10 Months…


Just put together our congratulations video for over 500 Allies that are completing their Apprenticeship. For those who are curious about what happens during a term, these 45 seconds do a pretty good job of capturing it.  Congrats again to our Class of 2012, our newest batch of Alumni!

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Stories from our Everyone Leads book tour – Miami

Public Allies Miami alumna, Lori Deus, shared her Ally story at our Everyone Leads book signing in Miami, FL.  She grew up in rural Appalachia, but was doing her service in the Afro-Carribbean West Grove neighborhood in Miami.  She reflects on how she learned about community building during that year — on her Team Service Project team, as well as the West Grove neighborhood.

 

 

How my Mother and AmeriCorps made me a Better Man

Thanks to Kayla McKinney over at the ASU Lodestar Center blog for getting us hip to Michael Soto’s post on his AmeriCorps service, and its connection to his own family history.  Michael Soto just completed his second year Fellowship at Public Allies Arizona, where he served with the Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

 

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to serve my country. My mother served her country by joining the Army at the age of 18. She served at Carlisle Barracks and the Pentagon in the Women’s Army Corps during the Vietnam War. As a child I remember sneaking into her bureau to pin her Army medals on my chest and parade around like a soldier.

Her service didn’t end with the Army. She was an example for me throughout my childhood, bringing me along as she volunteered at soup kitchens, with the LDS cannery, and in the Scouts. My desire to emulate my mother through service to my country only increased as I grew older.

Michael Soto, Public Allies Arizona 2009-2011.

When I was a junior in high school, I received a recruitment call from the US Military Academy at West Point. My mother tried to hide her excitement as she handed me the phone, but her eyes lit up. What mother wouldn’t proud for their child to attend West Point?

I wasn’t able to attend West Point, nor serve in the military. I am a transgender man, and for years I thought my gender identity meant I could not serve my country. Then, one lucky day, a friend told me about Public Allies, and I realized that I could serve my country — through AmeriCorps.

Today, I am about two-thirds of the way through my second term of national service in Public Allies Arizona and AmeriCorps. I’ve given approximately 2,900 hours of work for America since 2009. I can’t tell you what an honor it has been to serve my country. Public Allies and AmeriCorps have made it possible for me to accomplish my dream and serve the United States of America.

A few months ago, I was shopping at the local grocery market, wearing my AmeriCorps sweatshirt. I was lost in my shopping list, trying to find the steak sauce, butter lettuce and instant mashed potatoes. An older man walked up to me, squared his solders to mine, extended his hand and said, “Young man, thank you for your service.” I looked at him, like a deer in headlights, so he clarified: “My son served in AmeriCorps and I think our country needs more young people who believe in and work for America.” I agreed with him and thanked him, with a hoarse voice, a handshake and a nod.

I give my mother all the credit. She taught me, by example, the most important values in my life: service to my country, service to my community, and service to those in need. And I thank Americorps for being the answer to my lifelong wish of serving my country. I hope to teach my own children, someday, all that I’ve learned about service and citizenship.

Snapshot: Reconnecting with an old friend at Kaboom’s 2000th Playground Build

Just like old times: Paul and Michelle working together at Kaboom's 2000th Playground Build. Credit: Associated Press/Manuel Balce Caneta

Kaboom is one of our Partner Organizations at Public Allies Washington DC.  Their mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, we envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.  Yesterday, they just performed their 2,000th build at Washington D.C.’s Imagine Southeast Public Charter School.  Our CEO, Paul Schmitz, was on hand to lend a hand to the proceedings, as well as to catch up with one of our colleagues, Michelle Obama.

Application countdown Q&A | Vicente Escobedo

Vicente Escobedo, San Antonio 2008

As we count down to the final application deadline for the next Public Allies class, we invite you to listen to snippets from conversations we’ve had with our Alumni. It’ll give you a glimpse into the Public Allies experience and the impact it has on a person’s life and career. Today, please meet Vicente Escobedo, a San Antonio 2008 alumnus. Vicente has been supporting single dads since he became a dad himself in high school, and today he continues that work as an outreach coordinator for the San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign.

Public Allies: How did you learn about the Public Allies program?

Vicente Escobedo: I was working with the Fatherhood Campaign, and the Read the rest of this entry »

Application Countdown Q&A | Josh Whitehead

As we count down to the final application deadline for the next Public Allies class, we invite you to listen to snippets from conversations we’ve had with our Alumni. As you do, you’ll get a glimpse into the Public Allies experience and the impact it has on a person’s life and career. Today, please meet Josh Whitehead, a Cincinnati 2001 alumnus. Josh grew up in Memphis and learned about Public Allies when he was a grad student studying community planning at the University of Cincinnati. Now he has a law degree and he’s back in Memphis, where he’s the Memphis and Shelby County Planning Director.

Public Allies: When you were an Ally, you were placed at an organization Read the rest of this entry »

Video | Giving back to his community

Nigel Okunubi grew up in affordable housing in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. At his housing project, there was a youth center that was responsible for a lot of Nigel’s important milestones as a kid. So when he found out that it was closing, he decided to do something.

Nigel spearheaded an effort to create a new youth organization to fill the gap that was left by the closing. As founder and executive director of the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, he’s in a leadership role in his old neighborhood, and helping kids he can relate to.

This video was created in support of Public Allies’ year-end fund-raising campaign. We thought the folks who follow this blog would like to see it, too.

:: To learn more about the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, click here.
:: To learn more about our year-end fundraising campaign, click here.

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