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Archive for March, 2010

Pinpoint Disaster

Monday started with buckets and buckets of water dumping from the sky. I went on a 3 hour grocery trip, came back changed and hurried up to Pawtucket to work at the visitors center.

The work was different from what we thought it would be and a bit mundane, but necessary. We redecorated and hung more pictures up in the Blackstone Valley tourism office and we organized the pamphlet closet. We finished early and had lunch in the van silently staring out the window at the rain waiting to head to the Pawtucket Soup kitchen. Once we got there work and the overall mood quickly picked up.

I was struggling this particular night with the close proximity of the team and living quarters so I enjoyed some quiet time in the hallway listening to the rain pound the sky light. As the night went on I was able to enjoy the company of others.

Tuesday morning came with grey sky’s and lots more rain. We showed up bright and early at the highway department to fill sandbags for people to pick up and for delivery. By lunch time Rhode Island had gone into a state-wide disaster due to all the flooding and road closers. In the afternoon I had the opportunity to go out on deliveries with Tony and Marco and actually see the impact we were attempting on making in the community. We were out in the pouring rain dragging 50 pound sand bags off the truck and around peoples homes trying to stop the water from running into their basements and first floors. It was shocking to see how terrible the water levels had gotten. One house we delivered at had basically a pond in their backyard and no basement so the water was flooding into their first floor. Another elderly couple lost power and had about five inches of water in their basement. We tramped down there in the dark and placed sand bags around the doors to stop the water from coming in the basement.

Shortly after the work day ended Christian and I were called on disaster relief and had to prepare to head to Cranston to take over for Jamie and Chris at 11 p.m. We spent the entire night at an Emergency center answering phone calls for people who needed help. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing because it was slow, everyone was asleep. About an hour before our shift ended we began to receive dozens of calls. It was heartbreaking listening to all the flood and sewage damage to people’s homes but I am glad I could be there to try to help and make a difference.

Overall it was a great night so bring on the disaster relief, I’m ready!!!

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I know it has been over a week since I have blogged, which is because we have been tremendously busy something everyone is happy about.

I went into the weekend exhausted after a week of work at the park and at the Blackstone River theater. Starting Friday out cranky because I was up early doing a one on one I knew it could only go up from there, I started dreading the weekend because it was packed with volunteering and ISP; however it turned out to be wonderful.

Friday afternoon Badger one headed to the Blackstone River Theater for painting and pizza. Immediately after work we took off for Providence College to work a Relay for Life event. I have never worked an event like this before and normally it would have been wonderful but because of my tired state it was long. The separate events on the track were nice to watch. We handed out beads for people who were tracking their laps and I finished off my night selling pizza to students, which made the last few hours entertaining and go by quickly.

Saturday morning Chris, Bob and I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for serving at the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen. Arriving at 9 a.m. we met the kitchen cooks and staff and soon knew this was the place for us. They were funny, skilled and laid back about the work. Flipping pancakes, shoveling potatoes and turning sausages were my main jobs, then the boys and I jumped in the line and had the opportunity to serve the people in need. I had no idea how wonderful it would feel serving people food. I felt like I was directly helping a cause in need by handing food to a hungry person.

After a few hours of chores and napping a few of us headed to the Blackstone Theater to work a show. Matt and Shannon Heaton were the headliners along with another duo. Tonight was much more eventful than the first time we worked a show. First of all it was a completely packed house; people were standing in the back. We worked concessions, did set-up and cleaned the hall. Listening to the performers I had goosebumps from Shannon’s voice. She sounded similar to Alisson Krauss but with the tiniest Irish accent. The entire day was wonderful including our relaxation time after work at the theater.

Sunday evening we spent three hours at the Gamm theater in Pawtucket painting and taking down bleachers. By the time I got home bed had never sounded so amazing!

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Hot and Cold

We have been in Cumberland for about a week now, here is a brief explanation of how I am feeling: excited, sore, tired, cramped, slightly bored and educated.

This past week we spent four tiring days working on the Valley Falls Heritage Park. Honestly, we killed it. The city believed it would take us much longer to renovate the park than it did. I guess you could say we are a well oiled machine. Among many of our tasks, we raked leaves, picked up garbage and cleared about small trees, underbrush and twigs.

Through out the week we had sporadic PT’s, some in the steamy sun and sun and others under the stars. The apartment is beginning to feel a little small, especially because we have no where to hang out other than in each others bedrooms. Luckily we do have the hallway.

Wednesday was St. Patrick’s day and I knew I had to spend it in Providence. Immediately after work we headed into the city to find a place to experience a traditional Irish dinner, of course all of the waits for restaurants were over an hour. Splitting up with the group Chris and I were determined not to settle on a random place we wanted delicious food and our wait was worth it. We found a perfect Cuban restaurant called Cuban Revolution where we shoveled burritos into our mouths and then had some beers. Wandering the streets we found several Irish like pubs and stopped in a handful of them for Guinness and green beer.

The temperature went higher and higher as the days chugged on and eventually Friday hit 70. Saturday was a gorgeous day where I finally got to relax all morning and through the afternoon. As the evening hit I headed to the Blackstone River Theater for some community service and educational music. The world champion accordion player happened to be performing that evening so I set up a 6 hour Individual Service Project for myself and another team member. We helped set up and take down the venue. It was a fabulous show. My favorite piece was the saxophone player, he was mind-blowing.

This new week brings coldness and rain. We are in charge of lining up some work for ourselves this week because we finished the park so quickly, and the town isn’t ready for us to start on the school.

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Cumberland, RI

Early Saturday morning our van was the first to take off from Perry Point.  We couldn’t wait to get out of there and up to New England.

The rain dumped on the car all afternoon as if we were underneath a waterfall. Manhattan was barely visible as we cruised through the outer limits of the city.

Nearing Rhode Island Ramona yelled from the back, “How many states have we been in today?” The entire van began to count and eventually came to the conclusion that we were in six states.

Our sponsor met us at the town hall and gave us a great briefing of the town, history and things to do. Of course, I asked more questions than anyone, but we soon learned about all the St. Patrick’s activities, great spots to eat and how predominate the portuguese community is here in Cumberland and Central Falls.

Checking into our one bedroom apartment was not nearly as bad as we though. Some of us had this tiny jail cell of an apartment in our minds but there is plenty of space. We stumbled upon Carerlos’ Pizza and chowed down after unpacking.

The next day Chris and I went on an extremely long adventure to Boston. It’s generally supposed to take about an hour to get to Boston from Cumberland; however it took us six. It was still a nice and entertaining day because we got out of the apartment and I got to see my favorite city in the country.

Monday morning, our first day with our sponsors, we began at the city hall with portuguese pastries coffee and tea. Everyone is so enthusiastic about having us here. We got some great information about the history of the city, the mills, local activities and a more than comprehensive driving tour. Arriving back from the tour we discovered a full spread of sandwiches, fruit, chips and treats. It was delicious. Tomorrow is our first day of actual work!!

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Presentation, Check!

The last three days have been insanely busy but rewarding. I’ll skip sunday because it was basically relaxation day and then the usual 8 p.m. cleaning party my favorite thing ever!!! 

Monday we woke up early for PT, which consisted of running along the water on the road. It was a gorgeous day, I couldn’t imagine a better way to start out the week. We ran along the water and listened to the Geese sing their songs as the sun came up in front of us.

We spent the morning doing a reflection exercise about our mini-spike which was hilarious. We had a writing, talking and acting section. Our acting section was the best. We acted out the night we had our cook out then found out where our round 1 spike was. It was great because Ryan had clues all over the paper plates and napkins and no picked up on it until almost after dinner. Badger 1 wasn’t quite on their game that night.

We had a conference call with our sponsor and had the opportunity to ask questions about our project, community and housing. Seconds before our conference call we found out we were being downgraded from a 4 bedroom farm house to a one bedroom apartment because the farm house wasn’t livable yet. They said they were still working on getting another apartment for us, cross your fingers.

I conducted a resume building workshop with a few other girls at the Outreach program. The turnout was a little rough but we still enjoyed the 2 kids who came to listen to us. Our team was beyond exhausted after this day, so we ended the night with Chris playing his guitar and singing!

Tuesday started out with two corps members in our group getting popped on by low flying geese. Then off to the library for hours of research about Cumberland and Rhode Island. We had to stay up late finishing our power point presentation we had to do today for the deputy director.

We started this morning with less than 5 hours of sleep. The PT test was our first activity. Sit-ups, push -up and the one mile run. My goal was to get 100 percent on all of the events. I killed it in sit-ups and push-ups, but I was 12 seconds away from getting 100 percent in the mile so I was pretty bummed. That is my physical goal this year, beat the 7:48 time for the mile.

Right after that we ran to our rooms and got ready for our power point presentation, which I have to say went fabulous. We all knew what we were talking about and sounded positive and confident. I can’t wait for Rhode Island.

Go Badger one!!!

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Mini-Spike

Tuesday morning Badger one left for our mini-spike. We made it to Killens pond state park in Delaware for our meeting with the Sponsors and learned that there is a river in the park called murderkill, it’s named that because a Native American tribe massacred a Dutch Trading party at the mouth of the river in 1648.

Checking into our cabins was a breeze because of the quaint size. The campgrounds reminded me of Camp Reed, my childhood summer camp. Except these cabins had a bathroom and kitchen.

I felt like the girl’s team did some great bonding during the last few days. We played taboo, listened to music, drank tea and learned more about each other.

Our first day we headed to White Clay Creek Pond and spent the morning sanding and priming the upstairs room of a house turned nature center, built in 1775. For those of you who know me I was in heaven with all the history and old homes and forts we were spending time in. Our afternoon was more of a physical workout. We yanked massive branches and chunks of trees out of the forest and drug them to clearings to be chipped. There was still about a foot of snow in some places, so it’s safe to say my heartbeat was well in the cardio range all afternoon.

The following day we heading to Fort Delaware state park, a civil war fort that housed confederate prisoners and was used up until WWII. As we crossed the Delaware River on the ferry I felt like we were heading to Alcatraz. When we arrived we found several friendly, enthusiastic staff members waiting to show us around. I was beyond excited to be there and explore this classic, old fort. Harry, one of the historic renovation specialists, gave me an excellent tour of the soldiers office’s and sleeping quarters. I found POW writings on the wall from WWII and a door still in place from the civil war with inscriptions on it. The rooms were huge with hat and coat racks still attached to some of the walls. I could practically feel the soldiers who breezed in and out of the rooms more than a hundred years ago. After a brief tour I got to work dusting and cleaning the windows of the officers rooms. There I met Rick, a scientific Delaware Ghost Hunter who filled me in on all the exciting details of the ghost sighting at the fort and new information I had never heard about ghost hunting.

When we arrived home we had a cook out and began to find out where we would be going on our first round Spike. Little did we know Ryan had put clues all over the plates and napkins we were using. Long after we had begun to eat we realized this and starting putting the clues together. We ended up having to dig through the garbage to find some of the items that had already been trashed. We first found out that we were staying in an old farm house, then we realized we would be doing, painting, maintenance and landscaping at a few of the local parks. Last, we figured out we would be going to Cumberland, RI.

Our last day on our mini-spike we did more forest clean-up moving branches and trees away from campsites. I was so exhausted after the last few days I slept most of Friday after we arrived home.

Tonight I’m heading to Alice and Wonderland with some friends. The rest of the week we will be preparing for our Spike and doing research. I can’t wait to learn more about Cumberland and Rhode Island!!!

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