"I am an AmeriCorps member and I will get things done!"
So concludes the AmeriCorps Pledge, an oath taken by AmeriCorps members to align themselves with the values of AmeriCorps.
On Friday, October 6, 2017, the National Service Task Force, along with Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), hosted the Philadelphia AmeriCorps Launch to recognize the work done by the many different programs under the AmeriCorps umbrella across the city. It is an all-day kickoff event including a series of speakers, team-building activities, and deployment to service sites across the city to engage members in direct service work. This year’s event was held at the bottom of the Art Museum steps. AmeriCorps members from programs including City Year, Promise Corps, PowerCorps, and more were present for the day’s festivities.
The event began with remarks from speakers including Mayor Jim Kenney, City Year Philadelphia Executive Director Darryl Bundrige, former Executive Director of City Year Wyneshia Foxworth, and Debra Lytle- Program Officer for the Pennsylvania State Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Each speaker expressed thanks to those in attendance and underlined the importance of this work in the current national climate. This portion of the event closed with representatives from each program coming to the stage to shout-out their program and provide a reason why they choose to serve.
Following the opening ceremony, Playworks Coaches led groups through team-building games to help facilitate mingling between programs. The games are representative of the strategies coaches use to reach students and guide them through facilitated recess activities. These activities lead into lunch, followed by dispersal to service sites.
For the service portion of the day, I lead a group to the Share Food Program. Our group worked to support Share’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which supplies seniors in the Philadelphia area and surrounding counties with monthly boxes of nutritious foods. Some members of our team were stationed along an assembly-line to put items into boxes. Others worked on weighing the boxes for accuracy, arranging completed boxes to be loaded onto the pallet jack, and transporting the large pallets to another area of the facility. Not only was this a time for all of us to perform a service for the community, but many got to learn skills that could be utilized in most warehouse or factory jobs. One teammate had previous experience and was able to help teach others.
While my position this year as a SERVE Philadelphia VISTA does not allow me to perform direct service, this time spent helping bring a valuable service to a portion of the 6,000+ seniors who participate in CSFP felt extremely worthwhile. As a second-year AmeriCorps member –I served with City Year last year– I came into this event with a different mindset than my first year when I didn’t fully understand the reach of AmeriCorps. Having now served with two very different AmeriCorps programs, I can see how the Launch represents the full array of what it means to serve with AmeriCorps in Philadelphia. It is wholly inspiring to see such a large group of like-minded people come together for a worthy cause.
Anna Snyder is part of the SERVE Philadelphia VISTA Corps. She is the Community Schools Summer Systems Planning VISTA in the Mayor’s Office of Education. She previously served as a corps member with City Year Philadelphia in 2016-2017.
Are you interested in being a part of next year's SERVE Philadelphia VISTA Corps? Fill out an interest form today!