EECO Meeting the Challenges of COVID-19
It’s no surprise that the EECO AmeriCorps has been affected by the site closures and changes caused by Covid 19. However, our EECO members rise to the challenges.
With Orange having closed the district, effective 3/17/20, EECO members have been engaged with making calls to students to support them and advising students and families on missing assignments. Orange is facing challenges with not having enough computers to loan to students or having to overcome language barriers with families. Members have been engaged with loaning out chromebooks to families in need and have been in contact with Comcast to support families with free internet services to support students with remote learning. Members are further uploading videos that support the teacher’s curriculum in the classes. Members have also been using social media to advertise School and District spirit weeks and virtual activities.
EECO members at Montclair State University have been engaging partners and recruiting for service learning opportunities for the fall. At the NJSOC, members have been creating lesson plans and providing new methods for student engagement and teaching conservation.
Our EECO members have further used this opportunity to be creative in their service! From making cloth face masks for donations to animal shelters and making grocery deliveries to senior citizens through the Umbrella organization, our members shine. EECO further completed a service project of making Kindergarten cards that will be donated to the United Way. These cards include photos, favorite books/ stories, and a message to Kindergartens to encourage them. Members have also used their artistic skills to draw flyers showing the appropriate way to wash their hands to avoid cross contamination. Members even collected non perishable food for donation to local food banks. Members have also begun making videos that showcase their work over their year of service. We are so proud of our EECO AmeriCorps members!
EECO Success Stories
Christopher Shea (4th Year AmeriCorps Member, Conservation Specialist)
We are fortunate that our program is attractive to new and returning members. Christopher Shea is a member serving his fourth and final AmeriCorps with us at the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC). Not only is this member hard working and diligent at completing tasks but he has been a huge support to new members. His willingness to provide a helping hand and guidance has made the comradery amongst the NJSOC members so successful.
Christopher Shea is knowledgeable about all the NJSOC’s programs. His work engaging student visitors at the NJSOC is incredible and it has been a privilege to watch him grow. Christopher hopes to complete his final term this year and obtain employment with the Fish and Wildlife Service in New Jersey.
Alyssa Korman (1st Year AmeriCorps Member, Reading Coach)
Alyssa Korman is a Reading Coach in Rosa Parks Community School where she serves in a classroom to help students with reading proficiency. Alyssa found a passion working with children and having a background in theater led her to identify a goal of wanting to study for her Masters in Drama Therapy.
Alyssa was encouraged and provided recommendation letters from the EECO program. Alyssa applied to New York University and auditioned. We are proud to report that not only was Alyssa accepted into NYU but she also received a $25,000 AmeriCorps Alumni Scholarship for “recognition of excellent academic achievement as well as unique background and experience.”
We are proud that our program assisted Alyssa to find her passion and take the next step after her AmeriCorps term.
EECO Event Timeline
The Education, Environment and Community Outreach (EECO) AmeriCorps program at Montclair State University began its 10th year with a full cohort. EECO welcomed 18 AmeriCorps members to join service sites at the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC), Montclair State University and Orange Community Schools in Orange, NJ where they will complete service in educating students and recruiting volunteers for service learning initiatives. The EECO members completed orientation at an overnight stay at the NJSOC where they spent time learning more about their functions, receiving training and bonding together as a team.
AmeriCorps members led and participated in the National Day of Service event at Montclair State University. The AmeriCorps Community-Engaged Learning Coordinator and the AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator had a key role in planning this large service day. Coordinating with members from different departments on campus – the Office of Residence Life, the Center for Community Engagement, the Center for Student Involvement, the Office for Social Justice and Diversity, University College, Office of International Engagement, Office of Annual Giving; Alumni Engagement, Campus Police, and Student Center Programming to ensure an organized and safe event for all volunteers.
Marketing – fliers, contacting Red Hawk News (Montclair State’s email distribution system), HawkSync, and social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Volunteer Center Update Emails)
Service Site Coordination – outreach to community partners, and campus partners to coordinate services for volunteers and how many volunteers the partner can accommodate, follow up with organizations (especially due to majority of sites being outside– weather)
Logistics – create registration form for volunteers, create day of schedule, coordinate Service Leaders to sites (Bonner Leaders), meet with Student Center Programming for room set up, create survey feedback, assemble service site packets, design day of service t-shirt, and create bus routes to service sites. Participants completed service at 24 different service sites and joined in on campus service activities.
AmeriCorps celebrates 25 years of national service this year. To commemorate AmeriCorps, the New Jersey State Commission on Volunteerism hosted its annual “AmeriCorps Launch” to mark the beginning of the 2019-2020 term of service. The event was held on October 25, 2019 and was held at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. Multiple guest presenters came to celebrate AmeriCorps from Secretary of State, Tanesha Way and a key speaker, CEO of the Community Charter School of Paterson, Curtis Palmore. The members stood and took the AmeriCorps Oath together as they pledged to get things done for America!
EECO AmeriCorps members were busy at Rosa Parks Community School where they handed out turkeys and meals to over 150 families. EECO members were tasked with sorting the food, contacting families, and assisting with meal pick up and drop off. Rosa Parks Community Schools has over 900 students from pre-K – 7th grade and the school reports over 95% of students receive free or reduced lunch. The impact of the EECO AmeriCorps program provided that many families would have a Thanksgiving meal over the extended break.
EECO AmeriCorps members supported the Orange District Conference on 12/7/19 at the Lincoln Ave School in Orange, NJ. At this event, AmeriCorps members played a huge role in orchestrating registration, donation of meals for the event, donation of raffle prizes, set up and clean up, along with child care. The event welcomed approximately 200 parents who participated in various sessions that discussed: health and wellness, financial planning, early literacy, community support and resources, etc. During this conference parents met with presenters and school administration where they received valuable information to connect them with services for their family.
EECO AmeriCorps members gather to support the annual Rosa Parks Community School Breakfast with Santa event on 12/14/19. Members hold a big share in the success of the event as they identify arts and crafts activities and a budget. Members are available to wrap gifts for giveaways, complete the pre event set up, and serve as active leaders through the course of the day where families are welcomed to a hot breakfast, family photo with Santa, and are led through various family activities within the school. The event culminated with a large raffle of bikes, prizes, and turkey dinner meal.
1/7/20 – 1/8/20
AmeriCorps members were ready to start off the new year with reflection and some fun! EECO joined together for an overnight stay at the NJSOC for a mid year retreat. Members received training on professional development, planning for life after AmeriCorps and joined in on activities including smithmaking, rock painting and team building.
AmeriCorps members commemorated another Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Montclair State University. The Montclair State University, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Volunteer Center (VC), coordinate and host this service day in honor of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.’s lifelong dedication to justice, equality, and service for the greater good. Montclair State University students, faculty, staff, alumni,
and local community members are invited to serve in the Montclair community and surrounding areas. Volunteers arrived at the Student Center Cafeteria, where t-shirts are given out and breakfast is served, and afterward, they are dismissed to their service site. Members participated at 17 service sites off campus and completed service on campus.
EECO AmeriCorps at the Orange Community School are always busy providing service. During Orange’s winter break week when the students and teachers are dismissed, the 12 members in Orange meet to complete service at various service sites in New Jersey. During this winter break week, members completed service at Canterbury Village in West Orange, St. Peter’s Haven in Clifton, Cerebral Palsy Center in Livingston, and the Community Food Bank in Hillside. Members completed food preparation and food packaging for pick up at the food banks, provided data entry and support to the Cerebral Palsy Center, and spent the day entertaining residents with games and activities at the Canterbury Village Senior Living center.