Poverty In America

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sometimes numbers just don't cut it with relaying information. Below is a fantastic infographic that highlights poverty statistics in the U.S.A.

Did You Know...?

Monday, July 22, 2013

  • In 2011 The 4 most popular volunteer service activities were
    1. Fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2%)
    2. Collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (23.6%)
    3. Engaging in general labor or transportation (20.3%)
    4. Tutoring or teaching (18.2%)
  • More women than men volunteer regardless of education, age, and other demographics
  • Volunteer rates were lowest among 20-24 year olds
  • Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) working mothers volunteered
  • Married people volunteer more than non-married individuals
  • Individuals with children volunteer more than those without kids
  • The average volunteer spent a total of 50 hours volunteering from Sept. 2011-2012
  • In 2011 The top 5 states of volunteering:
    1. Utah 40.9%
    2. Idaho 38.8%
    3. Iowa 38.4%
    4. Minnesota 38.0%
    5. South Dakota 36.8%
  • More volunteers volunteered in 2011 than in any year since 2005

Puentes al Futuro Newsletter: Volume 1, Issue 1

Thursday, July 18, 2013

As adults we know why we love having the Puentes al Futuro Summer Camp here on campus. It gives the kids access to a lot of fun activities (including sports, an indoor swimming pool, and arts and crafts), they can continue working on their academics (English and Math classes occur twice a week each), and they work closely with college-aged counselors who serve as mentors and role models. 

But, do the kids love it? If so, why? To solve these perplexing questions, the camp's English teacher, Jenny, asked the campers to write about why they love camp as a part of the regular newsletter project she is doing with them!

Read below to see what the kids really think. There are some truly heart-warming accounts.

"Poverty, Love, and Money" by Jessica Jackley

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jessica Jackley's Ted Talk, "Poverty, Love, and Money" touches upon a lot of themes that surround many of us who are involved in community engagement, volunteerism, and social justice. Around the CCE, we like to downplay the use of the word "help." It is not with a mentality that we are giving to those less fortunate out of guilt, shame, or feeling more adequate, but with the mindset that we are sharing a skill or gift with our neighbors who are in turn sharing their skills and gifts with us. Rather than a one-way road, we emphasize building symbiotic partnerships with those we work and interact with. 

This mindset is relatively new. Many people, like Jessica, give money or time to help someone because it is what is expected of them. They hear stories about the poor suffering and think only to address this immediate misfortune. 

However, there are two sides to every story. I highly encourage you to watch Jessica's talk, hear about her exploration of the state of poverty, application of love, and power of money. 

If you're unsure how to tackle a social justice you find challenging, how to better understand and empathize with someone you may otherwise look down on because of their financial status, how you fit in to society as a volunteer or advocate, this video is perfect for you! 

Video link: http://bit.ly/14WXXil
Jessica's foundation: http://bit.ly/13rUfsI http://http://

Puentes to the Future Highlights

Thursday, July 11, 2013

For today's post, the CCE staff figured we'd take a break from writing and share a story one of our campers wrote! Prompted by the counselors, this camper wrote about her favorite elective.

The campers and counselors have been doing some pretty fun things here at Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) Summer Camp. Everyday is a new adventure, activity, and conversation. Already two weeks into it, we're seeing the campers grow and develop as they get used to the camp, their classes, and each other. Between classes/tutoring in the morning and recreational or academic enrichment activities in the afternoon, everyone is exhausted by the end of a fun day. We're excited for what the next couple of weeks will bring! 

Above: Two counselors (on the left in blue shirts) site with a group of campers as they eat lunch and prepare for the afternoon activity. Everyone was given a shirt for being a part of Puentes in the summer; counselors received blue shirts and campers were given red

Below: Campers and counselors relive the best gym class by taking out the parachute on a hot summer day in the field in front of Eastern's Student Center. 

Top 4 Websites for Good News

Monday, July 8, 2013

It seems that lately, there really is nothing good reported on by the news. Even the exciting stuff is attached to  a political agenda or met with so much skepticism that there leaves almost no hope in what could be further achieved. 

To combat all of the despair, here are the CCE's top 5 sites for getting exciting and hopeful news:

1. GOOD Is
What It's All About: "GOOD is a global community of, by, and for pragmatic idealists working towards individual and collective progress."
Pros: Also marketed as a social networking site, GOOD IS connects you to ideas, articles, infographics, and people who might be overlooked by mainstream news channels. 


2. Huffington Post: Good News
What It's All About:Blogs, articles, videos, pictures, etc. all on happy, uplifting news in the traditional Huffington Post style we all know and love.
Pros: This site delivers a healthy mix of great ideas and cute pictures to relieve you from the stress of reading the everyday news.


3. Good News Network 
What It's All About: "The mission is to provide a "Daily Done of News to Enthuse." The Good News Network® is a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive compelling news stories from around the globe. Daily stories will confirm what we already believe: good news itself is not in short supple; the advertising of it is."
Pros: This site does an amazing job staying on top of the most recent great news that is out there. As a bonus, they are getting a new site!


4. Happy News
What It's All About: "Real news. Compelling stories. Always positive."
Pros: Graphically stimulating, they feature up-to-date news and a variety of sub topics that include Healthy Living and "Happy Products."


Defining What it Means to be a Volunteer

Friday, July 5, 2013

Now a few months shy of my second year of full-time service work, I find myself reflecting on how I define what it means to be a volunteer and what motivates me to do it. When I tell people that I am in my second year of AmeriCorps, they look at my like I have two heads. Why would anyone give up two full years of making money? When these questions first popped into my mind, I thought I'd solved it rather quickly. My answer: I am an able-bodied, educated (more or less) individual and have the time to devote my time and skills, for free, to a cause, organization, or person who needs them. So why not?

I was curious about what the dictionary said and how close my own response was to their definition of a volunteer.

Well, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides this definition for what a "volunteer" is:

volunteer (a noun): a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service: as

a: one who enters into military service voluntarily

b (1): one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest (2): one who receives a conveyance or transfer of property without giving valuable consideration
Similar to my original thought, Merriam-Webster's definition is based off of an assumption that the only "valuable" motivations are money, legality, and commitment. 

I thought about it some more and I realized that while it's not money, there are a lot of valuable reasons why I volunteer. Sometimes I get a t-shirt or food. Sometimes I come away having learned more than I feel I gave towards a cause or task. Other times I make friends who continue to stay my friends even after we are no longer volunteering together. I've built professional networks through my volunteer work. Even the AmeriCorps website has a page devoted to all of the non-monetary benefits to volunteering, http://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/benefits-volunteering.

I became curious to learn what motivates others.

Being the researcher I am, and having a lot of friends who are more seasoned volunteers than I, I decided to ask what other people thought. I received some pretty interesting responses.

To paraphrase the responses: "I like volunteering because I can try something new and different;"  "It is just fun and feels good;" "I just am really passionate about this cause and want to help make it a success."

Looking for the motivations of volunteering, I realized something interesting. In their selflessness, volunteers are self-serving. Most volunteers don't want to admit this, but it's true.

But what can this we want our cake and we want to eat it too mentality of volunteers translate into? For those of us who enjoy what we receive from volunteering and want to get money from it too, it means more socially conscientious career-, business-, and political-based decisions. And, ever so slowly, change the world.

To be a volunteer is many things wrapped up into one. It is both an individualized and shared mindset among all who volunteer. It is finding worth in your life and the lives of others'

Volunteering is a part of living. So, I pose this question to you. How have you lived?

-Jacqui, AmeriCorps*VISTA