My name is Paul Rouhas and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer serving with the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition. I arrived here from my hometown of Rockford, Illinois after serving my first VISTA year at YouthBuild Rockford. In September, I moved to Boston, made the transition from Green Project Coordinator at one YB program to a Resource Developer for the ten great programs that make up the MYBC.
As this is VISTA year 2.0 for me, that makes this AmeriCorps Week 2.0. As a Coalition, we began planning for this service week at the first director's meeting I attended and have been hammering away ever since. The statewide service model was the brainchild of Program Committee Chair Gloria Williams (YB New Bedford), but as we filled out the week's schedule, every program, director, and staff member in the MYBC soon had a role to play. In late April, we learned the Massachusetts Service Alliance had selected the MYBC to receive one of four AmeriCorps Week grants awarded statewide. After a few more eventful weeks of planning, we were finally ready to kick off "Serving Across the State" in Boston this morning.
Rriding the T over to the State House this morning, I thought about every step in my AmeriCorps journey thus far: from interviewing for my first VISTA position, to PSO (pre-service orientation), to meeting all the other YouthBuild VISTAs at IST (in-service training) in Las Vegas each of the past two Decembers, to meeting group after group of new YouthBuild students. Truthfully, it is still hard for me to believe all the people I've met and experiences I've had while serving with AmeriCorps. And that is only my story: 9 of ten programs within the Coalition receive AmeriCorps funding through the Mass Service Alliance or YouthBuild USA National-Direct funding. AmeriCorps Week is about impacting our communities through service while at the same time celebrating stories like mine and those of the nearly 300 AmeriCorps enrolled YouthBuild students within the Coalition.
We could not have asked for a more perfect day to kick off "Serving Across the State". The sun was shining, our "Serving Across the State" t-shirts looked fantastic, and Governor Patrick came down to greet YouthBuilders from all ten of our programs around 10am. Both ABC 7 (WHDH) and Metro stopped by to film our students at work and take some photos. While this is the third year Coalition YouthBuild students have done landscaping work at the State House (and we're always happy to help), this marks the first year it was part of AmeriCorps Week. Special thanks to all our student volunteers, the State House staff for providing everything we needed (box lunches, water, tools, and plants), and Peter Hinrichs of YouthBuild Boston for coordinating day one.
Day One, Boston: 37 Volunteers (25 Full Time Members, 1 VISTA, 3 Alums) served 166.5 hours total
Tomorrow's Event: Carpentry Challenge, Lawrence
Weather.com Forecast: Partly cloudy early followed by mostly cloudy skies and a few showers later in the day. High 62F. Winds NNE at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 30%
Photos coming soon.
-Paul, your VISTA blogger