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Summer's Over from Field Reports

Well this is the final report to you guys. I have enjoyed my time working for Americorp. Our center has gone through a lot of ups and downs over the last three years and we still continue to be here for our kids. Financially this year we had no funding but we had angels among us! We had Ms.Thelma who donated her time to continue to provide services to our kids. We had Yasmeen ( our rising senior) who also donated her time to continue to provide services for our kids. We had other high school and middle school students who donated their time to tutor and work with our kids because they believe in the cause, which to us is on two fronts,literacy and technology. The biggest angel of all was Mr. King (he has a heart that is just so big and he loves kids oh so much!).
Well around April, I had just about thought I was licked when I walked up on the porch from another one of those meetings where you think this is gonna help your center through the rough patch and it turns out to be the same meeting you attended last week with a different name. As I walked up to the porch I noticed two men sitting on the porch deep in discussion. I walked up to say good afternoon. The gentlemen talking was the owner of our building and our State Representative Wendell Gillard. We had done some community work with him back last year and he promised that he would come back and support us.
As I spoke to him he said, " I told you I would come back and so here I am keeping my word." Mr. Gillard talked about what he was doing at the capital as well as locally and then turned his focus on us. He said he knew of a gentlemen named David Landy who worked with youth on an entrepenuership program.
Once Mr. Landy was contacted Ms. Thelma, Yasmeen and I got things rolling and we have not stopped since. At first things were slow. Then our youth showed Mr. Landy they very much wanted to work and learn how to run a business as well as learn good work habits. Mr. Landy has donated some of the proceeds from the ICEE Carts to the PINK HOUSE. Our youth has been out three times a week working to keep our center open because of Mr. Landy's donation. We have been working with Mr. Landy for a month now and I can see where this project will help the center.
We are also working on creating an ABC Voucher pre-school program at our center to help parents with preschooler who leave school at 11 am and 3pm.
The parents last year had a hard time getting their preschoolers from school at 11 am. We will be meeting with DSS to sign up to become a ABC voucher site next month. This is another resource to help the center.
Mr. Landy informed us today that he has approached the City of Charleston to allow the PINK HOUSE Kids to contract with the City to Sell Icee at every city event for a precentage of the profits made. We also have plans to talk to the local high school booster club to allow our kids to sell ICEE at the local games. Our PINK HOUSE kids will do a presentation to the City of Charleston.
As you can see we've been very busy.
We have also been working on a video newsletter that we have not completed yet because the summer is not over yet. We are on our last three days for the summer program. We are going to the beach tomorrow. Ahh... sun and surf and cook out food...
Our missionary group came again this summer and we have some kids who really needed literacy boosting. We had great time with the Group leader. She fit right in with our staff and our kids. This is the last week and I'm gonna miss Katie.
Ms. Thelma and Yasmeen and I continue to support Rev. King's dream of the PINK HOUSE.
Oh yeah, we do plan to open the center for the fall program!
Ya'll take care, I really loved being apart of this program.
Renae Smack

over 11 years ago

Summer jobs from Field Reports

I got to try on my HR hat in June, working with two high-school interns I recruited through a partnership with a local minority high school internship program.
Earlier in the year, I applied for Media Bridges to be a work site for the Careers in Media internship, which is run by the local ABC affiliate TV station, WCPO. Careers in Media places high school students entering their senior year at newspapers, TV and radio stations, public relations firms, Web sites, ethnic media and other media organizations.
One of our interns worked with me in the education department, doing video production and editing and helping out with our youth-produced TV show. The other worked with my fellow VISTA, Katie, on promotions for our new soon-to-be launched low-power FM radio station, WVQC. I was excited to have high school students involved in a substantial way at Media Bridges, inside and outside of my youth media project. I also think the Careers in Media program is pretty awesome; I would have loved to do that when I was in high school.
Media Bridges has a good, flexible internship program for college/vocational students, so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel in adapting it to the high school interns. But working with high school students as volunteers or interns definitely requires more coordination than working with college students and adults. Teenagers aren’t always in control of their own schedules, may not have their own transportation, and may be in their first workplace experience. But they have great ideas, work hard, learn quickly, and may be just as skilled as college interns.
I agree with the prevailing wisdom that interns are not free labor; you will invest as much time in them as they will save you by doing work. Good reasons for having an internship program? It helps develop a qualified pool of people who may come back to serve your nonprofit or your cause/industry, it brings (young) people into your organization and allows them to take responsibility and ownership of your mission, and it exposes the intern to people, opportunities and ideas in a career they are interested in.
This internship program was a good deal for us because we didn’t have to do the work recruiting and selecting the interns. The interns also had bi-weekly seminars they attended as a group about workplace etiquette, job search skills, and preparing for college. Many cities have summer work programs for teens with the same kind of structure, and partnering with them would be a good way to start hosting youth interns.

over 11 years ago

Month 12: End of Service from Field Reports

I cannot believe this year is already over, especially given the many challenges and accomplishments. I leave with more perspective and knowledge than I had, most of it good, but also with an awareness that public service does not end here. True leaders are public servants, and being a VISTA for a year at the IMC definitely combined real leadership and real servitude. I think I am more capable than when I started. This is perhaps the most collaborative work experience I've had, and in the process I've grown to know many talented individuals. An interesting side effect is that I am actually a part of this town now - I don't just live here or have a job here.
That is not to say that this type of service is not difficult. Working hard and being available to guide and help others, all on low pay and in sometimes confusing non-profit contexts, can be stressful and disheartening. My advice to new VISTAs is:
1.) Find a wide base of friends and colleagues for mutual support. Sometimes you will need advice, introductions, or just a meal or a night out. VISTA is more or less social service work - you cannot do it alone.
2.) Budget wisely. This does not mean trying to live strictly on ramen noodles; it means allocating not just your financial resources, but your physical and mental resources. Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and giving yourself breaks, but get used to the idea that some personal expenses have to wait. Learn how to say no to needless expenses or excessive requests of your time.
3.) Show appreciation for those who help you, and demand appreciation for your own efforts. Real respect is mutual.
4.) Get to know the area where you are serving, including people and places outside of your organization and your immediate circle of friends.
5.) Remind yourself why you decided to do this, and make the best of it. This is as much a chance to accomplish your goals as it is a way to help others.
The final resources I am leaving with my host organization are a series of training guides for different areas of independent media and non-profit arts and technology organization. During my final month, I compiled, edited, and completed these and I am including a representative sample of some of them here as attachments. Though documentation was by no means the only component of my service at the IMC, these guides provide a summary of the types of projects we started and a better culmination to my field reports than any parting words. Use these manuals for your own projects if you find them helpful, and share with your organizations - topics include radio station management, radio production, audio editing, event planning, and web publishing.

over 11 years ago

In the merry, merry month of May... from Field Reports

I wrapped up a 20-week long after-school outreach I’ve been teaching at an elementary school. I worked with two groups of students: the older group made a documentary about the experiences of their classmates who have moved to the U.S. from other countries, and the younger group made a collection of short instructional videos on topics of their choice (drawing, making a paper airplane, counting to ten in Japanese, making farting noises with your armpit, etc.).
Both videos were screened for parents at the after-school program’s year-end showcase. The kids were excited to see themselves on the screen, and it was really cool to talk to all the parents whose kids appeared in the film or who worked on it.
But the highlight of the month was taking a group of kids to a fancy, televised awards ceremony.
The Blue Chip Cable Access Awards are given out each year to recognize the work of volunteer producers of cable access programs in Greater Cincinnati. A short documentary made by one of last summer’s video camps I helped with at Media Bridges was nominated in the “student K-5” category. So, I rounded up the kids and parents to go to the award ceremony, which was held at a grand old restored movie theater. When their group was announced as the winner, I ushered a bunch of mostly shy kids up on stage, where they all got big rounds of applause for their acceptance speeches. One girl’s was, “Thank you, people.”
Here's the group photo, complete with shiny award plaque: http://ctcvista.org/files/IMG_7496b.JPG
Both events were good reminders of how important it is to follow through on projects that involve people in creating media. If we want people to realize the power their voices can have through media, we should involve them in the distribution, not just the production. When you put a piece of media “out there,” others will see it, and that is an important media literacy lesson. I see a lot of light bulbs turn on when kids see other people reacting to their work, whether those people are their parents or an entire theater full of people. Distributing one’s work can be an encouraging ego boost, but it can also be humbling and intimidating. Either way, it promotes responsible media-making.
The award-winning documentary was about an awesome, kid-friendly art museum where you can touch and interact with the artwork. It is called the UnMuseum, and it is housed in Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center. You can see the video in the youth section of the Media Bridges Web site.
Those of you looking to hone your armpit farting skills will have to wait. I haven’t been able to put those videos up yet. One problem that we constantly have with younger groups is that the instructor always ends up having to do additional editing after the outreach or class is over. Does anyone has a good model for this or any advice?

over 11 years ago

Still going strong from Field Reports

Though for most, this is the end of the VISTA term, I'm sticking around through at least February, which I'm excited about. Lots more work ahead. No time to be heading out. Things have been so busy that it's hard to remember exactly what this month has brought. I've done a lot of work with our summer intern, getting him trained and working hard. But also really digging deep into the thinking about planning about how we use volunteers, outreach and market to them, and how we help communities meet their goals. We're experimenting with flipcams as a tool that communities can use to document their stories and I've been working on developing language around the outreach for them. I've also been developing our archive of artistic work to make it accessible and usable for us and our constituents. As we think about moving forward into a new stage of our website, it's important to have a clean and useful database of artistic content.
This next month I'm headed out to Eureka, CA for a professional development residency in community theater. I'm really hoping I'll be able to bring back some ideas and plans for how to strategize theatrical work in our web-based project.

over 11 years ago

Wrapping it up from Field Reports

Fellow VISTAs,
My term is coming to an end later (7/31) than most of yours so I still have some time left to wrap things up. I've basically just been working with our "in-house" evaluators on the data etc we've collected to put together our report on TAP. Although I'm bummed about the program not continuing, I've had a really great year and I've learned a lot. I've been looking for other jobs, so far I've only gotten one real response from the 10 or so resumes I've sent out. It's kind of nerve wracking but still exciting. I'll be sure to post our final report and probably pass on the curriculum I worked on to Ben. I've enjoyed reading about everyone's experiences and will pass along more information/insights. Good luck to everyone as your years wrap up.
--Will

over 11 years ago

Mon Jul 6 15:01:58 EDT 2009 from Field Reports

Since my previous field report, I have:

participated in a discussion of how the CCTS (the org I'm serving)
should develop its "business" in the future.
helped the hiring process by placing ads and by participating in
the interview of a candidate;
studied some existing, alternative, Content Management Systems
(CMS) not invented at CCTS, as candidate replacements for the CMS
that was invented at CCTS;
demonstrated a pattern for adding automated tests for the CCTS
CMS, documenting the tests, and at the same time, documenting the
requirements;
investigated somewhat into how we might be able to achieve
a cleaner separation between
the core CMS and the customizations of it to the needs of specific
clients;
maintained a file server (made backups, etc.) for the office files
maintained an environment for our software development
(using the Ubuntu distribution);
supported workstations running one of Microsoft's operating systems
helped move the office;
constructed a "sandbox" installation of the CCTS CMS for
demonstrating its ease of use;
contributed time to the maintenance of the CMS;
participated in an interim edit of the old, static, CCTS web site
taught other personnel about programming techniques and principles
(e. g., finite-state machines).

Please keep in mind that since the purpose of the CCTS is to build the
capacity of other organizations, anything I do that helps CCTS,
contributes to capacity building in the social-profit sector.

over 11 years ago

End of Service Report from Field Reports

Hello everyone, I imagine this is will be the final post. Well basically I have been doing about the same; meeting with the green project members, getting someone to take over the classes in word, and Linux. The green project meetings continue we have found an interior designer and a professional artist willing to give us a hand, the artist is willing to stay on and teach art. In addition, there are other members of the Obama campaign that are willing to write grants to enable us to get the electric up to code, plumbing repairs, new instructors, books and programs. I also got individuals to come by to inspect the Arts and Education building. The report was favorable; they said the roof has sound beams and the wood used for beam looked almost new. I talked with my supervisor and we decided to get a summer youth work program started here at the shelter. We have 5 district students to come into our program, most have computer skills so they can work on setting up the Wildtech data base and other technical aspects. There are two students that are sixteen years of age with some construction experience, so we decided to let them work on scraping the walls in the Arts and Education building.

over 11 years ago

I'm in for 3 more months : ) from Field Reports

Hola hola mundo! We have had weird weather in June so far here in Southern California.
Just finished mailing out hundreds of Wired for Wireless Reports. Thanks Stephen for shooting that email, by the way! I am continuing to send out reports. This brings me to the database. Bounced mailed reports are actually in our favor because it helps to clean the database. And so now, updating the database is of primary focus as well as using GIS tools (most likely Google Maps/Earth) to map out our network.
Also, I helped organize California Emerging Technology Fund’s (CETF) very first webcast of a new campaign they launched for Southern California titled Get Connected: Your Life Made Easier. Thanks to the Bresee Foundation who actually brought out the equipment for the press conference.
Finally, I recently got a CTC VISTA extension for about three months. I am blessed to get the extension. I enjoy working here, and there are still a few things I need to get done.
This may be the last month a few of you will be posting. I thank you for your help and your service…I am sounding like the president, jeje. Please stay in (Twitter) touch: @OsoHormiguero.

over 11 years ago

Passing on our knowledge from Field Reports

Our year's coming to a close, and not all of us are staying on with the CTC VISTA Project, but wouldn't it be nice if we could pass on our wisdom to the incoming class? I propose we create a hashtag on Twitter and tweet advice up till July 27 (I think that's the official start date). The field reports are a rich resource but take a significant amount of time to sift through. Probably several of us will be kicked off the listserv come July 11.
For anybody who's up to it, let's go with #ctcvista. Invite any former CTC VISTAs you know to tweet, and let's keep it constructive!
UPDATE: Twitter's great for bite-sized advice, but for those who don't use it, the Facebook discussion thread would be an accessible place to leave advice.

over 11 years ago