Through these unprecedented times, the SCI AmeriCorps Program kicked off the 2020 Service Year on September 1st with high expectations for community impact despite the logistical challenges. This year’s SCI AmeriCorps members are excited and eager to support our partner host sites by finding new ways to facilitate and support youth programming.
This year’s cohort consists of eighteen members, two of those returning for a second year of service, to serve at fourteen host site organizations in the Greater Boston area. The program is funded for twenty-five slots, so there are openings for some additional partners.
During the first week of September, the SCI AmeriCorps members completed their virtual orientation that spanned over four days with morning and afternoon sessions. Each session focused on different topics including mental health/self-care, team bonding, community building, social capital, and racial equity. The afternoon sessions were spent listening to episodes of The Art of Charm podcast and discussing our reactions to the topics. The content of these episodes included critical feedback, rebooting our busy minds, and networking through social capital.
During their service year, the SCI AmeriCorps members will also be reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist as part of ongoing learning about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Members will alternate leading a discussion about the assigned chapter that week. After reading the introduction together, the members discussed their reactions, thoughts, feelings, and excitement to continue reading this book.
As stated previously, this service year comes with many challenges. Many members face the challenge of starting their service year remotely. Some of the questions the cohort constantly asked themselves and their supervisors were:
- How do the members connect with youth virtually?
- How do the members support youth virtually?
- How do the members recruit volunteers virtually?
- How do the members connect with each other virtually?
The members spent time discussing these challenges by breaking up into groups by their respective positions (Youth Leadership Coordinator and Volunteer Outreach Coordinator). In these groups, the members discussed ideas they had, the previous experience they had being virtual, and ways they can help each other. The members worked hard on determining creative ways to keep the youth engaged and ways to recruit volunteers.
Even with the challenges they face, the members remain confident in their ability to positively impact the youth and communities they serve while being virtual.
Since 2007, the SCI AmeriCorps program has supported youth through volunteerism, leadership training, and community service opportunities. The goal of the SCI AmeriCorps program is to connect youth with relationships, experiences, and resources they need to succeed.