VISTA Members Inspire Community Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On January 18, many VISTA members coordinated service projects at their Clubs for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

The Corporation for National & Community Service led the effort to inspire hundreds of thousands of volunteers to come together on the National Day of Service to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service and community improvement. All VISTA members were encouraged to participate in a project and document the success and impact it had on their community.

Arianna Riccio, VISTA member at the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County, arranged to have youth visit the local Health and Rehabilitation Center to work with elders. Together, the elders and youth played MLK Day trivia, games, and puzzles that involved information about Dr. King’s legacy.

A highlight of the day for many youth was learning how to make origami doves of peace and helping others learn as well. For many youth, this was their first experience with community service and their first chance to interact with elders and better understand their needs. The youth learned how much fun they could have while providing community service, and what a difference they could make. The Club youth look forward to returning to the Center for future service opportunities.

Through this and other projects facilitated by VISTA members on MLK Day, VISTA members passed on to youth the importance of service and how people of any age can be a part of working to improve their communities.


AmeriCorps VISTA Member Achieves Success at Penobscot Boys & Girls Club-Presque Isle

At many Clubs, online marketing is very important in promoting programs and opportunities to youth and families. VISTA member Whytnie Martin-Sackett of the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club - Presque Isle has worked to improve the Club’s online presence by redeveloping the Club’s website.

The goal of the new website was to create something more user-friendly to keep families connected with up-to-date information about current events in the local organization as well as the greater Boys & Girls Clubs of America community. On the Club’s site, visitors can find the services the Club offers, staff and Board vision and goals, downloadable calendars, social media connects, event reminders, and much more.

The website has been utilized to promote the Club’s Halloween event, the annual powwow, the Mawiomi of Tribes, a Christmas in July Fundraising Gala, and more of the many great programs and events happening at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club – Presque Isle. One of the Club’s most popular events was their recent partnership with a local photography studio to offer a holiday portrait day for Club members and their families. Whytnie coordinated the event and worked with Club staff to include the families, many of whom took advantage of the free opportunity to take family pictures for the holidays.

“My hope is that the new Boys & Girls Club site provides a place for current members to send in and share their stories and experiences from Club activities; in this way we can create a positive Club presence so that potential members can jump online, see for themselves, and believe in the success of Boys & Girls Clubs as much as the rest of us already do!” said Whytnie.


Partnership with Verizon and Microsoft Provides New Opportunities for Native Youth

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently announced a new partnership with Verizon and Microsoft that will provide wireless tablets and high-speed wireless internet services to more than 1,000 Native American students located in eight Native youth dormitories located throughout New Mexico, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota. Verizon has also partnered with the Native Services Unit to provide appropriate resources and two years of free digital training, services, and support for students, teachers, and dormitory staff.

“This exciting partnership helps ensure students continue learning after they leave the classroom,” said Secretary Jewell, who outlined the partnership during the President’s seventh White House Tribal Nations Conference in November. “Access to today’s technology and wireless Internet are important parts of the equation as we work to assist tribal communities in providing students with a high-quality and culturally-relevant education. I applaud Microsoft and Verizon for their commitment to remove education barriers for Native students.”


Produce on Wheels Brings Healthy Produce to the Greater Scottsdale Community

This month, BGCIC AmeriCorps VISTA member Alexandra Nieto from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale - Red Mountain Unit organized Produce on Wheels, a monthly event hosted at the Club.

At Produce on Wheels, families and community members have an opportunity to pay just $10 to shop for up to 60 pounds of fresh, nutritional produce. The event is made possible through a partnership with the local Borderlands Food Bank. Produce on Wheels and their partners help to distribute 10 million pounds of fresh produce per year throughout the area.

Alexandra estimates that more than 65 community members came out to the event to purchase produce. In addition to hosting Produce on Wheels and bringing affordable produce into their community, the Club also receives 10% of the proceeds, making the event a great fundraiser.

In her role as the Club’s VISTA member, Alexandra recruited several volunteers for the recent event. Volunteers were available to help participants choose their produce and transport it. By hosting this event and creating the opportunity for families to access healthy produce, Alexandra and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale – Red Mountain Unit are supporting both their Club members and the community.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Adair County Schools Partners with Cherokee Nation Youth Services Department to Prevent Bullying

As a follow up to National Bullying Month in October, the Cherokee Nation Youth Services Department provided a Bullying Prevention presentation to several of the Boys & Girls Club of Adair County Schools sites, including the Rocky Mountain, Maryetta, and Stilwell Units.

Bullying takes many different forms and affects youth across the country. As adults, it can be easy to accidentally overlook when bullying is taking place unless it is overt. According to one large study by Bradshaw and colleagues in 2007, staff at all school levels (elementary, middle, and high) underestimate the number of students who are involved in frequent bullying. In this same study, they found that the most common types of bullying that middle school students experience are name calling, teasing, spreading rumors and lies, and pushing or shoving. Club members got the chance to learn about these common types of bullying and how to address them. After the presentation by the Cherokee Nation, the Club members played “Bullying Prevention BINGO” to reinforce the newly learned knowledge.

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