Thanks to AmeriCorps CBPYT member Leo for all the photography that’s been showcased on the blog! Keep an eye out for more to come.
If you have any pictures that would look great on the blog, please email them to email@example.com. Let’s make this a great showcase for CBPYT’s accomplishments and ideas this semester!
Last month, on October 5th, our whole program got up early in the morning and drove out past Golden to take part in a series of team-building exercises. Everybody had some great moments and we supported each other in overcoming our fears – specifically, acrophobia (fear of heights).
But first we had to overcome our fear of each other. Split up into two groups, and then again into two teams, we were pitted against each other in what seemed like a competition, but actually required us to cooperate in order to succeed. It involved wooden planks and patience/frustration, depending on your personality.
Then we got all tangled up in a rope and had to extricate ourselves.
There were multiple ropes courses we did after the beginning activities. The first one was the most basic: you climbed up a tall pole (with a harness on, of course) and jumped for a bar several feet away. There were two poles, one a little higher than the other. Some people needed more encouragement than others, but everyone was eventually able to climb the poles.
The second setup required one person to climb up the pole and wait up there while their partner climbed to join them. Then they jumped together for a bar that was excessively far away. The third and final setup had multiple options. They were something like the jungle gym sets at a playground; one was a balancing act with a partner, while the others required you to use your body weight as momentum to swing across to the other side.
It’s hard to believe that this happened over a month ago, and that we have all known each other for barely over 2 months. The 11 months are going by very quickly, but strong connections have already been made.
At the end of the day we thanked our guides Lesley, Matt, and Brian (some awesome folks from the Parks Department), took a few team photos, and drove back to Denver in a sleepy haze, ready for a big lunch and maybe an afternoon nap.
CBPYT has 3 members serving at Urban Peak’s downtown location on 2100 Stout St. This month they wrote about the services Urban Peak provides to youth and the responsibilities of their positions. Check it out!
Jake Kosinski — GED Counselor at Education & Employment
The GED Team at Urban Peak includes the Americorps CBPYT Member, a full-time volunteer named Jake Rodriguez from Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, and our supervisor Sarah Ault. Urban Peak GED maintains a drop-in classroom open five days a week. Instead of having traditional classes with required times of attendance, most teaching is done one-on-one or in small groups and each student commits to a schedule that fits his or her needs. The classroom hosts many tutors from other organizations and area universities. We also help with students’ educational goals more generally; for example, helping them re-enroll in high school if that is still a possibility, getting them test vouchers and school supplies, and connecting them with other Urban Peak services like housing or job programs. Urban Peak has many programs and facets and one of my favorite things about serving here is learning about the various parts of the organization and seeing how they interact. There are several full-time volunteers serving at UP and a lot of AmeriCorps alumni on staff which makes for a very friendly atmosphere. The office and classroom are going to be very busy until and through the end of the year, because the GED test is changing radically in 2014 and students who don’t complete all five subject tests before January will have all their progress erased. The new GED will only have 4 subtests (Reading and Writing will be merged), it will be 100% computer-based, and if the sample questions released so far are any indication, it will be a good amount more difficult than the current version of the test. Right now GED is focusing heavily on graduating students who are partially finished, but in January, the focus will switch to developing new curriculum and teaching methods for the new test.
Kelsey Antun — Life Skills Coach at Urban Peak’s Drop-In Center
Hello Witches, Wizards, Muggles, and Time-lords. My name is Kelsey and I am Urban Peak’s Drop-In Center’s newest AmeriCorps member/Life Skills Coach. Here at the Drop-In Center (DIC) we offer low barrier services to youth (15-24) who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. We serve breakfast every morning, Monday through Friday, showers, laundry, and different kinds of programming. We have classes that range from money management class, to recreation and yoga, jewelry-making and cooking. I love being here and love joking around with the youth! Urban Peak is exactly where I feel I am supposed to be.
Mary Yost — Case Manager at Education & Employment
I love being back at Urban Peak! I hit the ground running and have reconnected with many of the students on my caseload from last year. Our Education & Employment Department has also been referring students to the Summer Youth Employment Program, an opportunity offered through the Office of Economic Development (which runs through December 31, despite the name!). In this program, our students can secure a 160-hour paid work experience where they make $8.00 per hour. I am excited to continue hearing about our student’s experiences and to learn about the skills they acquire through their jobs!
In my position as an Education & Employment Counselor, my days at Urban Peak are filled with case management meetings, teaching during our Job Readiness Training class, assisting in the GED classroom, and spending time with incredible youth. The majority of my time is dedicated to Urban Peak’s Job Readiness Training (JRT) program. Below is the “Job Description” JRT students created that describes the program and what students can expect from their involvement with JRT:
Job Title: Job Readiness Training Student
Summary of JRT:
- JRT is designed to be a 22-day program that provides support to help students improve their job skills and develop new ones.
- Students are offered workshops that teach Money Management, Conflict Resolution, Résumé Writing, Goal Setting, Job Retention, Communication, and Interview Skills.
- Students develop a résumé, cover letter, practice their computer skills, and work on time management.
Qualifications to be a JRT Student:
- Willingness to learn and work hard to prepare for your job.
- Eagerness to learn new job skills and participate in class.
- Commitment to your future job plans and to our JRT program.
Responsibilities of a JRT Student:
- Punctuality—Our JRT program is from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Monday-Thursday. Our classroom opens at 9:30 a.m. so students can arrive early for class.
- Respect—A student must respect his or her peers and work.
- Dedication—JRT is a self-led program so it is the student’s responsibility to complete his or her work. Members of Urban Peak’s Education & Employment team are in the classroom every day to provide support to students.
- Focus—The JRT program is two hours per day so a student should use that time effectively to complete JRT in a timely manner.
- Professional Attitude—The classroom is treated as a professional environment and we expect students to act in a manner that reflects how they would act on the job.
Benefits of being a JRT Student:
- Students who work hard, are dedicated, are respectful, and show a commitment to their JRT work can earn a job referral from Urban Peak’s Education & Employment team!
- A JRT graduate earns a gift card, a haircut voucher, and a referral for professional clothing. Graduating is a big accomplishment and we want to celebrate your success!
Check back next month for a new Spotlight on another CBPYT service site!
AmeriCorps CBPYT members have been using their free time to explore Colorado together. Check out these pictures from some of our outings!
AmeriCorps CBPYT members at Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, CO.
Julie, Maria, and Abigail at the top of Mount Bierstadt – getting a 14′er in before it got too cold & snowy!
The National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in Washington, D.C. was an incredible experience! It was inspiring to see more than 4,000 AmeriCorps members and service leaders from across the country and world at the conference. My four days at the conference were spent brainstorming, listening to incredible stories, learning new project ideas to implement in our Urban Peak classroom, and forming new friendships with service leaders. I attended a handful of sessions on empowering youth through volunteering and how to get youth engaged with their community. I am excited to apply these ideas to our Job Readiness Training volunteer experiences so that our youth will see these experiences through a different lens. One of my favorite sessions was “Mission Planning Guide: Because Service is Power.” In that session we discussed how to encourage youth to link their passions with their spark to make a positive difference in their communities. Even though the formula seems very intuitive and simple, it was exciting to discuss how to apply this strategy to planning service projects for youth and how to empower youth to combine their passions and sparks to create their own projects. You can find the link to YSA’s Mission Planning Guide here: http://bit.ly/1272mM7
One of the highlights of the trip was running with Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that sees running as a way to help people experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. The program’s success is measured by how many members achieve independence through employment and housing. On Saturday, June 22, we joined the D.C. Back on My Feet Chapter for their group run. That Saturday was the first day of the marathon and half-marathon training series for the group and about 15 men showed up bright and early to run from Union Station. We ran with the half-marathon runners and did a 4-mile loop from Union Station to the White House and back. It was awesome to see the camaraderie among the men and the competitive spirit that exists between the members. It was also inspiring to hear how the program impacts the men’s lives and how running has given them the confidence they need to realize they can achieve their personal goals and become self-sufficient.
I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend the National Conference and am excited to implement the news ideas I learned into my work at Urban Peak!
By the end of the day, my lower back hurt, I had blisters on my hands, and I wondered how Libby, the horticulturist from whom we’d been taking our instructions, stayed so incredibly upbeat all the time. Ok…that’s too whiney because I had a lovely day serving at the Denver Botanic Gardens. But for real, I’m so glad I don’t live in the era of my Swedish farming ancestors, growing my food in order to survive; natural selection would not have been kind.
I volunteered to be in the vegetable garden group, a title that spurred visions of Beatrix Potter stories. (Note- whenever you think you’re signing up for the best/ easiest/ most charming job, you’re probably not). In fact, this group was responsible for tilling a fairly formidable patch of concrete/ dirt/ former graveyard with pickaxes. Needless to say, Lauren and I got closer to perfecting our Michelle Obama arms. Groups of children on field trips stopped to ask us
“What are you going to plant here?”
“Vegetables! What kind do you think we should plant?!”
The elementary students of Denver voted resoundingly for carrots. In keeping with my early morning hopes, Peter Rabbit would be delighted.
-Annalise Everett, CBPYT member placed at Chafee Services
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) celebrates and mobilizes the millions of young people who improve their communities each day of the year through service. Established in 1988, Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world, and the only day of service dedicated to children and youth. In the 25 years of existence, over 20 million youth have participated.
GYSD is celebrated each year in over 100 countries, with young people working together–and with schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, national service programs, government agencies, and adult mentors– to address the world’s most critical issues and change their communities.
The 20 members of CBPYT celebrated GYSD throughout the months of March and April with an event to celebrate our efforts on Global Youth Service Day, April 26, 2013. Over the several sites which we serve at, there were service learning projects that ran the gamut. Various projects such as volunteering with youth in the community, movie screenings and discussions, fundraising events and interactive events such as making blankets, donating cans, and a school grounds clean up enabled Denver youth to engage in their community and see that it is very simple to make a difference.
On Global Youth Service Day, posters that youth from each host site designed showcasing their community service efforts lined the walls at the Rude Rec Center. A photo booth and jammin’ playlist encouraged the celebration and acknowledgement of service that had been done over the months. Pizza from Pasquini’s, and mini cupcakes from Happy Cakes were earned when two of the three service projects were completed, even though the enthusiastic attendees hopped from table to table interacting with each service project. Three interactive service projects were held at the event to continue motivating and connecting youth. The three projects were; filling bags of beans and lentils for refugees arriving at the African Community Center, constructing pinwheels to spread awareness for National Child Abuse Awareness Month, and writing thank you letters to military men and women through A Million Thanks. With over 60 youth and community members attending, the celebration was a hit. On GYSD, CBPYT engaged 36 brand new volunteers and served 72 hours of service! It was very moving to see the youth, from sites where CBPYT AmeriCorps members are serving, have such excitement for completing service and acknowledging others in their efforts. Over the six weeks of service projects, CBPYT AmeriCorps worked with 630 volunteers and served over 1927 hours.
-Stephanie Grover, CBPYT member placed at Chafee Services
AmeriCorps Member Recruitment for 2013-2014 has begun!
Are you looking to serve your community? CBPYT is currently accepting applications for 2013-2014 AmeriCorps Members.
CBPYT members serve youth through the development of life skills in areas such as education, employment, housing, personal finance, cooking, personal care, healthy relationships and much more. Through one on one mentoring, group facilitation, program development and service learning projects CBPYT members serve Colorado youth 15-22.
For details and benefits of service visit our Now Hiring Page
All position descriptions and applications can be found at AmeriCorps.gov by searching for Program Name: CBPYT
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is the largest service event in the world and the only one that celebrates the amazing work young people do to improve communities. Focusing on hunger and poverty, juniors and seniors began their participation in GYSD by hearing a speaker from Denver’s Road Home. Students were highly engaged, asking questions as well as providing great comments. After discussing hunger and poverty, students went out to better their communities.
For the first project, students decorated brown paper bags used by Project Angel Heart to deliver nutritious meals to terminally ill people in the Denver Metro area. On the bags, students used their artistic skills to draw beautiful pictures, as well as write inspiring messages. Students and even a few staff decorated a total of 50 bags front and bag! That’s 50 people who will have a smile on their face when their meal is delivered.
The second service project, juniors and seniors spent a few hours at the Food Bank of the Rockies. That morning, 37 students and staff board the bus, excited to serve. While at the food bank, the girls did wonderful work. One group put large pallets of food together, others broke down boxes for recycling, another group put together boxes, and finally one group filled boxes with food in an assembly line. As I walked around to snap pictures of the girls in action, everyone was having a great time. After being able to impact hundreds of families, one student described her experience as this, “ While packing boxes with food it made me feel happy that a child would be getting this food and that his mom wouldn’t have to worry for at least a little while about putting food on the table. I know that I have gone a few days without eating so that my son would have food, so it felt nice to do this for other families.” – Rachelle S.
–Helen Toma, CBPYT member placed at Florence Crittenton High School