't for our youth, families, and neighbors.
The event included a painting party, custom printed t-shirts (designed by a certain six-foot tall lady with colorful hair and lots of tattoos *cough* no hint there *cough*). It was a great way to meet more neighbors and introduce them to our youth-lead initiative to give our Brashear Kids a chance to use their voices and how to make an impact. I'm so happy to have been able to help foster this legacy project and leave something for anyone that walks through ALEC's doorway to contribute to as well.
I want to thank ALEC from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to professionally develop towards my goals in my own way, as well as the families that have been so welcoming to me and most importantly, the Brashear Kids. Thank you for challenging me, thank you for allowing me to serve you and bring out your talents and your voices, just as you have brought out mine.
See you later, Allentown <3