Thursday, April 5, 2012

AmeriCorps VIP Fellows Visit Blind Children's Learning Center!

VIP Fellows Luis Alberto and Nancy Govea getting in some sand box time!
To celebrate AmeriCorps week, which was celebrated by AmeriCorps members around the country March 12-16, the ten VIP Fellows placed in Orange County joined Miriam Levine, the current Fellow at Blind Children’s Learning Center, in volunteering with our students for a fun-filled morning. Participating in All School Music, recess and assisting with lunch, the Fellows were an instant hit! Although only slotted to spend two hours here, the Fellows had to be dragged away after three. 

Luis Alberto enjoying recess!

Luis Alberto, placed at The Boys and Girls Club of Tustin, explained, “The kids were very loving and welcoming, making it a lot more difficult to leave. The best part is making the kids smile. When that happens, it feels like the sun is coming out, shinning on everyone and letting them know it’s going to be OK. There was one particular boy who got really attached, making it impossible to leave with his "why" questions. I had an amazing time and wished I could of seen more the kid’s daily interactions and be a lot more involved. It just means I have to come back and volunteer in the future."
No shortage of smiles for
Nancy Govea!

Nancy Govea, placed at the Orange County Rescue Mission: Village of Hope in Tustin, shared, “There is nothing more precious in this world than an honest hug or a smile full of love from a child. My soul could not sustain the joy that these children gave me." 

Joanne Lin and a student
rocking the seesaw!
When asked about her experience working with one of our Kindergarten students, Joanne Lin, placed at the Harvest Club in Huntington Beach, said, "[The student] is six. She is spunky, funny, and fiercely independent. She made up an imaginary spice, 'friggle,' and sprinkled it over her lunch of sausage and rice. She giggled when I exclaimed she put in too much. After a mere five minutes, I forgot she is visually impaired. It's inspiring to learn that these kids may need help, but they are definitely not helpless."

In a time when it is easy to see what is wrong with the world, but hard to know what to do about it, Blind Children’s Learning Center was proud to host these individuals, who are, as the AmeriCorps slogan says, “getting things done for America.”

Steele Willison grabs
one more hug! 

In fact, AmeriCorps members have been getting things done since 1993. Formally created under President Clinton’s National and Community Service Trust Act, AmeriCorps is comprised of three national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health and the environment. Through the State and National, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), and NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) programs, over 80,000 men and women each year participate in intensive service to address education, poverty, health, disaster relief, and other critical issues, while mobilizing nearly 3 million volunteers for the organizations they serve. Since its creation in 1993, more than 775,000 individuals have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1 billion hours of service.

Kelli Norris is all smiles
during lunch!
This year there are more than 8,500 AmeriCorps members serving in communities across California, over 170 of which are participating in the CalSERVES Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP). Created in 2009, VIP Fellows are placed in nonprofits and community organizations, specifically focused on providing services to children and their families, to develop volunteer programs, and engage community members looking to do direct service to their communities. Through the management of OneOC (formerly Volunteer Center Orange County), there are currently ten Fellows placed in nine nonprofits around Orange County, including one right here at Blind Children’s Learning Center.