AmeriCorps ReStore: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

January 19, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Community | Comments Off on AmeriCorps ReStore: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
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As many of you probably know, all around the DC area, as well as in some other areas of the States, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has formed into the Martin Luther King Day of Service in tribute of Dr. King himself, to promote citizen action through service. This year, like in years past, the AmeriCorps crew, including our partners at Loudon and BEACON Literacy, jumped right on that bandwagon. For the four of us at LCNV, this meant that around 8:30 Monday morning, after carrying out our haphazardly organized carpool plan, we were off to ReStore: Chantilly.

Luckily for us, people around here go bonkers for the Day of Service, so it was not that difficult for us to track down potential service opportunities. After fairly extensive internet plundering, we opted for one of the service opportunities offered by NOVA: working at ReStore. ReStore (something I had never heard of before this!),is a resale outlet store owned and managed by Habitat for Humanity. With stores in 48 states throughout the country as well as in Canada, ReStore resells new and used building and household materials that have been donated to Habitat. As it was explained to us on Monday, the sales of the ReStore in which we worked make up for all Habitat’s administrative costs (often around 40% of every dollar), so 100% of donations can be used toward building. Go ReStore!

So, after we arrived, they showed us the ropes, and we took a run of the place (mostly consisting of “Oh, that would look good in our apartment” or “Ooo, I wonder how much that is” or “We could get a whirlpool into Jose’s trunk, right? Does anyone have some bungee cords?”), we got to work.

Our job centered on the tile/paint/wall paper/carpet swatch aisle. Our mission was simple: organize the tiles and paint. And, after walking to our allocated aisle and standing there looking at the ominously mismatched and heavy looking tiles for about ten minutes, we got down to business.

Needless to say after that initial ten minute stint of nonproductivity, we dove in with gusto. Maybe the paint fumes had finally gotten to me, but after a while, I came to think organizing tiles and stirring and classifying paint cans seemed sort of like lesson planning, a seemingly endless organizational venture with countless influencing factors (Stain or paint? Deductive reasoner or divergent thinker? White tile or cream tile? Listening activity or speaking activity?)… But then again, maybe it was just the fumes.

In the end, with only a few mishaps (think paint splatters in the facial region and garbage dumping fiascos), it really felt good to meet new people and get our hands dirty, even if we were all a bit sore the next day! I, for one, had a great time meeting Harman and seeing Sabrina again, from Loudon Literacy. Talking with them, I realized how easy it is for us four (or me, at least) to forget that there are other AmeriTeams out there on a similar road as us. It felt good to compare stories, if only briefly, and to feel a sense of camaraderie, formed through our AmeriCorps experience.

And finally, after saying our farewells to Harman, Sabrina, and our fellow NOVA servicers and taking the compulsory group AmeriPicture, we took our leave; fatigued and dusty, but definitely proud of the revolutionized tile/paint/wallpaper/carpet swatch aisle. Following a brief stint at the conveniently close Chick-fil-A (Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe, you must have been heaven sent!) we started back home to good ol’ Falls Church.

Physically tired, but with a newly inspired enthusiasm for my future in mosaics, I felt pretty darn good when we called it a day. I’ve always thought that service was the bee’s knees, but this reminded me how good it is to mix it up once in a while; especially when one comes out of such an experience with the wealth of knowledge of the white and beige color families as I did. Ha ha, just kidding…sort of. But seriously, overall, a great day for service! Cricket mallet white, anyone?

Ciao Ciao for now, and happy belated MLK Day!

-Sara Venjohn, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

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