Spring Update from R2LP

There is so much going on at Ready to Learn Providence this spring! It is hard to believe that the end of the year is approaching so quickly…we still have so much on our plates!

R2LP is broken down into 5 teams (Library, Health, Childcare, Professional Development, and Central Falls School District), so I’m going to give you an update from each of the teams…starting with my team, the library team!

The library team has been busy initiating a project called “Ready for K!” at some of the branch libraries, including Olneyville, Washington Park, Mount Pleasant and Knight Memorial. It has been a great way members to take on new and exciting roles at their sites. Additionally, there are upcoming events such as an Early Childhood Educators’ Conference and Family Childcare Provider Day at the Providence Public Library.

The health team is taking a 10-week series called Community Health Workers, which is enabling them to engage in their work in more meaningful and thoughtful ways. It also provides important professional development for those hoping to enter the health field after their term of service.

The childcare team is busy on all fronts and is having Family Engagement Nights and “I am Moving, I am Learning” presentations at several sites, including the Heritage Park YMCA. They have also been assisting with Ready to Learn’s course “Mind in the Making.”

The professional development team has been assisting with the recent partnership between Ready to Learn and the Center for Early Learning Professionals. The members of the PD team have been assisting with class registrations and publicity for this new center.

The Central Falls School District team has been hosting a series of Parent Workshops on subjects ranging from teaching science to your children to choosing appropriate books.

Finally, our whole team is looking forward to attending the Roger Williams Park Clean-Up this Saturday, April 26th!

R2LP would like to thank many members from other corps for their help with childcare during our “Mind in the Making” course, being offered at Ready to Learn. This cross-corps collaboration has allowed students with children to attend class by providing childcare during these critical times. However, we still need support for the remaining classes. If anyone is looking for additional hours, R2LP could use assistance with childcare on Monday and Thursdays from 5:15-8:15 pm and Saturdays from 8:30-11:45 am. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kristin Read at kread@provplan.org or at (401)490-9960.

Last, bust definitely not least, we want to say congratulations to our PD team member Evelyn Leonardo! She is expecting her second daughter and had her baby shower Monday! We will definitely miss her, but can’t wait to meet this future AmeriCorps!Image

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Cultivating the Garden and Life I Desire

ImageI have recently moved into a new house in Cumberland.  This house has a big backyard and I have dreamed about having a garden for a year! I have imagined an ideal garden with a bountiful harvest of vegetables all summer long, growing perfectly and in harmony.

Reality Check! Gardens take a lot of planning, research, time and deliberation and throw you a lot of curve-balls (birds, pests, drought, wind).  A garden does not get planted and start growing overnight.  I have poured over books, websites, planting charts, companion planting tables and graphs to find the perfect balance of vegetables that grow well together with the knowledge that the wrong pH balance in the soil or a pest could ruin my whole garden. This process is much like the way that life flows.

When I began my foray into the working world as a VISTA I had many preconceived ideas about the trajectory of my career and my life.  I went to college, studied what interested me, and could picture myself in my future job spreading peace and love on earth. Then….reality hit me…good things, good jobs, good connections don’t just come to people with a pure heart and good intentions.

Living the life and growing the garden you want requires planning, effort, learning from others, connecting with people and organizations and the will to make it work!  It requires being able to get back up after being disappointed, it sometimes requires that you give up making money to make a difference, but it never requires you to lose who you are and give up on your dreams.  Like in my garden, I will work to cultivate the right atmosphere, roots, and medium to grow a people and a world committed to peace and justice.

Upcoming Gardening/Gardener/Farmer Events and Workshops in RI!

  • Apr 16, 2:00pm, “Flowering Shrubs, The New Glamour Plants”, URI Bay Campus, Coastal Institute Auditorium: 215 S.Ferry Rd, Narragansett. Book signing & refreshments follows the presentation. Reserved seating required. For reservations contact ngwilson44@aol.com or call 401-783-8365
  • April 16, 6:00-7:00, Compost Workshop, Campbell Auditorium, Pawtucket Public Library, 13 Summer Street, Pawtucket.
  • April 17, 5:00-8:00, Providence green drinks @ PVD Flatbread Company, 161 Cushing St, Providence. Providence Green Drinks (always held on the third Thursday of the month) provides a great opportunity to meet with people in the area who are personally and/or professionally interested and involved in a variety of environmental, conservation, and sustainability issues.
  • April 17, 6:00-9:00, FREE Plantiful – Author talk and propagation demo and Seed Swap, Rochambeau Library, Community Room, 708 Hope Street Providence.
  • April 19, 10:00am, “Sanfoka Community Farm Ribbon Cutting and Beginning Organic Grower’s class by SCLT”, 135 Parade St, Providence. Hosted by the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation.
  • April 21 and April 22, 1:00-2:00, “Compost Workshop”, Campbell Auditorium, Pawtucket Public Library, 13 Summer Street, Pawtucket
  • April 22, 7:00 pm, “Harvesting Rhode Island Panel Discussion”,  The Aldrich House, 110 Benevolent Street, Providence.
    There will be a question and answer session after the speakers. http://www.rihs.org/events/event/harvesting-rhode-island/
  • Apr 23, 6:30pm- Small Vegetable Gardens Workshop, Instructor: Lynne Farr and Sharon Clingham at the Lincoln Library, 145 Old River Road, Lincoln, RI. Admission is FREE, call 333-2422 to register.
  • April 24, 5:30-7:00 p.m; rain date: May 1, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Smart fruit tree management & pruning to prevent disease by Sandie Barden, Barden Family Orchard, 56 Elmdale Rd, North Scituate, RI.
  • April 24, 6:00-7:00, “Compost Workshop”, Campbell Auditorium, Pawtucket Public Library, 13 Summer Street Pawtucket.
  • April 24, 6:30 pm, Seed Saving 101, Lincoln Public Library, 145 Old River Road, Lincoln, RI.  Please call 333-2422 for more information and to register for this informative event. Space is limited.
  • Friday, April 25 | 4:00PM – 6:00PM, Screening “Growing Cities”, Brown University: 89 Waterman Street, Providence, RI.
    This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  www.growingcitiesmovie.com.
  • April 26, 10-12:00pm, High Tunnel Workshop, Stone Croppe Farm, 333 East Road, Tiverton, RI 02878. Call (401) 816-5667 to register for this free workshop.
  • April 26,12-4:00 pm, “Soil Testing by the URI Master Gardeners”, Wildwood Nursery, 659 Frenchtown Rd., East Greenwich, RI * How to collect a soil sample: http://www.urimastergardeners.org/soil-testing
  • April 27, 11:00-2:00, “Fairy Garden Festival and Soil Testing”, Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence. Cost: $3. How to collect a soil sample: http://www.urimastergardeners.org/soil-testing
  • May 1, 11:30-5:00pm, “Rhode Island Agriculture Day at RI State House”, State House, Smith Street, Providence, RI. Annual event showcasing Rhode Island’s agriculture industry with over 50 exhibitors with a large variety of locally grown foods available for sampling and speaking program at 2:00 PM in the Governor’s State Room.

Ongoing Resources/Events:

  • Seed Library @ Washington Park, 1316 Broad St, Providence.  Library patrons can select up to five packages of seeds from hundreds of packages of flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Seeds available whenever the library is open!Dylan Little (401) 781-3136
  • URI Garden Hotline, M-Th, 9:30am -1:30pm, April through September, 1-800-448-1011, gardener@etal.uri.edu

Non-Profit Organizations and Groups that help the fledgling gardener:
Audobon Society of RIEco ri newsGroundwork ProvidenceNortheast Organic Farming Association of RIPlant ProvidenceRoger Williams Park Botanical CenterSouthside Community Land TrustUrban Greens Co-opURI Master Gardeners,  URI Outreach Center, What Grows on in RI, Your Local Public Library

Emily McKenna, VISTA Leader, AS220

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Tune In/Don’t Tune Out Movie Series @ The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence

Per popular request, we will be initiating our social justice movie night titled; Tune In/Don’t Tune Out.  Starting this coming April (Start date TBA).   Tune In/Don’t Tune Out Movie series is open to the rest of ISPN staff, other AMC programs and the greater beloved community.  The purpose of this project is to activate conversation and thought through visual imagery and conversation
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Scrabble Night at the ISPN

Please be sure to join us next Thursday April 14,2014 and every Thursday through May 29, 2014 at The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence 265 Oxford St. Providence RI 02905 for Scrabble Night.
We would like to introduce the youth and young adults of the community to the game of Scrabble.
This program is designed to provide inner city youth and young adults with an opportunity to put down their technology and begin learning, spelling, and defining words they probably otherwise would not have attempted to use. The youth and young adults will be able to have fun with friendly competition while learning.
Ages 12- adult 
Boards are limited (cap.34 participants)
Volunteers Are Needed
Any questions please contact me:
401-785-2320 ext.115 

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VISTA Opportunity! School-Based Volunteer Program Coordinator

Attention all AmeriCorps members! Interested in serving another year in AmeriCorps? Know someone who is? SRI is hiring TWO AmeriCorps VISTA School-Based Volunteer Program Coordinators, both positions starting this summer! Below see one of the service descriptions (my current position!); the other position is nearly identical, except serving at Slater Middle School in Pawtucket. If you’re interested in learning more about either of the positions, let me (Magali) know, and I’ll be glad to meet and talk about my job!

Position Title: School-Based Volunteer Program Coordinator VISTA
Site Name: Roger Williams Middle School, Providence, RI
Reports To: Director of Operations

Position Summary:  The School-Based Volunteer Program Coordinator VISTA will be responsible for the development and implementation of a community and parent volunteer engagement program at Roger Williams Middle School, an urban RI middle school undergoing a transformation process.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with SRI staff to develop and implement a volunteer program that will utilize parents, community members, and corporate volunteers, in ongoing and episodic opportunities, to support the educational process.
  • Develop program policies and procedures manual working with SRI staff and school personnel that will be provided to all new volunteers.  Topics covered include: volunteer applications and screening, sign in procedures, badging, documentation of hours, scheduling, supervision, and program evaluation.
  • Create initial orientation and training as well as ongoing opportunities for continuing education and volunteer professional development.
  • Identify needs for volunteers within the school and create volunteer opportunity descriptions for each position.
  • Recruit, screen, match and place volunteers into opportunities at the school, working to target outreach to bring in the skills, talents and expertise to maximally support students in need at the school.
  • Increase parent engagement within the middle school by promoting opportunities to volunteer in the school including direct service opportunities (i.e. working directly with students and with teachers supporting students) and indirect service opportunities (i.e. administrative, greeters, hallway monitors).
  • Outreach to engage corporate volunteers willing to volunteer in the schools and/or participate in school transformation projects aimed at improving the physical learning environment.
  • Design and conduct a program evaluation that includes both volunteers (ongoing and episodic) and school staff (i.e. teachers, administration, staff).  Utilizing this evaluation data, draft and present an end of the year evaluation of the program, including offering suggestions for improving the program during its third year of operation.
  • Provide administrative and logistical support for SRI events
  • Assist with the mobilization and coordination of volunteers in times of disaster

Skills, Knowledge & Abilities:

  • Excellent oral and written communications and organizational skills
  • Proficiency using Microsoft Office products (MS Word, MS Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.)
  • Use of a personal vehicle required
  • Bilingual Spanish a plus

Training and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s of Arts/Science Degree preferred
  • Experience in coordinating volunteers, program development or volunteering a plus

Terms and Conditions: AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program under the Corporation for National and Community Service designed specifically to fight poverty. The VISTA member commits to serve full-time for one full year at a nonprofit organization and receives an $11,676 stipend over that year. The VISTA is not eligible to hold down other employment during this national service year.  Upon successful completion of the term of service, the VISTA is eligible to receive either an AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,550 or cash award $1,500.

How To Apply:
Interested candidates can apply through the AmeriCorps website at: www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

Choose Advanced Search, Program Type select: AmeriCorps*VISTA, State select: Rhode Island.


The listing can be found at: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=43925&fromSearch=true

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Just keep swimming!

During the last ten months of my AmeriCorps term, I’ve certainly grown and learned a lot. From learning hard skills such as becoming more familiar with Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop, to soft skills such as how to manage a volunteer program, and even some unexpected skills, such as proper wall painting techniques, the learning and growth is truly endless! More than anything though, I’ve learned to embrace the unexpected: plans can, and will, change, and it’s important to remain flexible and ready to adapt to changes.

While I’ve always considered myself a fairly “go with the flow” kind of person, this year my flexibility has been tested in ways I would’ve never imagined. It’s one thing to be mentally prepared for changes during service projects, but it’s an entirely different game when talking about embracing the unexpected with actual people. Managing (and adjusting) the expectations I’ve had for individuals, be it my volunteers or students I work with, has definitely been an unexpected lesson I’ve learned this year.

I think I’ve always known that working with volunteers would involve many challenges, so that in itself was no surprise. My volunteer pool at Roger Williams is more diverse than I could have ever expected—about one third of my volunteers are college students (every college in the city is represented!), another third are 55+ Babyboomers, and still another third include everyone from a high school senior, to a stay-at-home mom, to a teacher in the suburbs whose heart lies in Providence. Their experiences are just as varied, which makes them both a joy and a challenge to work with. I’ve had to learn to accept that some volunteers (regardless of their age), will be active members of the SRI volunteer community, frequently keeping in touch with me and always looking for additional ways to be involved. Others though are less easy to keep in touch with; but they continue to volunteer week after week, so I’ve come to terms with the reality that some volunteers are more independent than others. And that’s okay–they’re doing great work regardless!

While working with volunteers has indeed brought challenges, I’ve definitely had many more ups and downs working with students this year. By far the most frustrating (yet energizing) part of my year has been straddling this line between desperately wanting to advocate for the kids at the school, but then getting so frustrated with some of their absurd behavior that it takes a lot to not sass them right back or break down and cry. I find myself defending them to “outsiders”. But more than once I’ve broken down crying with my mom, so frustrated that some of these kids can be exceedingly rude, yet even more frustrated that we live in a society that has let these kids down for generations–so, of course they’re going to fight back! This has certainly been the hardest and most unexpected aspect of my work that I’ve had to adapt to—and I’m certainly still working on it.

I’d be lying if I said this was an easy thing for me to learn—or that I’ll ever be an “expert” at being flexible (Is that even a thing? Sounds like an oxymoron to me). As much as this is a skill, it’s also an attitude, and both are tough things to learn. I’ve learned that being flexible, adaptable, and willing to embrace the unexpected comes in very different shapes and forms.  Some things, such as adjusting to the differences among my volunteers, is easier to adjust to than other parts (those students are both inspiration and heart breakers at the same time!).  It has taken a year full of different kinds of relationships for me to learn that this will always be a challenge, but that that’s okay! As long as I just keep swimming, I’ll be able to keep learning from the unexpected, growing stronger each and every day.


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RICC VISTA Leader Positions Available

Want to deepen your VISTA experience and explore a career in higher education? Apply your skills and gain valuable experience in leadership development, program coordination, and more.

 Share your knowledge and expertise with new VISTA members as the VISTA Leader for Rhode Island Campus Compact!

The primary goal of the RICC*VISTA Leader will be to build the capacity of the RICC AmeriCorps*VISTA program. This includes being responsible for communication, training, event planning, member support and problem-solving, reporting, resource development, recruitment, evaluation, and other duties to enhance the impact of the RICC*VISTA program and the experience of its VISTA members.

A secondary goal of the RICC*VISTA Leader will be to further the mission of Campus Compact. This includes supporting organization projects and initiatives such as RICC Strategic Planning, Partnerships for Success, the Rhode Island College Access Network, RI Student Service Summit, Faculty Fellows, and others through research, communication, event planning, and resource development.

The final goal of the RICC*VISTA Leader will be to support and build the national service network in RI. This includes participation in statewide VISTA collaboration and events, support for projects such as RICC’s AmeriCorps Scholarships for Service, Justice Talks, and national days of service, and representing RI Campus Compact’s national service programs on the Inter-Corps Council.

Applications will be available May 5 at  www.ricompact.org/americorpsvista
The application deadline is July 28
Join us for an informational session  Wednesday, April 9, 12:00 – 1:00 pm or Friday, April 18, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm 
To register for session, click here

Questions?? Contact Brandi Jackson at bjackson@ricompact.org
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