Posted By admin on September 26, 2011
The end of summer marked the end of the AmeriCorps VISTA Tribal Summer Associates program for 2011. The NSAIE had an enormous participation rate that has surpassed previous years. In addition, we partnered with Boys & Girls Club and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to provide more sites with Summer Associates. These sites then took part in the Let’s Move in Indian Country initiative, striving to help kids be more active and healthy.
This year, the volunteers spent 8 weeks in tribal communities across America, performing direct-service projects in three areas: Service Programs, Traditional Programs, and Development Support Programs. The projects have included everything from elder chores and yard work to hosting cultural craft days and office automation. The hands-on work has been both difficult and rewarding, offering participants the chance to make a difference in their local area.
The following are highlights from the 2011 Tribal Summer Associate program:
Pueblo of Acoma spent eight weeks creating a walking path to the Elderly Center. Adobe bricks made by traditional methods paved the path which is lined with canopies overhead. It is wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass and gives the elders a shaded space to exercise. The bricks were made from a mixture of sand, clay, water and straw, using a time tested ratio – 20 shovels of sand to every 10 shovels of clay.
Blackfeet Nation beautified their community through cleanups and elder chores. They cleared debris from the fairgrounds for the annual North American Indian Days in which over 4000 visitors celebrated, danced, shopped, played games and enjoyed entertainment. They also mowed lawns, weed whacked, painted houses and fences, and chopped fire wood. They revived gardens by weeding and Rototilling the land in preparation for planting, as well as participated in Blackfeet Manpower’s Youth Day by playing games with the kids.
Choctaw Nation cleaned and helped elders both outside and inside, cleared trash and large debris from community land, assisted with lawn care and gardening, helped to prime and paint a home in need of restoration, helped prepare and serve senior luncheons as well as clean up before hosting senior BINGO games. They participated in the Let’s Move campaign and worked to add more active projects to their summer. One Associate noticed, saying, “I think we are losing calories the way we’re sweating, but it’s a very good thing.”
Guam Associates worked with Pa`a Taotao Tano` to aid cultural and service programs. The Associates helped host and coordinate dance festivals, like Dinana Minagof (a Chomorro Dance Competition), that share Native traditions with the community. Participation included assisting dance instructors, rounding up teams, manning information booths, handing out refreshments, and performing dances. In addition, Associates gardened, weeded, planted, harvested, painted, and cleaned.
Oglala Sioux Nation aided their community by participating in a cleanup that cleared trash and debris in elders’ yards as well as mowing and weed whacking. They also helped to prepare for, set up, and participate in the Kicking Bear Wachipi Pow-wow.
Older Persons Action Group in Alaska planned, developed and raised funds for a Multicultural Folk Festival. They participated in staff meetings to brainstorm and facilitate logistics, then created a list with information on past and potential donors to identify and recruit sponsorship. Car washes and bake sales raised over $1100. Office work included: filing reports, printing and distributing flyers, mailing brochures, and answering telephones; as well as aiding elders in the community with computer technology and attending networking events.
Penobscot Nation participated in a community chore service, a food pantry and an elder garden. Associates helped with lawn mowing, weeding, clearing debris, maintenance, window washing, vacuuming, as well as helping with Community Days. In the Food Pantry, they kept track of transactions and donations and helped to keep the pantry stocked. Garden tasks included planting, weeding, and watering on a regular basis in preparation for harvesting vegetables.
Sault Ste. Marie hosted an event involving a life-size colon to showed the degenerative effects of poor health, diabetes, and cancer. Participating helps community members to understand health and to make lifestyle changes. Associates aided offices, gardened, and even rejuvenated their museum’s visitor information brochure and children’s activities. These tools allow adults to interact with museum exhibits and kids to play educational games.
Standing Rock learned valuable lessons from the elders in their community. One such lesson was how to identify, harvest and use timpsula, a prarie turnip that has slowly become harder to find. Other activities for the Associates were community cleanups, Meals on Wheels preparation and delivery, lawn care and elder chore service, hosting and participating in a Family Fun Day, and gardening.
Tohono O`odham worked with 11 congregate meal sites in the Nation’s 11 districts which are a place for elders to eat a full meal and escape the heat of southern Arizona. They helped prepare and deliver meals, clean afterwards, and play games like BINGO to engage elders. They hosted an elder arts and crafts and helped with elder chore services, such as grocery shopping, yard work and cleaning. Associates participated in training seminars aimed at career development.
United Keetoowah participated in several elder service activities including chores, nursing home visits, game days, craft days, and meal delivery. Associates beautified the Keetoowah Celebration Grounds for powwows and celebrations; cleared debris, mowed, and landscaped; and planted, weeded, watered and harvested community gardens. They fundraised for youth scholarships, served food at different community events, and went hunting for Crawdads – a traditional (and delicious) food source.
Winnebago cleared debris and renovated common areas as part of a Storm Cleanup. They cleaned and repaired both the inside and outside of storage trailers, creating a workspace for future elder services. They sent elder surveys to discover what activities are of interest to elders in the community. They hosted a bake sale and manned booths at a powwow, hosted elder craft days and taught elders their Native Language, prepared and served meals on wheels, and attended career development training.
White Mountain Apache Tribe participated in health programs, fairs, and youth camps, conducted research, prepared posters, gave presentations, and aided the prevention of several initiatives ranging from: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Fit Testing, Healthy Heart, Diabetes, AmeriCorps Programming, Public Health Nursing, and Healthy Living. Activities included placing flea collars on reservation dogs, hosting booths to hand out information, gardening, playing games with youth, cleaning community common areas, grocery shopping and hosting a book club.
Next year, the NSAIE hopes to see participant numbers and projects grow so that each team of 5 Tribal Summer Associates will be able to accomplish even more in their short period of service. For their efforts, Summer Associates are given a stipend during their weeks of service as well as an end of service award. If you are interested in becoming a Tribal Summer Associate for the 2012 year, please visit www.AmeriCorps.gov for more information. Associates must be between the ages of 18 and 24 during their term of service.