Showing posts from August, 2008

Wisconsin Ponderings

The AmeriCorps Pledge:

I will get things done for America -

to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,
I will take action.
Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.

To Lois, the 83 year old woman whose Wisconsin basement flooded over 2 months ago, thank you. When you told me your mother used to say "Thunder is God scolding the bad people," I laughed. When you told me your fiance died during World War II and that you are concerned about the young men of our generation fighting a new war, I worried. And after Tyler gave you a hug good-bye after our work and you said "I haven't had a hug like that in years!" I nearly cried. I came to clean your basement and instead spent 6 hours talking with you about your life and remembered the wisdo…

Where's Waldo?


Just a quick update about my travels since Summer of Service ended. I stayed in New Orleans for an extra week (my summer break) to work with my team who is rebuilding a home in the upper 9th ward. It was great to finally do a bit of reconstruction in the gulf! I loved my time in New Orleans and was sad to say goodbye. I must say, however, the sights while circling over the bayou and seeing the gulf waters from the height of a plane is a touching experience. What beauty!

I ended up in Perry Point, Maryland at the Eastern Region campus of AmeriCorps NCCC again, our headquarters for the year, and was soon shipped out to a most beautiful part of Southern Delaware at Cape Henlopen State Park. I do wish I had a camera to show you the many sites, alas my digital is still broken from fire deployment at the first of the year. I hope to soon mooch some pictures from the people I was working with and post them here so you too can feel a bit of awe. The moment after arriving at the housing of…

Reflection: Summer of Service

I suppose it's finally time for me to reflect back upon the amazing time I spent in my 3rd round project called Summer of Service. Just a reminder, SOS is an AmeriCorps NCCC sponsored 4 week service program for teens ages 14-17 from the New Orleans area. We spent a week in various activities and trainings, and the following 3 weeks performing good works with organizations throughout NOLA, and also plenty of time in fun activities and informative classes. My job was to mentor a large group of teens, ensure their time would be well-spent, and keep them engaged.

Reflecting back on this overwhelming experience is not easy. So much happened in such little time that it's hard to really summarize the HUGE event. 101 teens, 30 crew leaders, 2 group leaders, 2 unit leaders, and many staff people really made this experience what it was. Alright, so we had tons of people but we were broken down into 2 units (Blues and Jazz) plus smaller teams (each with 3 crew leaders) in which we functio…

Criminal Upset

Driving down the back road on my way home from the high school, I was eating an intoxicating cheeseburger. The brakes cut out in my car and I was dodging oncoming cars and swerving all over the road! When I came to the 4 way intersection at Riverside there was a stoplight, which I ran because I could not stop, and I shot quickly through the hole in traffic. As I traveled forward I checked back to see if Police were on my tail but soon became too drowsy to drive. I was drugged by the cheeseburger, and this was the reason for my concern about the police.

The dream changed and I was walking along the canal road trying to find work for my older brother who apparently was going back to school. I saw familiar trucks on the dirt bank and old farmers out in the field. I came upon a laboratory for agricultural research. Both Dusty John and Dane Hess were working there and I grabbed some welding gear and headed to my brother's house. When I arrived my sister-in-law was awkward, told me that …


Upon waking this morning I was mumbling the names Gerard Conway and Conway Twitty... something from a dream I had. Of course, I really had no clue who these two people were until I did a bit of Google work just now. Why am I dreaming about a comic book writer and a dead county musician, both people whose work I've never explored?

Jurassic Dreams

I was working in an elementary school. My position was one within a special ed classroom, and the students with whom I was working were kids from my class in Biloxi, MS.

Sirens, ground shaking, loud noises, and fear were all present. Suddenly I was the sole care-taker of a school full of children; all other adults had been killed by the enormous T-Rex. Luckily I was stationed on the 2nd floor (of 3 floors) with my students because of some confusion with the lunch schedule, and because of that I was still alive and the students around me had not yet been noticed by the carnivorous and hungry dinosaur. I knew that explaining to them what was happening would only cause an uproar, and existing chaos we had because of hand-washing before lunch had stirred up their energy. I calmly tried to quiet them-- I said it was a game, see who could tiptoe to the stairwell without saying a word, and the best people would get awards.

I grabbed some older students that were hiding in corners of the hallwa…


Laying in bed and curled up with my laptop one afternoon, surrounded by dim light and relative quiet, I broke down into silent, dry and empty tears. I felt the weight of each sob pounding my entire body into the cheap mattress of a used bed in a cold dormitory room. Nineteen arduous days into the program and overwhelmed was the easiest word I could grasp to explain my pitiful state.

So much happened in the 4 week program. In retrospect I am already forgetting how painful the challenges that I faced truly were. I've heard that one's own memory is a coping mechanism used to subconsciously dismantle thoughts of pain associated with the past. The mind is a powerful tool.
Summer of Service is over, I made it through.

And man, I love those guys (and gals!).