In which service volunteers are celebrities…

It was a good morning in November when I answered the Pathways phone and an AmeriCorps team member was on the line, asking if we would like a group of volunteers for a day of service at school.

Um, YES!

On December 18th, we welcomed eight young people from all around the county on a 10-month term of community service across the western states.  They had been in Julian for six weeks, staying at Camp Stevens and working on building and clearing trails, planting natives on Volcan and helping out around town, such as assisting locals in hanging all of the holiday decorations on our historic Main Street.  On our day, they worked with Pathways, helping to wrap presents for our toy drive, moving a sandbox for the special ed. department, planting bulbs, painting our table, and installing a hoop system over our raised beds.

I also asked them if they would be willing to do a 15-minute presentation to the 4th and 5th grade classes.  They were happy to do this and visited each class to discuss the concept of AmeriCorps, what projects they had already contributed to, where they were headed next, and what they had learned about committing a year of their young lives to service in various communities.  I also asked the team to share some of their reflections on living in Julian with our students, as it’s always great to get an outsider’s perspective on what is just “daily life” for you.  They talked about the natural beauty of Julian, the close-knit community who had welcomed them wholeheartedly and of course, the apple pie.

After taking a few last questions, I hustled them out the door so the students could get ready for lunch.  As I did, some fifth graders followed us with pen and paper and started asking the AmeriCorps members to sign their names.  Suddenly I realized the kids were asking for their autographs!  The AmeriCorps members realized this too as they signed paper after paper, laughing that this was definitely a “first” for them.

Oh to live in a world where the people who volunteer and serve in communities are the celebrities!  And thank you to the amazing Mrs. McFedries who has taught her class to respect and be grateful for people who serve others.  Bless you AmeriCorps team as you continue to make the world a better place!

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Do a small job, be our hero

You know how a single job can be quick work for one person, and a seemingly massive task for another?  I’ve thought about this a lot, in my quest to get everything done in the school garden that needs getting done.  And I’ve come up with this idea: compiling a list of small jobs in the garden and putting it out to our community at large to see if we can get any takers.  The idea is that if you want to help our school garden, you don’t necessarily need to join the Garden Club or commit to a big, ongoing project.  Just look over our list of “small jobs” and see which ones might be easy and fun for you to do. We’ll quickly reimburse you for any expenses.  Come do one job and be our hero for the day!

Take our wheelbarrow.  It needs fixed, and for me to do it, I’d spend an inordinate amount of time assessing it, researching what bolts and nuts and braces it would need, and then shopping for the right things, and finally locating all of the necessary tools. (Sad, but true.) Yet for the right person with the right tools…this would be a relatively quick task.

My church has expressed interest in helping with the garden, and so I published a list of jobs in a newsletter, and Hans (who also happens to be my next door neighbor) was the first to say he’d help out.  In no time at all, he got our wheelbarrow operational and repaired a fruit tree sign as a bonus!  I was so grateful to cross this task off my list, thanks to Hans’ willingness to serve!  It’s a good example of a community member investing in kids and public schools, even though his own children have long since graduated.  Thanks neighbor!