It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to help out with "Make a Difference Day" on October 22, 2011. Volunteering at the Food Banks of the Rockies was an experience for me. Even though I was taking pictures of the activity, I felt very involved. I was able to show others what it was like. To be directly involved by sorting food, cleaning the floors, and painting the area was awesome but many people in the community would not know what it was like without someone taking pictures. I was able to capture that activity by taking those pictures so in the future more could come and help.
AmeriCorps Member/Child Care Finder
The Firefighter's Combat Challenge was held the weekend of September 10t-11th as a way to not only commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, but to remember the heroes who gave their lives that day, and celebrate those who continue to serve our country. Firemen and women from across the country came together to perform relay events, showcasing their skills individually and as a team. ServeWyoming helped sponsor the event and managed a booth, encouraging others to sign up to be disaster relief volunteers. We are currently gathering a pool of volunteers who, in the event of a disaster emergency, would be called upon to give their time, skills, and energy. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet people in the community, support local firefighters, and have some fun! We were able to sign up eleven volunteers over the weekend and are always looking for more people willing to help!!
My name is Jenell Putnam and I am an AmeriCorps volunteer serving with the Business Leadership Network and its Director Cindy Keele. A year ago I spent the majority of my days staying at home isolated from the rest of the world, only dreaming of being able to get out into the community, being productive and making a difference. In the fall of last year, I eagerly participated in the Business Leadership Network's annual Festival of Trees. I was determined to enjoy the time given to get out of my home, be productive and help out for such a wonderful cause. However, it was always in the back of my mind that this volunteer opportunity was only temporary and soon, I would be back where I started: secluded, depressed and alone. In the meantime, I experienced such joy rising in the morning to "get ready for work", meeting new people but mostly feeling useful. I can recall a few times I had been at the armory for an entire day decorating and running errands, the signs of fatigue clearly showing, Cindy would have to "force" me to go home for the day.
It was near the end of the event I expressed my concerns of wanting more volunteer opportunities or some endeavor to keep me active and involved. That is when the opportunity for the AmeriCorps came about. It literally changed my life as now I'm doing activities such as interviewing local businesses in the community, planning and participating in the annual Central Wyoming College Employment Expo, attending the Conoco Phillips Awards Luncheon, Youth Mentoring Day and "Mock-Interviews" for MentorAbility and being part of a panel at the Governor's Summit on Workforce Solutions, discussing employers who hired an individual with a disability and the positive attributes of it. I helped organize a work shop called "Lunch and Learn" and I am currently helping to plan the Mayor's Leadership Awards and the upcoming 2011 Fremont County Festival of Trees.
Since joining the AmeriCorps and working with the Business Leadership Network, I no longer have the desire to return to those former days of isolation and feeling hopeless. I'm finding myself anxious to begin my day getting up and preparing to go to work, learning valuable skills, meeting friendly and supportive people, happily completing tasks Cindy assigns me, enjoying the camaraderie of my co-AmeriCorps volunteer and anxiously calling my parents at the end of the day to tell them the news of what exciting things I have done. I feel that every day is an "adventure" just waiting to happen. I see a bright and productive future, and for the first time I realize while I have a DisAbility, it DOES not have me.
As a result, in taking everything I've learned in accomplishing tasks, being productive and living out my dreams, I know that I did not do this alone. The love of my parents, the support of the AmeriCorps, Cindy Keele and the entire Business Leadership Network, I hope my story will reach out to others with or even without a DisAbility to inspire them. Just take the first step, join an organization like the AmeriCorps, it can open doors you never knew existed, just like it did for me. If ever there was a motto, to encourage those with a DisAbility to follow their dreams and achieve their goals, it would be:
"IT'S OUR TIME TO SHINE"
The city streets crew had been working for weeks to sandbag public structures and were happy to partner with Keep Casper Beautiful and the LDS Youth Camp to sandbag the Fort Caspar Museum caretakers home. The youth group was very enthusiastic and worked very hard filling and stacking the sandbags. In 3 hours they accomplished a task that would have taken the city at least two days to complete--and they smiled and laughed the entire time.
It was a win for both organizations. The youth group got to serve their community in an important way and the city was able to move onto other projects--and they both had fun. The volunteer spirit made a tough job fun and many hands made light work for all.
Stephanie Poppe, an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer for ServeWyoming, writes, "Serving in the community of Sheridan as a ServeWyoming VISTA Volunteer has been a wonderful experience. I have been able to meet and work with vital organizations that serve our community. As a result, I have seen first hand the connections we have been able to facilitate through our programming and collaboration with other agencies which have continued to successfully bridge the communication gap among nonprofits in Sheridan. During a recent event, I had the opportunity to connect the volunteer base at Fort Mackenzie High School with local flood relief agencies. Through this partnership, the flood relief agencies were able to increase the number of volunteers who were willing and able to give their time and generous donations of goods to flood victims." Great moments of community members coming together in service like the one described in Stephanie's story is one of many great stories happening throughout the Cowboy State. ServeWyoming continues to strive to promote the work ethic of volunteerism and service throughout the state with the help of it's staff, VISTA volunteers, and board members. For more information on how you can get involved in your community or how to find ways to partner with ServeWyoming please call 1-800-VOLUNTEER.