Monthly Archives: July 2007

Last day of service

Sorry for skipping yesterday’s post. I didn’t get in from work until late (had a dentist appointment on top of that, to boot) and just didn’t feel like cracking open the old bit-twitcher once I got home and got sucked into the loving embrace of a new novel by one of my favorite authors.

Anyway, today is my last official day of service. I’ll end up coming back for a while anyway, if for no other reason than I still need to finish the painting on the trailer (there’s just a bit left, but the weather has been downright sodden lately and it hasn’t been dry enough to get those last bits finished this last week). And there are still a few projects that I don’t want to leave cold, and I’ll need to collect July’s volunteer data for the office, so I’ll be around.

It’s been crazy this last week. My brain-bits resembled nothing so much as a flock of pigeons that has just been run through by a 5 year old – pppfffffttttrrrrrrr. Scattered all over the place and with no discernible flight plan. I’ve been running around trying to get all ongoing projects finished (or at least to a point where they can be easily finished by others) plus maintain my regular duties.

In addition to that, there’s been exit paperwork to do (necessitating scheduling a trip to the office around all the other slalom-like flags on my calendar), databases to start entering data into so we could see if it’s all working (it is, more or less – woohoo!), a dentist appt yesterday and a doctor appt today (got to take advantage of that insurance while I’ve got it), my own personal business to try to bring up to speed so I don’t get sucked into homelessness when I lose this check…and much, much more!

There’s a nice graduation party tonight at the Governor’s Western Residence. I’m even going to shave my legs so I can wear a dress (yeah, I know…the shock of it has the whole center here in an uproar).

After that…well, like I said, I’ll be winding down my work here over the next week or so, and I’ve told them to give me a call if they need me and if I can swing it, I’ll help out. Like I said, I’ve got my own copywriting and marketing strategies businesses to spin up to speed, as well. I’ve got a few nibbles on the line, so cross your fingers.

In other words, I’ll be plenty busy-busy.

And I’ll be keeping up with this blog, too, although probably not daily. I will keep up with my adventures in navigating Americorps Educational Award land and dealing with any remaining paperwork, plus writing about Alumni stuff and articles of interest to those considering joining Americorps. And, since I still want to write a book about what you need to know before you join, I’ll be using this blog to keep notes, comment on my progress and so on.

So, I’m not abandoning anyone. We’ll stay in touch.

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The end of summer camp, and more exhibits

Yesterday was the last day of summer camp, and the photo/awards show at Pisgah View for the PVA and Woodridge summer camp kids (we folded 2 outstanding students from Woodridge into the PVA group so they could go, since Woodridge wasn’t funded for a summer camp).

So, even more photo-y goodness, and I got kid-mobbed when I arrived. Apparently the kids missed me (yeah, I missed them too). The photos were great, and they all got a gift certificate for free ice cream and a book when they were presented with the developed pack of photos they took. As each kid came up, the counselors (my fellow Americorps members) spoke about the student’s strong points and what they liked about them. Then we had ice cream.

Very cool.

The main YMCA Outreach group also held a photo show at the Ramsey Library gallery on the UNCA campus later that night. One of the Y leaders had interviewed the students about their photos and made a CD of clips, and you could pick up a CD player and view the exhibit while listening to the interviews, which was spectacular. Considering the photos were being featured in a nice library gallery, it was gratifying to see them treating the kids’ works with the same level of respect and attention as the regular exhibits. Some of the kids had even received offers for prints of their photos! How cool is that?

It was a great experience to see all those photos and hear the artist talking about them. Very posh. This was an amazing idea and I hope they continue doing it in the years to come.

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1700 hours completed – wooohooo!

I was getting antsy about the upcoming juggling act between the service year ending on Tue, but my timesheets not being ready until afterward if I was going to have to record them until the end of my service. After emailing my program coordinator about it, she said that most of us would have our hours done before the end of the month, and if we did we could turn them in before.

So, I went back and put all of my hours to date into the timesheet spreadsheet (I usually save that task for the last day) and…

Wooohoooo! I actually completed my hours sometime in the middle of Tuesday the 17th!

*snoopy dance*

Not only does this mean I successfully completed my term of service (which I wasn’t actually worried about), but it means I don’t have to play shell games with my timesheets and exit interview on top of handling my ongoing assignment responsibilities and getting to a doctor’s appt on my last day. Sweet!

Next stop, graduation!

Edit: For prospective Americorps members, please note that finishing your time before your service year is up means nothing but the fact that you may be able to turn in paperwork early, or that if you break your leg or something that puts you out of work, you’re covered. It does not mean you quit showing up for work or coast out your last days, weeks or (dear heavens, when did you sleep?) months.

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“I am protected”

The summer camp that our homework club kids are attending is winding up for the year (today is their last day, actually), and as part of the program the kids were given cameras to take pictures of their experiences. Yesterday was the first showing of these photos at the Deaverview Community Center for the Deaverview Homework Club kids. Today is the bigger showing at Pisgah View (the club I served at). I don’t actually know these kids much (I’ve only seen the DVHC in action a few times), but I helped set up the photos and attended the event itself. It was really cool. The kids took some great photos.

But the most powerful moment of the night for me wasn’t a photo at all. As part of the exhibit, there were also some stories written by the kids about their experiences, to go along with some of the photos. A lot of them touched on how cool it was to learn and do new things and see new places, which is pretty neat by itself. But one student’s comments really hit me hard.

The student wrote about how at summer camp, no one made fun of you, even if you got scared halfway up a rock and cried for your mother. They talked about how this environment taught them that even if you lose a game, it could still be fun. And the kicker comment for me was that in summer camp, they wrote, “I am protected.”

Yeah. Big throat lump time.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t protected. I grew up abused at home and bullied at school. I did get some reprieve at Girl Scouts and at my grandparents. But mostly, not so much.

So even if I wasn’t at summer camp and I didn’t work with this kid directly, to know that I was a part of a program that was able to do that for a kid is an extremely powerful and healing for me. At that moment, reading that line, everything that happened this year was worth it.

Not that I was unhappy with my service year before that, not at all. We did a lot of good work, of which this is just one more piece. But that comment made it concretely clear that I did what I set out to do when I signed up for this gig – to make life better for these kids, to give them the security and support that I didn’t have, to give back what those few people who had tried to protect and support me had given me. To heal for someone else, to whatever extent I could, the wounds I received.

To some people that may sound weird, but the reality is sometimes the best (or only) way to heal or get closure on a past hurt is to figuratively bandage someone else’s hurt. When someone hurts you, especially as a child, they take away some of your power by taking away your sense of safety, your sense of security and your sense of sanity (of things making sense and being predictable and workable). They make the world an capricious, dangerous place to live and they twist the natural, inborn trust and reliance we have for others who are supposed to love us and take care of us into cynicism and mistrust. That loss of power can stick with you for a long time, leaving you to grow up insecure, anxious, fearful, feeling helpless or dependent on others for approval, permission and self-worth.

Changing this dynamic for someone else allows you to take back the power your abuser or situation took from you. By recreating the situation, stepping into your abuser’s position and then changing the outcome to something positive, you take back that power. You take away their power to hurt you by putting yourself on equal footing with them (being in a position to affect the life of someone) and then using that power for good, rather than harm.

And it’s also healing because it’s like overwriting a bad file (what happened) with a new one (the better outcome). In the same way you can begin to believe a lie if you repeat it enough times, you can also begin to believe a truth (kids can rely on adults to keep them safe and support them, adults won’t betray your trust) the same way.

And that might seem like a lot of stuff to come from one short statement. But those three words released a lifetime of hurt and powerlessness.

So while it’s true that a picture may be worth a thousand words, sometimes just a few words can hold the power to change the world.

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Welcom to our newest Americorps member!

Americorps baby

Woohoo! One of our Americorps team members gave birth to a healthy baby girl this morning!

Welcome to the team, little one. I hope you’ve got your last 9 months worth of timesheets in order…

Look, ma…I’m a mediator!

can callz a negosheeators?

[live reenactment above*]

Completed my first live mediation tonight, and it was a success!

I was scared spitless going in, but my co-mediator was a real pro whose style worked very well with my own personality, and the process went as smooth as silk. Sweet!

No details, of course (confidentiality and all that), but it involved the custody of a small animal who is loved intensely by several different people and not at all amenable to being split in half (or more). Solomonic wisdom notwithstanding, I think it finally worked out in everybody’s best interest, including the little heartbreaker’s.

*A note to sensitive readers: The comments that were alongside the source photo indicate that the object of adoration above is a toy bird, not a real one. No animals were injured in the making of this post.

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Bang your head…

Spent the morning finishing the painting of the trim on the back of the trailer. A good way to spend some time alone, which I needed considering I’m still at the intermittently weepy stage of dealing with Friday’s horrors and didn’t feel like being all cheerful to clients and such. It was a good decision, as it turns out, since “attitude man” came back today to butt heads with yet another staff member (and got nowhere, again) and went out in a huff (again) without me noticing.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure dealing with him in my current state would have been productive, for values of productive approaching “explosively craptacular.”

Speaking of banging your head against a wall, I was this close to having that database done. Really.

But there’s this form, see. And it keeps breaking. And, since this is a legacy form from the original template and I didn’t create it, I don’t know why. The thing is, this form does a bit of fancy footwork that I’m pretty sure I can’t replicate (it opens reports that are filtered based on the record you’re currently looking at – way over my head) and that I pretty much want to keep.

Gah.

Probably what I’ll end up doing is just creating a report or two that will be the most likely requested filtered ones and kludge in the filtering by way of criteria that will have to be entered, then scrap the busted form and build a newer, less useful one. Pity, that.

But hey. That’s what you get when you hire an amateur to do a code monkey’s work. If I knew what the hell I was doing, I’d be making a lot more money. And I’d have groupies.

Mmmm…groupies.

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