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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Tweet #allies2013!

I've assembled the finest group of current Allies to answer your questions....

For those of you who want to get real-time responses to questions about  the Ally experience, we’ve been asking you to tweet to #allies2013.   Now, we’ve got more eyes paying attention to that feed besides our Director of National Recruitment, we’ve added a roster of Allies who will also respond to that hashtag:

PA Connecticut
Isabelle M. Delgado*
@peaceabelle

PA Maryland
PA Central Florida
 
PA Chicago

Ceci Benitez @Soccergirl1023
Michael Matsey* @shadow_sphere
Kaleena Marquez*
@kaleenacoi

Feel free to tweet them individually, or at #allies2013 if you want to hear from them.  Even if your ideal site is not represented, they’d be happy to share their authentic insights on their experience so far.

Excerpt | Baltimorean of the Week

 
Our Google Alerts delivered a gift yesterday: a blog post naming one of our alumni an “Unsung Baltimorean of the Week.” It’s about Gary Williams, Public Allies Maryland ’10, who seems to make a big impression on the people around him. The blog’s author, Kevin Griffin Moreno, kindly agreed to let us excerpt his post.  Kevin’s blog, Unsung Baltimore, has a pretty cool mission. As Kevin puts it, “Baltimore is blessed with … residents of all races, ages, faith traditions, and economic backgrounds who commit themselves to piecing together the fragments and making our community whole. Though they don’t receive the attention, accolades, or acknowledgment they deserve, these neighbors are our region’s most vital asset.” A very Public Allies-friendly point of view! We encourage you to follow the link at the bottom to the full version of Gary’s story.
 

Gary Williams

Imagine this: you’re just out of your teens, one of only a handful of African-American students at Mercyhurst, a small liberal arts college in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, 350 miles from the west Baltimore neighborhood where you were born and raised.

You’ve just been made a residential adviser for one of the dorms on campus. One of the residents under your charge is a young white male named Andrew, whose grandfather was murdered by a black man, and who consequently makes no secret of his negative attitudes toward African-Americans…including you.

If you’re like most people, that would be an extremely uncomfortable, if not downright terrifying, situation to be in. But Gary Williams is not like most people. Instead of avoiding or antagonizing Andrew, Gary saw this encounter as an opportunity to confront the young man’s prejudices — and his own.

“At first I didn’t realize that he was watching me, my friends, my reactions,” Gary recalls. “I ended up changing his notions” about African-Americans. As a result, a connection was forged between the two; the more Andrew got to know Gary, the more his opinion shifted.

“Mercyhurst had a lot of kids from the suburbs and rural areas,” Gary continues. “There was this sense there that ‘real people don’t live in cities.’ I always had this view of college that you had to have a wide worldview, but a lot of students there didn’t. For many people at Mercyhurst, Erie (which has a population of about 130,000) was the biggest thing they’d ever heard of.”
 
In conversation, Gary projects self-confidence, cheerfulness, and warmth. He speaks animatedly and with passion, laughs a lot, and listens attentively. These qualities doubtless went a long way toward combating the ignorance and racial bias he encountered in college. But his willingness to engage with his rural white peers also forced him to examine his own beliefs.

“Mercyhurst was a crash course in conservative white America,” he chuckles. “I didn’t know a lot about small town life – I once asked a hunter friend if he bought his deer meat from the store — and it opened my eyes to my own prejudices about small town people.”

:: To read the the full post, click here.
:: You can find the Unsung Baltimore blog at http://unsungbaltimore.blogspot.com.  
 
 

Video | What are Allies getting done?

Earlier this year, 10 of the Public Allies communities took part in a “Fill-a-Flip Blitz.” Each used a company-issued Flip camera to videotape stories about what was going on around Ally Nation.

We’ve receieved Flip material from six of the 10 participating communities so far. It has been my job to log all the material and turn it into edited videos, and I gotta say it’s easy to feel like an underachiever as I listen to these interviews — with Allies, Alumni, staff, and the people who are working with Allies in their placements. There are so many passionate, capable people doing and supporting Public Allies work.

Anyhoo, some of the videos you have seen and will see on this blog come from the Fill-a-Flip project, and here’s one more. I spliced together snippets of interviews with 16 Allies as they described the work they are doing in their placements. The interviews come from Arizona, Chicago, Maryland, New York and North Carolina and were conducted in April. The Allies you’ll meet here are at or near the end of their placements now, and getting ready for Presentations of Learning (PublicAllySpeak for year-end reports) and graduation. Give ’em props for all they’ve accomplished! Their names, in order of appearance, with their Ally communities …

Ashley Brown, North Carolina; George Morse, North Carolina; Ben Garcia-Spitz, Chicago; Megan Anderson, Chicago (you may recall her from an earlier post); Ella Nguyen, North Carolina; Brandon Johnson, Arizona; Yasmeen Nanwalala, Chicago; Eduardo Cordon, Chicago; Tarnasia Lundy, New York; Kelsey Addy, Maryland; Robert Wheatfall, Chicago; Robbie Flick, Maryland (with his boss); Bola Odejayi, Maryland; Akil Meade, Maryland; Raquel Rodriguez, Maryland (with one of her mentees); and John “JD” VanSlyke, Chicago.

A success story that’s front-page news

A program in Baltimore supported by Public Allies Maryland was the subject of a front-page story recently in The Baltimore Sun. The headline: Nine years later, a school project that many thought was only a dream becomes a reality. It’s about a project called The Dream House, and it’s a truly impressive story about what can happen when a community is determined. Here’s an excerpt:

No one thought they’d ever really do it. Not even their teacher, who helped them draft the pledge. Yet the kids and their teacher from a rough part of town incorporated, raised more than a half-million dollars, fought government bureaucracy, changed a neighborhood’s mind about inner city kids and turned a derelict eyesore into something beautiful.

Since Allies so often work behind the scenes, this story didn’t pop up on our Google Reader, and it didn’t mention Christina Drushel, Maryland Ally ’10. But we found out about it from Program Manager Laura Bumiller, and then asked Christina to tell us about the part she played in helping these youth achieve their dream. Here’s what she wrote:

Christina Drushel

“Thanks to Public Allies, I had the amazing opportunity to be placed with The Youth Dreamers. It has been my role as the Community Outreach Coordinator to go into the community and get the residents aware of and involved with the Youth Dreamers and create new and exciting ways for the Youth Dreamers to connect and better serve their community.  In order to achieve these goals, we formed the Community Engagement Team, made up of four middle school Youth Dreamers and one high school Youth Dreamer, to brainstorm and implement events, such as Info Nights, Service Days and many pavement-pounding campaigns to get the word out about the Youth Dreamers, their events and community opportunities.

“It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the Youth Dreamers during this historic time in their long nine-year history.  The excitement surrounding this year is real. I can feel it every time I walk into the house or the classroom; I can see it every time there is a new furniture delivery or the students finish a project in the house; and I can hear it whenever the students laugh and cheer for their accomplishments.

“The opening of the Dream House is just the beginning of the Youth Dreamers’ mission of creating a safe and empowering place of youth.  It is a joyous feeling to know that I played a small role in making this Dream come true and it is a feeling that will bring me joy for years to come.  The Youth Dreamers have shown me that I should never be afraid to dream and I should always believe in the beauty of my dreams.”

Here’s a link to the full story. To find out more about Youth Dreamers, visit www.youthdreamers.org.

Staff Q&A | Meet the people who read your applications

Laura Bumiller

Who she is: Senior Program Manager, Public Allies Maryland

Originally from: Columbia, Md. Attended Villanova University in Philadelphia, has lived in downtown Baltimore City for five years “and I love it.”

Before Public Allies: “I did AmeriCorps VISTA for two terms, with LIFT (called National Student Partnerships at the time) in D.C. and in Baltimore. After that experience, I went to the University of Maryland for my Master’s degree in Social Work. I was working in the school’s outreach department doing Organizational Capacity Building for nonprofits when we decided to launch Public Allies Maryland.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the Allies: Maryland-style

The Maryland Allies put together a video about their experiences this year.  Hear about their experience in their own words.

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