Apartment Living….

Its nice to feel like I have my own place again. Brittany’s apartment has a washer and dryer in it, that is not being used by 7 other people and is within an arms reach from my own closet. Ahhhh simple pleasures. Last night when I got out of work I was able to stop by the grocery store, pick up some fresh veggies, make myself a stirfry, and sit in the quiet apartment sipping wine and working on editing pictures. It was a beautiful thing. Of course I miss home and all things comfortable and familiar, but I am loving this opportunity and all the new experiences that it brings with it.

The apartment complex also has two swimming pools, a hot tub that is open all year, free starbucks coffee in the office and is pet friendly. More importantly, the apartment itself has a giagntic bath tub! Oh how I have missed having a bath tub!

I am really enjoying this adventure so far.

 
Here’s a glimpse of the complex I am living in…

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Double Duty!

So part of my work at College Summit is acting as their resident photog and documenting our events and stuff. This is really cool for me as a photographer because I can get my hands on some really neat photo and video editing software. This morning I got some quick training on some video editing stuff that will be really cool to take back to my “other life” as a wedding photographer and put together some video clips for my clients.

This week I am working on putting together a bunch of College Summit clips from the year, summer session and our current kids to show to some big-wig investors who are interested in what we do here at College Summit. Hopefully I figure out what Im doing enough to make a semi powerful presentation for them.

Aside from being able to use these new skills in my “other life” and take them back to NY with me someday, I am really excited to be working in the non-profit sector and with some other social service groups because I’m not entirely positive that I will ever be able to find another teaching job. This is teaching me all kinds of new skills and opening up lots of other options of ways to help kids.

Thank you Google 🙂

Although, today I spent alot of time on Google Maps plotting out the distances between my job sites and calculating minutes and miles so that I can be reimbursed later by AmeriCorps…. wow, I’m going to be doing a ton of driving.  Here’s the chart I spent way too long researching and creating this morning so that I can properly calculate my miles.

Making connections.

We had a group of 30 kids sit down over pizza today with a man who has been a college professor for 50 years. He was  a close personal friend of Martin Luther King Jr when he was a young man, closely studied the teachings of Ghandi and actually had several conversations with him, and also worked with Cesar Chavez for a time. his life experiences were phenomonal and the kids really took a liking to this grandfatherly looking gentleman who had a keen sense of humor and sarcasm. it was really funny to watch him put some of our kids in their place! He talked to them about chasing your dreams, about college and creating a college culture in their schools. he connected their feelings of self-doubt to their cultures and their race, explaining why they should never use that as an excuse to skip out on success. I was really impressed by his life experiences and probably was more excited about meeting this guy than the kiddos were. What a great day!

Weekly recap: Week 1

I walked into the College Summit office to find this on the door to my office space on Friday morning. This is a great way to start the day. Image

I can’t wait to see what interesting things this opportunity is going to bring my way. Check out my office space. There’s the window where I can see the Denver skyline, and my very own, big girl desk. Image

I had a few projects already this week to accomplish. I had to create and implement a presentation about how education can help you to follow your dreams, even when they seem unreachable. Also, I spent time with a bunch of schools this week talking to kids, meeting the principals and hanging out with the College Summit staff who are in the process of showing me all the best places to eat in Denver. Image

Here’s some of my kiddos presenting their “I am” poems…. so powerful. Image

Ryan’s went something like this: “I am from theives and broken dreams, I am from bad role models and detention centers. I am from spicy fried chicken wings and loud music. I am a regular kid. I am from CHSC. I am from GEDs and drop outs. I am from mothers who get high and fathers who don’t stay. I am from hope. I am from….” This kid has been in lots of trouble in the last few years, has very little family support, and recently decided that he wants to change his life around. He will be attending the State College in the fall. 🙂

 

This week I am feeling hopeful, anxious for more responsibility within the organization, stressed about leaving home, and excited to get settled and have a normal routine. 

Team Service Day!

 
Today our whole Denver CBPYT team went out to Northfield Pond Park to rebuild some trails and clear some of the vegetation away from the water drainage ponds. It was a fabulously beautiful sunny day and we worked efficiently with Denver Parks and Recreation (thanks guys for your tools and all your help!)

Our Team

I officially have my very first AmeriCorps blisters…. on every surface of my hands.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

Alright friends and family, I have made some pretty serious decisions this past month and I figured I should let ya’ll in on the secrets.

I have decided to take an Americorps position that is based in Colorado.

My job title will be Americorps Member working with a company called College Summit.

As an Americorp member I am completing a program called: Community Building Partnership for Youth in Transition. Essentially this is defined as:  Community Building Partnership for Youth in Transition is a solution. Their  approach mixes youth empowerment, agency expertise, and services in a way that helps local communities impact youth in a successful, positive, and appropriate way.  CBPYT operates as an AmeriCorps program housed at Denver Human Services. Through this program, AmeriCorps members mentor other youth who are currently transitioning out of foster care, homelessness, and other systems of care. Our mentors work out of community agencies across the Front Range, where they serve for about 38 hours weekly. After they complete 1,725 hours of service, they are rewarded with $5,550 to further their education.

I also receive health insurance, a small living stipend, support, counseling and training in addition to the educational award. They are also going to reimburse me for any driving I do within Denver at a rate of $0.555 per mile.

I really love the people I have met so far in the AmeriCorps program and I am looking forward to being a part of this nationally connected web of fabulous people. I have met many alumni this week who have told me how awesome their experiences were and how many of them have found full time employment afterward simply because their potential employers were also AmeriCorp alums.

As a member of the College Summit team I will be focusing on the purpose of CBPYT while functioning within the support of the College Summit Program. College Summit is a program that is designed to increase the number of students applying to, attending, and staying in college from low-income communities. College Summit has grown to serve 50,000 students annually in 170 high schools in 12 states by partnering with high school principals, teachers and the most influential students in lower-income communities to raise their college-going and success rates. I will be working within several Denver area school districts for the first few months mentoring students and teaching teachers the college summit program. The skills Im learning here are transferrable to many other nonprofit agencies and opens up a new world of opportunity for me.

Also, I will have a corner office with a view of the Denver skyline. Does it get better than that?

Overall my job within the program is to help students figure out how to cross the bridge into adulthood by showing them the resources in their communities that will help them get there. Im to help them to complete resumes and find jobs, support their academic successes, foster their personal growth and empower them to realize their dreams. I am excited for the opportunity to work with kids not just in a classroom setting, and that I still get to help teens despite the fact that I have not found a teaching job.  I am really passionate about teenagers and the amazing people that they can become if anyone would take the time to give them a chance. This is something that is important to me, crucial to my overall sanity as a person, and what I have been trained to do. Although I am not teaching I am still using my degree and training to make a difference in the lives of children. I feel fulfilled and happiest when I am doing these things.

That all being said. I am making hardly any money, I am far from home, and I have made some serious and heartbreaking decisions regarding my romantic relationships and I am really struggling with the idea that my life is about to change forever.

I will need your prayers, you support and your understanding that I needed to make some changes in my life in order to feel happy. I am trying hard to make positive decisions and I am truly trying to use the talents and passion that God has given me to make a difference in a world that can be so cruel sometimes.

I love this decision. I am content that I am making good choices and I am really starting to feel good about myself for the first time in a long, long while.

I’d like you all to come along with me on this crazy adventure. I would like to keep you updated on what is going on and where I’m at both emotionally and literally.

So you can find me and my updates on this blog…..and I appreciate the prayers. Lots of them.