Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Impressions

by: Barbara Wheeler, AmeriCorps Assistant Coordinator


AmeriCorps Member, Gillian Douple shares some of her first impressions as she begins her year of service, reflecting on one of her many AmeriCorps responsibilities at Franciscan Outreach Association in Chicago.

* Names were changed to protect the privacy of the individuals

"When I found out I would be a full time AmeriCorps Member at a soup kitchen this year, I experienced a panorama of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, expectations of cooking—all kinds of things. When I thought about it, though, I did not expect to be doing the guests’ laundry, though my soup kitchen complex also offers one of the only—if not the only—free drop-off laundry services in the city.

Doing a person’s laundry is, ultimately, a humbling experience. There is an intimacy in cleaning a person’s dirty clothes and the information I can gather from doing the laundry itself. I know that Charles’s wife is a tiny lady with a sassy dressing taste; I know when Mike has been on a drinking binge by the level of disgustingness in his laundry; I know just how many pairs of jeans Roberto has. I know not to inhale when doing the laundry, and I know that Karen is sneaking in her friend’s laundry into her suitcase. Today, I washed Lawrence’s sheets, which were so thin that they were transparent—and now I know for a fact that he has bedbugs as well. There are even times when I can speak to a person who barely knows me and still know what type of underwear they prefer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spotlight on SMA Lay Missionaries: Soap on a Rope

by Linda Thompson, Catholic Volunteer Network Intern

“Great things come in small packages.”  A creative idea and a small but very useful product have paved the way for a group of high school girls to earn money to pay for their school fees, to purchase supplies for this creative venture, and to save for their college tuition.

Soap on a Rope, an after-school project, is helping these young entrepreneurs fill a need in their community while also helping build their self-esteem.  The unique feature of these bars of soap, made and sold by the girls in the program, is that they can be hung from trees or at the water pump. Their workshop is right in their school, St. Dominic High School, in Bomi, Liberia.

The Soap on a Rope project organizer, Rachel, and her helpers.
The motivator and organizer of this soap-making project is Rachel Gillman, serving with Catholic Volunteer Network program S.M.A. Lay Missionaries. Rachel has established a working relationship with a steady buyer of the product – Mary’s Meals – a school feeding program that is a non-profit organization.  Mary’s Meals buys the soap (230 bars of soap per month) to distribute to the schools in the surrounding area, such as Bomi, Gbopulu, Monsterrado, and Grand Cape Mount counties.

On a monthly basis, Mary’s Meals delivers not only rice but also one, five-inch cube-shaped bar of soap to each school.  As Rachel explains, “no two soaps ever turn out the same size….but the soap can last the school for an entire month.”    

Congratulations CVN AmeriCorps Sub-Grantees!

by: Caitlin Baummer

There are so many things to celebrate and be thankful for in the CVN AmeriCorps office this month! After a great visit from our Program Officer at the Corporation for National and Community Service, CVN AmeriCorps learned that we have been granted AmeriCorps funding for the 14th year in a row! We are proud to be one of 275 AmeriCorps Grantees for 2012-2013.

Furthermore, after reviewing a host of applications from our outstanding programs, CVN AmeriCorps is pleased to announce our 2012-2013 Award Recipients:

2011 LMU PLACE Corps Volunteers
Alumni Volunteer and Discernment Program at Saint Ignatius High School


Congratulations to all of our programs. We look forward to “Getting Things Done for America” with you in 2012-2013!


For prospective volunteers- many of these programs are still accepting applications. As an AmeriCorps Member, you are eligible for National Loan Forbearance and an Education Award up to $5,550 to use toward student loans or future education. For more information, contact the Program Director of the program in which you are interested or send general questions to cvnamericorps@catholicvolunteernetwork.org.