Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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National Poetry Month 2014 PosterLike a pebble plunk

Making circles in a pond,

Good neighbors reach out.

Like my haiku? It’s in honor of National Poetry Month, one of many, many great things you can get involved in as a “good neighbor” in your community. Pick one of these five suggestions and reach out!

1. Celebrate Poetry: As I said, April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate an important and cherished art form. Libraries and poets laureate all over the Bay Area are marking the month with special events and displays to help people interact with reading and creating poetry. Folks at the Oakland Public Library decorated the staircases from top to bottom with poems created by Oakland Youth Poet Laureates, California poets, and children’s poets. In Cupertino the Poet Laureate has launched a Poetry Exchange, where people can see new poems daily, or contribute their own poems. Contact your local library to find out what special events are happening in your city. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 5: Getting Busy Building Community

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habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-volunteersIf I had to boil my five days of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, it would come to this: good people can make a difference in their communities, even in the face of overwhelming problems.

All week long I couldn’t help contrasting what was happening at the national level with what was happening right in my own backyard of Silicon Valley with CWP. The government was shut down, seemingly mired in an impossible conflict, yet all of us working on CWP were getting something truly good done in our communities. Groups like Habitat are tackling huge issues like affordable housing, and make a real impact. Of course Habitat couldn’t do what it does without partnering with municipalities and governmental agencies, but it’s not chained to a political process that sometimes leaves the most vulnerable in the dust.

Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, nearly 30 families in Oakland and San Jose were helped in very valuable ways. Work on a dozen new homes in Oakland progressed, renovation work on two homes in San Jose came closer to completion, and about 15 homes got things like new roofs, energy-efficient windows, new insulation, siding, and numerous repairs both small and large.  [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 4: The Kindness Continues

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Siding Lesson

Volunteers get a lesson from an experienced staff member in how to side a house.

The work—and the kindness—continued at the Carter Work Project in San Jose on Day 4. Teams of volunteers—about half have been here all week, the other half new that day—moved out a little earlier than usual to worksites, determined to finish what was started a few days before.

I’ve seen it happen on other week-long service events, volunteers taking ownership of the project, determined to finish before they have to leave on Friday. A sense of urgency takes over on Day 4, because typically the last day is not a full day. Tomorrow projects come to an end just before 2 p.m.

On this day everyone left from Lake Cunningham Park to job sites for the entire day, rather than returning midday for lunch, saving travel time to and from the worksites before and after. Which meant the support staff volunteers at home base had to scramble in the late morning to divide and pack up the day’s lunch for pickup by site hosts. There were less sites on this day, since three home repair jobs were completed in the first three days, leaving five repair sites and two home renovations.

In my role as Social Media Volunteer, I spent most of my day writing stories about volunteers and staff at the event for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, as well as taking photos. The highlight of my day was interviewing an amazing 79-year-old woman who criss-crosses the country in a RV to build Habitat homes. I was honored to hear her story. I’ll post a link to it later.

 

 

 

Carter Work Project Day 3: ‘The Volunteers are Very Cool’

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Overfelt High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club.

I lived to see Day 3 of the Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, something I wasn’t too sure about at the end of Day 2, when President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter came to work. After getting up at 4:30 a.m. and working a full day on Tuesday, I had my doubts, especially when I felt a little tickle in my throat that evening.

To make it to a new day of volunteering, I loaded up on Vitamin C and let myself sleep in, knowing that the registration table was in good hands with the other volunteers I worked with on Monday and Tuesday, and that the number of volunteers checking in would drop back down to Monday’s levels. Thankfully the extra sleep worked; I had the energy to continue my social media volunteer duties all day Wednesday.

On Tuesday my focus was on capturing photos of the executives and employees of the numerous companies that donated to the CWP. Wednesday I spent time with an awesome group of Overfelt High School students who founded a Habitat for Humanity Club at their school. I also interviewed a group of experienced Habitat construction employees who came up as a group from Los Angeles. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 2: ‘Habitat a Gift to All of Us’

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-san-jose-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesTuesday was Day 2 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, or rather, The Big Day, since President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn came to work side by side with a partner family and hundreds of volunteers.

The morning started early and in the dark at 6 a.m. for those of us serving as registration volunteers. We fumbled in the dark, using a couple of flashlights and our cell phones to read off names as volunteers showed up. Approximately 275 volunteers checked in over the next couple of hours.

Sometime after 8 a.m. the stars of the event, President and Mrs. Carter, arrived by a small motorcade, and more than 300 people, including volunteers and donors who attended an earlier breakfast, burst into applause as they walked from the parking lot to the outdoor pavilion in Lake Cunningham Park. Moments later the crowd stood up and cheered for President Carter as he took to the stage to speak, prompting him to quip, “Sit down, save your strength, you’re going to need it for later in the day!” [Read more…]

The Push is On: 2,000 Habitat Volunteers Needed for Carter Work Project This Fall

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Mike Rico of Americorps and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley readies a volunteer project.

Former President Jimmy Carter could use some help on an important “To Do” list of community work projects in Oakland and San Jose this October, which is why the Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley staff is busy at the moment rounding up approximately 2,000 volunteers.

Carter, who will turn 89 on Oct. 1, and his wife Rosalynn, 85, are coming to Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 6, to kickoff Habitat’s Carter Work Project (CWP),an annual major service and fundraising event now in its 30th year. This is the first time a CWP has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After an opening ceremony in Oakland on Sunday, the Carters will work with volunteers on Monday at the nonprofit’s Brookfield Court Development in Oakland, and on Tuesday in the Dorsa-TOCKNA neighborhood of San Jose. They will then fly to projects in Denver, and finally New York City, where the first CWP took place in 1984. Work will continue on projects in the Bay Area through Friday, Oct. 11. [Read more…]

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Coming to Bay Area for Habitat Project

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyPresident Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for two days in October as part of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP) service event for Habitat for Humanity. It is the first time the annual project is happening in the region.

This year’s CWP runs from Sunday, Oct. 6, to Friday, Oct. 11, with building activities, community projects, and special events taking place in San Jose, Oakland, Denver, and New York. The Carters will start in the Bay Area on Sunday, and leave on Tuesday, Oct. 8, traveling east until they reach New York, the site of the first CWP in 1984. [Read more…]