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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!!

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!!!

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!!!

Too Long

Sorry I haven’t written for quite a while. We have limited internet access, but the last two weeks have been full of training and team bonding.

All the snow has melted here so it much easier to walk around and enjoy the property we live on.

Last week we had red cross training, diversity training, safe places for children and a few team bonding activities and meetings. We were assigned to a new team last Wednesday and it was odd at first because our first team was so close, but were are getting along well now and enjoying each other. Everyone on my team are from such different backgrounds and areas it’s going to be a fabulous and wild year.

Last weekend I headed up to Delaware to go out with some friends and brought one of my roommates with me. It was so nice going out and dancing. Saturday morning we headed up to Philadelphia to go sightseeing. I was surprised by the gorgeous architecture of the buildings downtown the unique lay-out of the city. I saw the LOVE statue, South Street, game pieces garden, Magic Gardens, Independence Hall, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Penn campus and bars.

I was blown away by the modern and impressionist collection at the art museum. There were some beautiful classics from Van Gogh, Monet and Degas and some inspiring new work from Several Modern artists.

While traveling down South Street I felt like I was in a different country. There were so many odd, quaint shops selling trinkets, records, retro clothes and delicious food. We stumbled across the Magic Gardens, which is a building and an empty lot that a local artist has filled with mosaics. It was gorgeous, full of color, statues and inspiration. I had my first Philly Cheese steak and decided I didn’t love them. I also had a Philly taco which is a cheese steak wrapped in a piece of pizza, too much, but interesting.  

This week we had communicating peacefully, CPR and first aide, van driver training and healthy habits seminars and training. The CPR and Frist Aide training was probably my favorite because I knew I was learning important life skills that could be used at any time to help a person in need. 

Yesterday I did an ISP (independent service project) with team temp at Elk Head, a state park in Maryland. It was great being with my original team again. The weather was great and it was lovely working outside on a project that we got to see from start to finish. We built some gradual steps under an information sign for a light house. The material we used were recycled plastic 2X4s we cut up into different sized pieces and cut notches into to stack like lincoln logs, then we filled it with gravel. I used some power tools like a skill saw, which I thoroughly loved. The work went by fast and we worked together so well. After we had a team dinner at a local mom and pop cafe. 

Tuesday we are heading to Delaware for our mini-spike, so tomorrow we will spend it getting ready. We are doing infrastructure work at a state park and staying in cabins together. This will be our first team experience living, working, sleeping, traveling and cooking together. We’ll see how it goes…

I have officially been in Americorps for one week now and I’m beginning to learn what I will be doing this upcoming year. We were introduced to teams, went through in-processing paperwork and had the most thorough physical known to man.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the sky opened up and dumped more snow than any Marylander has ever seen so several things screeched to a halt in the state including our training. Delaware and Maryland declared a state-wide emergency for two days.

The biggest challenge of the week was shopping for a weeks worth of groceries in one hour with exactly $381 for 11 people. It sounded much easier than it actually was.

I was able to get out on Thursday and explore the towns around my campus and get a feeling for where I live. I couldn’t be more pleased to be in such a historical, beautiful and political part of the country.

All 212 of us are living in an old VA hospital, which I am hoping is haunted. I am in a room with eight other girls, so the best way to describe this experience thus far is a colorful mix between college, summer camp and hostel life.

This Saturday six of us squished in Joey’s Buick and rumbled up to Washington DC. Andrea and I stayed at a friends penthouse in Chevy Chase feeling like Queens. The next day we met the crew at the mall and explored the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, National Art Gallery contemporary side and the glowing White House. Oh and how can I forget the delicious soul food on Howard University campus.

After sitting through several seminars and team meetings I feel this year is going to be challenging and rewarding, full of repetition and modification. I am thrilled and ready for this journey!

Oregon Trail Council

In my public relations campaigns class this term my group and I worked with the Oregon Trail Council. It was a fantastic experience. The two men we worked with were very open and interested in our ideas.

We had the opportunity to help them with retention numbers and recruiting new scouts. I gained experience in giving presentations, doing public relations research, writing a public relations plan and contributing to staff meetings.

In the beginning I didn’t realize how much research needed to go into public relations, but that ended up being one of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed our impromptu mini presentations and our final large presentation that we delivered to our clients. After the presentation we sat down with each other and the clients and talked more about our implementation ideas.

In our final plan we ended up recommending that they implement everything that we pitched to them in the presentation. Our main program that we recommended was a mentor program were Boy Scouts would partner up with Cub Scouts, like a big brother program, and mentor and guide them into becoming a Boy Scout. They would help teach them scouting practices and show them how wonderful it is to be a Boy Scout. 

 We also had several smaller ideas to help with participation and retention. These were: an updated volunteer mission statement, a short exit survey to send out to parents at the end of the scouting season, a video competition for the scouts and a more efficient blog for volunteers and leaders to share their ideas. 

Overall, I really enjoyed working with the Oregon Trail Council and getting a real client experience this term. I can’t wait to dive into the public relations field, hopefully in professional sports or tourism.

Here is a link to a Public Relations site that has great resources: http://advertising.about.com/od/publicrelationsresources/Public_Relations_Resources.htm

I also added our Client Report number two that I wrote regarding our Research to my E-Portfolio on this blog. It is called Oregon Trail Council Research Document.