Tags: AmeriCorps, Loudoun Literacy Council, Reston Interfaith
Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service. As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps at Loudoun Literacy Council, Carrie Robinson and I participated in the National Day of Service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County “Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families” for Reston Interfaith. Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance. After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points. Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area nonprofits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.
From 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I, along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON for Adult Literacy handed out fliers about the “Stuff the Bus” to shoppers as they entered the grocery store. The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store. There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations. We also helped to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.
Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience. First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out. There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate! Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families. One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need. At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.
Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.
Susan Pilley, AmeriCorps Instructor
Loudoun Literacy Council
17 Royal Street SW
Leesburg, VA 20175
Tags: AmeriCorps, National Day of Service
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” These powerful words have made me reflect about the work that I do and the students that I teach here at the Literacy Council.
Too often in society, individuals and groups are judged based on skin color, language, cultures, and backgrounds. In fact, many would argue that it is simply human nature to judge someone before you even get to know them, or even speak to them. During the Civil Rights Era, in the 1950s and 60s—and certainly prior—negative judgment was heaped upon racial groups; many naively believed that race dictated one’s character, one’s ability, one’s identity. A half-century later, one could argue that we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.
Thinking about my students, I have no doubt that they may feel similarly judged on a day-to-day basis. Because of their language ability or unique cultural backgrounds, many could arguably see them as lesser in character, in ability, or in identity.
After meeting many of our students and building growing relationships with them, I am adamant in the belief that they should not be seen in a negative lens because of their language or cultural background. On the contrary, I, like King, have a hope that these unique backgrounds will one day be praised for the depth it can add to one’s character, instead of being derided. I hope that my students will live in a world where they can be respected for what they have to offer and not be hindered by their language ability. Our students are often an untapped resource in our community simply bursting with potential. In the words of King, they deserve to live in a world in which they are judged only on the “content of their character.”
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had the opportunity to serve during the National Day of Service, a day in which people get out and give back to the community. I served with my fellow AmeriCorps members at A-SPAN, an Arlington emergency shelter. We were given the tasks of organizing their donated clothing, cleaning the facilities, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their clients. During this time, I had the chance to reflect on both why I teach and on character. On the former point, I feel that my mission and passion is to help people and make a difference. I am thankful to be living in this great nation and for the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps and make a positive difference in many lives. On the latter point, I realized that if only people focused on character, and not on judgment, days like the National Day of Service could be far more widespread and impact so many more. If judgments were left at the door, people would be willing to shatter barriers that we spend so much time building up, and join hands with those around them in the service of others.
I appreciate the bravery of Martin Luther King Jr. and the courage of his actions. I appreciate his drive and determination to break down discriminatory barriers. His resounding words have given a voice to so many, like my students, who may be marginalized and judged. For this simple fact, his actions will always be remembered.
In the first 100 days of the first term of his administration, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – the boldest national service legislation since the era of FDR. The bill promised to more than triple AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 AmeriCorps by 2017, to grow Senior Corps, and to advance impact volunteerism and proven social innovation.
LCNV applies for AmeriCorps funding through a competitive grant process with the Virginia State Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which allows four AmeriCorps members the opportunity to serve at LCNV. Without this funding, 12 class locations would lose their lead teachers, thousands of service hours worth of ESOL curriculum development, data entry, community outreach, and volunteer management would vanish, and the number of adult learners the program could reach would drop by more than half. And that is just at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia! Check out this article on huffingtonpost.com to find out what would happen nationwide if AmeriCorps was eliminated.
Additionally, LCNV uses its capacity to serve as the applicant and fiscal agent for this grant to benefit Loudoun Literacy Council (LLC) and BEACON for Adult Literacy in Prince William County, securing four more AmeriCorps members – two to serve with LLC and two to serve with BEACON. All three organizations recruit AmeriCorps members in March of each year who will serve for one year (September to August) as lead classroom instructors, teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English. AmeriCorps members are fully trained and have the opportunity to supervise volunteers, collaborate with site partners, and participate substantively in organizational management.
In his 2012 victory speech, President Obama said: “The role of ‘citizen’ in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together.” Let’s hope that with our efforts we can ensure the future of National Service Programs so that generations to come can continue on with the proud tradition of “Getting Things Done” for America.
If you or someone you know would like more information about AmeriCorps and how to apply, visit www.americorps.gov and submit your application to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia program. Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org in case of inquiries.
Tags: AmeriCorps, giving thanks, Teacher Stories, thanksgiving
Thanksgiving has been a tradition for centuries. Traditionally, it has been known as a gathering where family and friends share a meal. Though the history behind it is rich, it seems that the Thanksgiving ritual has become eating as much as one can hold and then going back for seconds. Nevertheless, delving deeper than food, Thanksgiving is a day of reflection and giving thanks.
I am taking this time to reflect on the students that I teach here at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. Time and time again, I am grateful for each and every one of them. I appreciate their dedication and enthusiasm for learning English. Throughout these past few months, I have learned so much about their unique cultures, experiences in America, and willingness to learn a new language despite the barriers that they each may face. Collectively, this experience has allowed me to appreciate the diversity and cultural differences that not only are a part of America, but also define America.
During this holiday respite, our lives may be frenzied with work, traffic, stress, bills, school, and countless other time-consuming activities. However, I urge us all to remember that Thanksgiving is not simply about eating; rather, it is about stopping and enjoying what really matters in life—family, children, friends, good health, and well being.
Thus, on Thanksgiving, take a break from your hectic lives and take a moment to appreciate the people around you whom you love, as well as the simple things that we so often may take for granted.
Tags: AmeriCorps, esol classes, student stories, veterans day
We honor our veterans every year on Veteran’s Day. My father is one of the millions of veterans who fought and served their country. My father is an Ex-Navy Seal who fought in the Vietnam War in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He was drafted at a young age due to only being a part-time college student. My father never speaks about his time in Vietnam and will never to anyone. No one except for our family even knows he is a veteran. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Christian, Muslim, or Atheist you probably know a veteran. Whether you are pro-war or against war, you probably know a veteran. I am proud of my father’s service.
Sometimes we never really see the other side of a war when we are in armed conflict; this can become a pretty ethnocentric experience. One of my students grew up in Vietnam during the war. She is an extremely bright, curious, and amazing student that loves to learn and challenge herself. One day, in class, we were speaking about childhood and she shared her experiences with the class. She told us how she would hear bombs, gunshots, and fields burning every night. Her parents only allowed her to go to school and back home. She never had any friends, she never went out, and she never was allowed to do any activities. It was too dangerous to go outside; she had to stay inside and would complete her homework. On numerous occasions, the front line would get too close and she would have to go in the safe room, which her family had built in their basements. One day, she came home from school and no one was home. She waited for hours for her family to come home, but no one did. Her brother was actually severely injured in a bombing that happened in his work building. Her family was at a hospital because they saw her brother’s building collapse after the bomb. Thankfully, the brother survived. He still has large burns marks and scars down his shoulder and back. My student said that this was her childhood. She would not change it for anything because it is hers; it wasn’t pleasant, but this is what made her what she is today.
This week we honor those who have served; those who have witnessed; those who have experienced; those who have died; those who have survived; and those who have so much to share of their experiences.
Tags: AmeriCorps, citizenship, civic engagement, esol learners, naturalization ceremony, USCIS
As an AmeriCorps instructor for LCNV, I try to provide a place for adult students to experience English. In this regard, October 11 was a gift – I was able to bring my students to one of two Naturalization Ceremonies, which the James Lee Community Center hosted. A new LCNV student, Candida, participated in the ceremony and is now an American citizen! The Naturalization Ceremony compliments the curriculum in LCNV’s Civics and Community term:
Where are you from? What’s your name? What languages do you speak? Speaking about basic personal information is a crucial life skill. At the beginning of the term, my class also practiced this skill to build a sense of community. We weren’t learning English alone; we were learning English with peers from eight different countries and five different language backgrounds. Before reciting the Oath of Allegiance, naturalization candidates stand when their home countries are called. There’s no mistaking what it means for individuals, who hail from dozens of countries, to initially stand separated by country, then as one as U.S. citizens.
But what is a “citizen”? When we practiced filling out forms with basic personal information, my class profiled important American figures and world leaders. Some students became familiar with President Obama, Governor Mitt Romney, and Governor Bob McDonnell for the first time. When the ceremony prompted the question of what it means to be a citizen, we demonstrated how a person with U.S. citizenship can elect Barack Obama or Mitt Romney this November for president.
Even further, the ceremony motivated two of my students to share that they too want to pass the citizenship test – a chance to avail them of LCNV’s tutoring services. Events like the Naturalization Ceremony are English-in-action, illustrating ways to expand LCNV lessons and activities into the Northern Virginia community.
Gratitude must go to the James Lee Community Center for co-hosting the Naturalization Ceremonies with LCNV, and to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for permitting our classes to join in the celebratory occasion.
Tags: 1 Mile Fun Run, 8k, acumen solutions, alumni, AmeriCorps, americorps partners, announcement, Announcements, arlington race, Basic Adult Literacy, Boy and Girls Club, Children, community, Fairfax Education, family event, family fun, Family Learning, for love of children, friends, give, giving, Greenbrier Learning Center, James Lee Community Center, literacy, literacy council, literacy council of northern virginia, local superheroes, north quincy street, October 14th, Our Daily Bread, race for a cause, run for local charities, run or walk, select the non-profit of your choice, students, The Reading Connection, the women's center, the women's centert, united for d.c., Volunteer, volunteers, you get to be a superhero too, young playwright's theatre
Don’t miss your chance to sign up to support the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia for the Acumen Solutions™ Race for a Cause 8K and 1 Mile Fun Run, which takes place this Sunday, October 14, 2012, in Arlington.
This a great event with a “super” post race event, which includes yummy food from Anita’s, Chidogo’s, and Whole Foods, as well as fun kids activities AND awesome raffle prizes for “big” kids (must be present to win)! Come support our local Superheroes. We encourage you to sport your favorite “superhero” attire! Don’t have a cape? Acumen Solutions will also be providing capes to all youth registrants!
We still need 40 registrants to be eligible for race proceeds. YOU can help us reach our goal! Join our walking literacy team?
Not in town? Sponsor a friend or family member as a runner! Every donation – big or small – helps support our cause. Please call or email Suzie Eaton (email@example.com) with any questions and go to www.theraceforacause.com to sign up!
- 8k: $35 through October 13
- $40 Race Day
- 1 Mile Fun Run: $20 Youth (no shirt; gift will be provided!);$35 Adult (8k technical T-shirt)
Registration Packet Pickup @ Potomac River Running Store, Arlington:
- Friday October 12, 4-8 pm
- Saturday October 13, 11 am – 4 pm
- Sunday October 14 (Race Day), 6:30 am – 7:30 am
Tags: 50th anniversary, Alexandria Masonic Temple, alumni, AmeriCorps, americorps partners, announcement, Announcements, barbara favola, Basic Adult Literacy, Calypso del Sol, celebrity chef, Class, community, David Baldacci, DC Central Kitchen, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, financial advisor, Fresh Start Catering, gala, gala event, George Washington Masonic Memorial, jim moran, Jose Andres, Jose Andres Puerta, LCNV, lcnv learners, literacy, literacy council, literacy council of northern virginia, Mark Keam, Old Town Alexandria, One for the Books, raffle, Ric Edelman, Robert Egger, Spanish Chef, St. John, student stories, students, teaching, thank you!, tutoring, Volunteer, volunteers
On October 3, the Northern Virginia community came together to honor LCNV’s 50th year of providing much needed literacy services. The evening was filled with a festive and energizing spirit. LCNV held a raffle for a week-long stay in St. John, which raised nearly $10,000 to help our students. Steve Beggs was the lucky winner! Attendees also had the unique opportunity to hear from a LCNV student, Fatima, and learn how literacy has changed her and her children’s lives.
The Literacy Council extends a big thank you to Robert Egger who served as Master of Ceremonies, and José Andrés, David Baldacci, and Ric Edelman for sharing how literacy has impacted their lives. State Senator Barbara Favola presented a proclamation to LCNV, and Congressman Jim Moran and Delegate Mark Keam shared their support.
Highlighting the partnership between LCNV and Wish You Well Foundation, Baldacci stated: “I would urge all of you to do as much as you can. Quite frankly, there could be no higher purpose in the nation.”
During the event, LCNV announced that an anonymous donor challenged the Council this year to raise gifts from new donors, as well as increased gifts from existing donors. The challenge will match these gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. Andrés was the first to answer this call for support by making the first contribution to LCNV’s challenge grant. Will you join him in helping LCNV meet this challenge?
Lastly, thank you to the following individuals who were instrumental in making this event a huge success: Mark Troppe, One for the Books Chair; Jan Auerbach; Avis Black; Cathleen Donnelly; Sally Jaggar; Misty Jones; Sarah Kenney; and Robin Walker.
Tags: 50 years of literacy, 50th anniversary, Alexandria Masonic Temple, alumni, AmeriCorps, americorps partners, announcement, Announcements, Basic Adult Literacy, Calypso del Sol, celebrity chef, community, David Baldacci, DC Central Kitchen, financial advisor, Fresh Start Catering, gala, gala event, George Washington Masonic Memorial, Jose Andres, Jose Andres Puerta, LCNV, lcnv learners, literacy, literacy council, literacy council of northern virginia, Old Town Alexandria, One for the Books, raffle, Ric Edelman, Robert Egger, Spanish Chef, St. John, students, thank you!, Volunteer, volunteers
Please join the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia this evening for our One for the Books gala!
Join LCNV, celebrity chef José Andrés, award-winning author David Baldacci, top-ranked financial advisor Ric Edelman, and nonprofit leader Robert Egger in celebrating 50 years of improving our community through literacy!
DATE: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2012 │ 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
LOCATION: George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Dr., Alexandria, VA 22301
ACCESS: Free parking is available. Closest Metro station is King St.
TICKETS: Event tickets can be purchased in person tonight at the event, starting at 6 pm.
OPPORTUNITIES THIS EVENING INCLUDE:
- A raffle drawing for a week-long stay in St. John! Please consider purchasing a $50 chance in person this evening! The lucky winner will be announced tonight.
- Book signing by José Andrés, David Baldacci, Ric Edelman, and Robert Egger at the end of the event. Books will be available for purchase on site that evening.
- Adding a leaf on LCNV’s Giving Tree. Leaves on the tree can be purchased for various dollar amounts. Each leaf contains an item that will aid the Literacy Council in its effort to enrich the lives of those who wish to understand, speak, read and write English.
- And, finally, there will be a “bookshelf” where you can write the title of your favorite book and put it on the bookshelf. What an opportunity to reminisce about all the favorite books you have read and try to figure out the best one! And you can get ideas for future reads from books listed by other attendees.
Thank you for your participation! We look forward to seeing you tonight at One for the Books!
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, Va 22042│ (703)237-0866 │www.lcnv.org