Monthly Archives: September 2013

Reflections on SCARC Family Picnic from a New AmeriCorps Member

This past week was a series of firsts of me: work at my first “real” post-graduate job, my first day of work at said job (as an AmeriCorps Program Associate for Pass It Along), and my first Pass It Along volunteer experience. It is that last first, though, that explains why I embarked on this whole “series of firsts” in the first place.

On day three of the job, I was asked to assist with the S.C.A.R.C. Guardianship picnic. The event celebrated the clients S.C.A.R.C. serves, who are individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families. I agreed. Four days later, I arrived onsite at the Hampton Borough Park and found myself in awe of the sprawling park grounds, which housed a play ground set, numerous benches and tables, and an open air pavilion. I walked over to the pavilion and was greeted by fellow volunteers already busy bringing in mums and tables from the parking lot nearby. After all the supplies were hauled into the pavilion, we continued with more prep work: placing table clothes and mums on the picnic tables, arranging stations for the meal, coffee, and dessert, and gathering utensils.

Shortly thereafter, the caterers brought in the food (salad, bread, ziti bolognese, chicken marsala, and meatballs) and each  volunteer was assigned a tray. I was in charge of the meatballs! Almost immediately as I took my post, guests and their family members began arriving. Because I was dishing out some of the food, I was able to meet almost every person in attendance, which is pretty amazing considering just over a hundred individuals were there.

Meanwhile, a band began setting up and soon enough, I heard them rocking out and saw guests dancing away. It was wonderful seeing people enjoying the music and the day to the fullest.

When the food was all but gone, I was able to socialize with some of the attendees and learn more about the functions of the S.C.A.R.C. Guardianship department. It was a unique experience hearing from the S.C.A.R.C. employees about the nature of their work and simultaneously, seeing their work in action, and meeting the clients they serve.

Then, it was coffee and dessert time (jello and pumpkin pie with whipped cream—yum!). Everyone enjoyed the pie and especially the whipped cream. As the day was gradually cooling down, the steaming and freshly brewed coffee was also a hit. After dessert, people started leaving and soon enough, it was clean-up time!

Overall, the day was a wonderful introduction to Pass It Along’s programs and a great reminder of why I wished to join the organization in the first place. To explain the latter sentiment, I have to return to the rocking band and dancing guests. One dancer in particular I am thinking of now: a woman in a bright pink jacket, who danced from the end of her lunch until she was told it was time to leave. She seemed so free, so content, and so happy. Seeing her happiness and knowing that, in some small way, I was part of and responsible for that woman’s elevated state affirmed my choice to me. I cannot wait to participate in Pass It Along’s other programs and continue to share my experiences with you all.      

Chloé Briggs, the *New* AmeriCorps Program Associate
                    
   

New Faces, New Places

So today’s blog is a quick one (for once). I just wanted to take a minute to talk about some NEW stuff —and people—at Pass It Along.

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PIA’s newest AmeriCorps, member Chloé Briggs.

First off, I want to welcome our newest AmeriCorps member, Chloé Briggs. Chloé graduated from the University of Scranton in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in English and sociology. While attending school, she worked for the Women’s Studies Department. She’s looking forward to working with and inspiring young people. After completing her AmeriCorps service, Chloé plans to pursue a Master’s in social work. Hello and welcome, Chloé!

(P.S. There is still one additional AmeriCorps position open at PIA. If you or someone you know may be interested in the position, check out the description over at Idealist, and please, share and apply away!)

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PSU grad-turned-PIA-intern, Steve Malpiedi.

Next up, there’s Steve Malpiedi. Steve is a longtime friend and supporter of Pass It Along, and the creator of the “Only the Good Sky Young” Frisbee fundraiser. PIA was lucky to be a beneficiary of this event in both 2012 and 2013. Steve, a recent graduate from Penn State University with a BS in Mathematics and Minor in Economics, decided after moving back to Sparta that he again wanted to give back to the community through our organization.  Welcome, Steve!

There have been some too-cool school connections made with Pass It Along in recent weeks as well. On the 14th, Pass It Along partnered with Blair Academy to complete a day of service with 150 students at Camp Nejeda, The Nature Conservancy, and three additional sites. Thanks to this connection, lots of needed work was completed at all five sites hosting service projects for the group. Thanks, Blair Academy and students for helping make all that hard work turn into a great outcome for our partner agencies!

Last but not least, President Diane Taylor and our dedicated Passion and Purpose volunteer Pat were able to deliver the three-part self discovery workshop to a new audience this past week: 8th grade students at the beautiful and unique Ridge and Valley Charter School. The students, some of the first 8th graders to ever receive the program, were grateful, engaging, and invested in the P&P process. Thanks again for allowing us to be a part of the educational experience at your amazing school!

So, now you’re up to speed on all the stuff happening here. As always, if you have something to share with us at Pass It Along, feel free to email info@passitalong.org; post or message us on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/PassItAlong ) …or tweet to us @pass_it_along !

Till next time!

 –Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate

           

 

 

 

 

 

Bike Tour: Cyclists support "The Change" through a Sunday ride

Continuing what seems to be a Pass It Along theme….I was up really, really early on Sunday morning in the name of the organization. This weekend, rather than the 4:30 start time we stuck to for Triathlon, there was a reprieve till 6 am for this weekend’s Bike Tour.

Before I start to sound like a whiner, let me clarify: I was quickly rewarded by my early start when, on the way to the Long Pond School from picking up road cones at the Andover Police Station, I saw what I would consider one of the coolest sights of early fall – a sunrise over Lake Iliff, complete with the “cool air over warm water” fog effect. It was awesome, and only available to those awake in the pre-dawn hours at this transitional time in the season.

After that lovely sight, it was time to get down to business. There were registration tables to set up, tents to popup, food tables to prep, zones to cone, and banners to hang. Besides, there was only 90 minutes remaining at this point before riders were required to check in for the 56-mile route.

Thanks to lots of pre-planning and organizing by Eleanor, the set-up ran like clockwork and soon, there were a few minutes for volunteers to grab a bite for breakfast and a cup of coffee and gather their thoughts before the riders started to arrive. The mood was elevated by the tasty snacks and groovy tunes, which had been one of the first items set up in the early morning light, so as to get the day off to a good start.

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Morning air over Lake Iliff, as seen by M. Morsch

And arrive, they did – it seemed that the chill was still hanging in the air when the first bikers started heading for the registration table. These brave souls were all smiles as they grabbed their goody bags, joked with the registration team, picked up their tee shirts and hit the trail, heading out to follow the green arrows for their long, scenic ride around Sussex and Warren.

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Event planner Eleanor working check-in and explaining routes

While the only scenic sights myself and the rest of the volunteers saw on Sunday were the buildings and grounds of our gracious host, the Long Pond School, the riders reported that there were great sights to be seen, the routes were well-marked, and good times were had by all. The only road bump of the day was when a cyclist with his son in tow got a flat tire, but the situation was discovered by a marshal on his sweeping rounds, and the SAG wagon quickly dispatched to his location to get them back on the road.

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Marshals from Skylands Cycling, getting ready to ride.

Overall, it was another fun and productive fundraiser for Pass It Along.  The support we received from this event allows Pass It Along to continue to provide opportunities for youth volunteers to serve in soup kitchens and community gardens; improve public lands; mentor elementary and middle school students; and all of the many, many other wonderful things that this organization does each year. 90+ participants, great weather, and high-spirited volunteers made it an (early) Sunday morning that I won’t soon forget.

Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate

Moving Forward, Looking Back

Today is the first day of school in many area districts. As in January with the arrival of a new calendar year, so also is the new school year a time for both anticipation of things ahead, while at the same time ripe for reflection of the summer passed, and the school year that preceded it.
Pass It Along spent its summer…busy. Between Frisbee, Triathlon, and planning for Bike Tour, our event staff and volunteers were on their proverbial (well, sometimes actual) toes. Our field staff spent time playing softball with the residents in the SCARC programs on Tuesdays (when it wasn’t raining), out with good people at the Nature Conservancy expanding habitat and removing invasive species on Mondays, and in two area charity gardens three times per week…Not to mention the three Manna House Spaghetti Dinner dates, the Pet Shelter and Pet Therapy programs, and ongoing opportunities with the ConKerr Cancer crew. Oh, and who can forget Tilly’s Kids, which involved 20+ volunteers for 40 children, three times a week, too?  PHEW. I was thinking that maybe the summer would be a little more relaxed at the PIA office, but sadly, community need knows no holiday or vacation. It doesn’t take time off. So of course, our programming and our committed volunteers continued to serve, giving time and talent unselfishly while school (and many other institutions for that matter) took a summer break.
Our organization also experienced something sad in late August. Not only did the cool weather and summer rains harken what felt like an early start to fall, two of our AmeriCorps members, Kailey Denzer-Weiler and Alyssa Ciesla, finished their AmeriCorps service commitments and moved on to other employment and graduate school. While we wish them well at Rutgers University (both are attending!), we miss them greatly and hope they won’t forget about their PIA family just because they are now Master’s degree candidates.
Going forward though, there are good things on the horizon. Many good things, actually. LOTS of fall service opportunities, new relationships with area schools, and upcoming annual events are all things we are excited about. Bike Tour is in less than a week (weather forecast indicates it is going to be a great day for a ride, register here if interested!), to be quickly followed by our annual Youth Conference event at Sussex Tech on October 3rd, our fall installment of Box City October 18th-19th (an all-night homelessness awareness service event), and our participation in Make a Difference day on October 26th.  And did we mention that new AmeriCorps members are slated to start mid-month, too?
So, if there was any thought that maybe the fall would be a little calmer…!
No matter. There’s work to be done, and we are committed to continuing service to our local community. Here’s to hoping we will see you out there at one of our many upcoming events or programs…just in case it wasn’t clear…we could really use your help!