I woke up in my new Knoxville home, rolling off the tattered mattress pad serving as my temporary bed onto the laminate wood floor, covered in a layer of dust. What was this barren room? I had left my comfortable, cozy, love-filled Michigan home to move South and start a new adventure, but in the early morning light the emptiness of this new habitat was overwhelming.
Restructuring your entire life has a way of bringing your values (and instabilities) into sharp relief. I was frantic those first couple of days, insisting on unpacking each box, hanging each painting, arranging each book on a shelf. I couldn’t handle living in a half-lived-in place. My cat couldn’t handle it either. She dove into an uncovered AC vent and remained there for an entire day, my certainty about her tragic demise not helping my already stress tangled brain.
A few weeks in, I found myself nestled into a cozy nook of my room, cat on my lap (she decided against permanent residence in the AC vent when she realized there was no food in there), reflecting on what had made me feel so frenetic and anxious those first few days. Continue reading “Homemaking to Placemaking”
As evidenced by the number of pet pics many of us carry on our phones, our furry companions provide love, loyalty, supportive hugs and snuggles, a touching dependency, and hilarious hi-jinx. They inspire, amuse, rescue, comfort, and complete us, and this day is dedicated to giving them the recognition they deserve. To all our best friends, here and gone, we love you. Continue reading “National Pet Day: April 11”
For National Pet Day (April 11th) I wanted to reflect on the role that cats played in my second year of AmeriCorps service back in 2007. It was the winter and I had relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in January for my second term of service with Florida State Parks. Continue reading “Cat Man Deux – A tribute to two Americats”
Most CAC AmeriCorps Members spend their service year in focused association with their sponsoring organization, perhaps developing their strongest relationships with the supervisor, staff, and clients. But several partnering entities have more than enough work to go around, the means of supporting that work, and, from this, the opportunity to develop well-functioning, tightly bounded crews. These include the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Beardsley Farm, Knox County Storm Water, and University of Tennessee Recycling. It was in 2010 that Jay Price, the UT Recycling Manager, welcomed in the first AmeriCorps State/National Members, and the number has grown since, expanding to include a VISTA Member in the 2017-2018 service year, capping the current total at 5. Such is the comradery that forms in this group that requests for serving a second year with the same Members has become commonplace.
Before this year, the partner organizations and their respective AmeriCorps Members in our VISTA program have been building organizational capacity to provide economic opportunity, training, and resources to populations who experience significant barriers to employment. Other sites have been concentrating on creating healthier futures to our most food insecure and isolated members in the community, including seniors, children, and the homeless. These efforts proudly continue and are being added to by two new sites, Girls, Inc. and Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, dedicated to combating poverty through one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal: EDUCATION.