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GADC and LISC/AmeriCorps Reaches New Heights

A LISC/AmeriCorps member performs some minor landscaping tasks of a home in the Lower 9th Ward of the New Orleans community.

Tiffany Horton

Nearly 100 AmeriCorps members attended the LISC/AmeriCorps National Orientation in October 2008. Members came from various states including Detroit, Michigan, Jacksonville, Florida, Los Angeles, California, San Diego, California and Chicago, Illinois. Among the members from Chicago was GADC’s AmeriCorps member, Tiffany Horton.

Tiffany Horton [R] joins her LISC/AmeriCoprs counterparts from different parts of the country for a celebratory dinner.

A LISC/AmeriCorps Member

The first day of orientation included an opening lunch in which Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) supervisors introduced themselves and gave opening remarks. Shortly after there was an icebreaker and “getting-to-know-you” exercise that allowed AmeriCorps members to intermingle with each other. The next 2 days members were split into 4 teams and attended concurrent workshops – Team Building, Cultural Competencies, Conflict Resolution, and Volunteer Techniques.

The Team Building workshops included a blind walk, in which half of the group was blind-folded and the other half of the group had to successfully lead them to a designated area. This exercise helped to build trust and allow each member to share leadership.

The Cultural Competencies workshop was very interactive. This workshop was engaging because it provoked conversation about controversial topics, such as race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and gender.

Several LISC/AmeriCorps members prep pieces of wood for placement and repair of a home in the Lower 9th Ward.

Tiffany Horton

The Conflict Resolution workshop was among the most interesting classes. Members read statements by famous philosophers and discussed the meaning of each quote. One statement written by William Ellery Channing helped members look at conflict resolution positively. He said, “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”

The last workshop, Volunteer Techniques, gave information on how non profit organizations can recruit volunteers to help on specific tasks.

The last 2 days members partnered with PRC’s Operation Comeback and the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association in the lower 9th Ward to do community action work. Although it has been 3 years since Hurricane Katrina, there was a tremendous amount work that was required to rebuild the community.

Several LISC/AmeriCorps members pose for a photo opportunity.

Tiffany Horton

As such, members we worked on 4 different homes to include the following activities: building a backyard fence, removing debris and demolition, sorting, de-nailing of salvaged material, and exterior painting. The people in the community were very gracious and thanked each AmeriCorps member repeatedly.

At the completion of the second work day, several members had a bitter sweet moment. Each was happy to have positively contributed to the community and genuinely wanted to do more.

In the end, the LISC/AmeriCorps National Orientation was a great experience. Members were ecstatic to meet other members from other cities, learn about moral fiber best practices, and give back to the residents of the lower 9th Ward.

To learn more about the LISC/AmeriCorps program, please contact Sandra Womack of LISC/Chicago at (312) 697-6105.


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