AmeriCorps Service Week 2021: Day 5

We’ve reached the final day of AmeriCorps Week! To end the week with a bang we partnered with Unidos Por La Musica. This non-profit organization based in San Bernardino is a mobile food pantry. For today’s event, we did a drive-thru event, giving each family a box full of groceries. Each box included meat, milk, cheese, celery, apples, potatoes, and rice. First 5 Service Corps members Tania Linares, Saryna Lopez, and Jessica Pinto volunteered with Arrowhead United Way to help give out the food items, direct traffic, and set-up/break-down of event. It was such an amazing and rewarding experience to see families so thankful for the food they were given, especially during such a difficult time. We appreciate the team effort that went into today’s event, and enjoyed addressing the food insecurities within the community.

AmeriCorps Service Week 2021: Day 4

Happy 4th day of AmeriCorps Week! With the partnership of Mary’s Mercy Center, today’s event focused on food insecurity in San Bernardino. This organization is not only a shelter for the houseless community, but they provide hot cooked meals, showers, clothes, and bathrooms for other individuals experiencing houselessness. AmeriCorps team members Jessica Pinto, Tania Linares, and Saryna Lopez helped contribute to the preparation, making, and passing out of the “lunch bags.” Each lunch bag consisted of a water bottle, fruit, main food entree, salad, vegetables, bread, and dessert. Beginning at 8am, the AmeriCorps team started helping cook the main entrees- which ranged from pizza, potatoes/egg scramble, salad. Once the food was finished cooking, we then helped package them individually in foil wrap. After all the food was prepared and packaged, then an assembly line was formed to place each item in each lunch bag. In total over 100 lunch bags were contributed. At around 11:30am, we went downstairs to begin the process of handing out the lunch bags to the public. Individuals were given a space to eat their food at outside if they chose to, or they could take their food to go. They were also allowed to receive multiple lunch bags, allowing them to save food for tomorrow because the center is closed on Fridays. Today’s day of service was very rewarding, and we enjoyed giving back to those in need!

AmeriCorps Service Week 2021: Day 3

Happy 3rd day of AmeriCorps Week! For today’s event, AmeriCorps team members Saryna Lopez, Jessica Pinto, and Tania Linares volunteered at Music Changing Lives in San Bernardino. This organization held a food drive event for the community, and the First 5 Service Corps members contributed to the preparation and facilitation of this event. Beginning at 6am, the AmeriCorps team started separating ripe from rotten food items on pallets, and transferring them to bags for each car/family. Once the drive thru event began at 8am, an assembly line commenced with each car stopping at each station to receive a bag of food. 1 bag of each food was given per family, but if a car was responsible for multiple families, then multiple bags were given. Each family received milk, celery, asparagus, jicama, tomatillos, broccoli, grapes, cauliflower, squash, and a safety sanitation care package. In total, the event allowed the distribution of over 20,000 pounds of food! Today’s day of service allowed the AmeriCorps team to partner with Music Changing Lives, focusing on food insecurity in the community and giving food staples to those in need free of cost. 

AmeriCorps Service Week 2021: Day 2

Happy 2nd day of AmeriCorps Week! First 5 Service Corps members Tania Linares, Saryna Lopez, and Jessica Pinto volunteered at Lutheran Mission Church. This social services organization is dedicated to reintegrating individuals experiencing houselessness into the community through job readiness trainings, financial literacy, mock interviews, and more. The AmeriCorps team focused on reorganizing the clothes closet that the Lutheran Mission Church has available for their homeless shelter. The team went through over 400 clothing items, placing them in order according to their size. In addition to this process, clothing donations were separated from those that the church could salvage with those that were non-salvageable. Today’s day of service allowed the AmeriCorps team to partner with the Lutheran Mission Church, ultimately allowing their members to have access to an orderly fashioned and functioning clothes closet. 

AmeriCorps Service Week 2021: Day 1

AmeriCorps Service Week has begun! First 5 Service Corps San Bernardino has chosen to dedicate this week of service to the “Week of the Young.” For the first day of AmeriCorps week, AmeriCorps members volunteered at Arrowhead United Way, in preparation for the mobile food pantry & food distribution event this Friday. Jessica Pinto, Tania Linares, and Saryna Lopez packaged hand sanitizers, masks, and resource flyers into ziploc bags for the community. Over 120 sanitation kits with these materials were prepared! In addition, the AmeriCorps team created posters, engaging the public through words such as “Welcome” to “Sanitation Kits Available Here.” Today’s day of service allowed the AmeriCorps team to partner with Arrowhead United Way, joining forces to have a greater impact in the preparation and facilitation of the upcoming event.

Response to COVID-19: Crisistextline

There has been a surge of mental health awareness from the pandemic creating quarantine regulations and social distancing measures. People’s routines, schedules, expectations, habits, accustomed ways of living were abruptly changed without any cause of warning or permission- which understandably creates anxiety. In response to these events, First 5 Service Corps member, Saryna Lopez, has taken the initiative by volunteering for crisistextline.org. This organization offers mental health support through a virtual format, allowing individuals that are going through any sort of crisis to receive assistance from a certified crisis counselor. Saryna volunteers on a weekly basis, with services ranging from providing a listening ear for those who just need to vent, to providing referrals to texters that are in need of more long-term support. While help may look different for every texter, the goal of crisistextline.org interactions is to help the texter help themselves. 

Response to COVID-19: Arrowhead United Way

First 5 Service Corps members, Jessica Pinto and Tania Linares, have responded to the need for community service during COVID-19 by volunteering at Arrowhead United Way. Through their work at this non-profit organization, Jessica and Tania have been tasked with the separation, organization, and distribution of clothes. Following social distancing guidelines and mask requirements, our team members go through boxes and boxes of clothes and identify which clothes go into certain categories- based on age, size, gender, and items. Through the facilitation of this process, it creates a solid system that Arrowhead United Way can then use to provide clothes in a timely and effective manner. They have been able to donate boxes of clothes to churches, shelters, and Goodwills around the local area of San Bernardino. We applaud Jessica and Tania for their hard work- constantly showing up on a monthly basis to support the need for clothing during a pandemic.

Response to COVID-19: Meals on Wheels

In response to COVID-19, Jessica Pinto, a First 5 Service Corps team member, has been committed to helping the community of VictorVille through volunteering for Meals on Wheels. This program provides free food delivery services for senior citizens. Before the pandemic, this program focused on senior citizens who couldn’t get out or couldn’t cook due to physical disabilities; however once the pandemic started, Meals on Wheels expanded its services to all senior citizens. This was a major shift in the inclusivity of their program, because senior citizens are a very vulnerable population in regards to COVID-19 dissemination. Jessica’s volunteer service has helped ensure that senior citizens can stay in the comfort of their home, safe from the pandemic, and still receive their basic food necessities. Jessica serves around 10 meals through car delivery every week, providing frozen food meals, bread, milk, and pudding. We applaud Jessica for her continued efforts and dedication to serve VictorVille Meals on Wheels- as helping underserved communities is the true meaning of being an AmeriCorps member.

Distance Learning

Teaching during a pandemic has challenged the First 5 San Bernardino Service Corps team in new ways. Through this virtual format, our team has had to think outside of the box and brainstorm new ways to engage our students. While there are undoubtedly obstacles that have come our way through distance learning, being able to be a constant support for our students has made the biggest difference for them! We have seen a new side to our students that we have not previously seen when working at the site- being able to interact via zoom has allowed us to get more personal and intimate by seeing the home environment. Our students are able to show us their family, where they live, and what their home looks like. It is safe to say that zoom brings a new, unprecedented aspect into teaching that we never expected- and that is being able to see our students in their environment. Seeing a student in their environment not only creates a better connection, but it allows them to take center stage and show us, the teachers, what being in their wold is like. For many of our students, that means showing us their pets, stuffed animals, and favorite toys. Our students have made great adjustments and adaptations to distance learning! While we acknowledge that there is no substitute for in-person instruction, these new times have given us a new glimpse into our students’ life that we have not seen before.

Trunk-or-Treat Event

First 5 San Bernardino/AmeriCorps joined forces with Arrowhead United Way to put together a Trunk or Treat event for the community. In compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, this drive-thru event allowed children to celebrate Halloween through the safety of trick-or-treating in their vehicle with masks and social distancing. The parade had cars fully loaded with families dressed up in costumes to spread the Halloween spirit. Families were able to enjoy the parade with Halloween music, decorations, and Kinder Kits for their children. The First 5 Service Corps team handed out books, home school supplies (scissors, glue, pencil box, eraser, crayons, etc.), and snacks in our Trick-or-Treat goody bags and Distance Learning Kinder Kits. The Trunk or Treat event had a great turnout and it was a great way to get the community involved safely during the pandemic.