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December 2, 2011 / HandsOnCorps

Veteran’s Day

Getting to know my community has been great. We have been knitting, gardening, working at a homeless shelter, meeting local school leaders, and very dynamic community leaders. My days have never been boring and are always challenging.

Our Veterans Day work has been one of my favorite volunteer experiences we have been a part of so far. We worked on an event inMarinCityan underserved population where we have been working to improve our neighboring efforts. We were honored to be able to attend a parade and presentation that honors the Tuskegee Airmen. The original Tuskegee Airmen were some of the first black soldiers in theUSarmed forces. The airmen were the catalysts for the integration of theUSarmed forces. We were able to meet some of the airmen and were able to hear some of the experiences they had with segregation during WW II. I grew up my entire life hearing about their story and watching movies about the men. My father is a Gulf War veteran and had a 26 year long military career; it was an honor meeting the men who helped pave the way for my father. Being a part of the historic event and watching the community rally around the men and celebrate their accomplishments was heartening. We began the day setting up a parade and watching demonstrations by young marine recruits. As the parade participants were all ready to get set up it began to rain and the temperature dropped. Our center was nervous our volunteers wouldn’t show and the event organizers were afraid the event would not happen. Despite the cold and rain people began showing up to support the event and all of our volunteers arrived excited to be apart of the day. We participated in a community barbeque and got to see a lot of familiar faces throughout the day. We have been working hard to attend community meetings and network and meet people in this area, it’s exciting to know that we are building positive rapport and are building our neighboring initiative in the area. After the barbeque we heard a monologue from a young student about the struggles of his great grandfather who was an original Tuskegee Airmen. As the event continued we heard stories from friends and family of the airmen as well as the airmen themselves. We were able to meet with the airmen and thank them personally for their service and their struggle.

Our time on Veterans Day inMarin Citywas great. Getting to spend time with the community at this celebration was great for us because we were able to spend time with the community where we are able to bond over the accomplishment of the veterans who joined us as opposed to the missions of our organizations. We made a lot of wonderful contacts and were invited to be a part of the MLK day coalition. We are really making a lot of headway inMarinCityand we are hoping that in time we will have all of the necessary infrastructure in place to increase our neighboring work.

Ashley Kelly

HandsOn Corps VISTA, Center for Volunteer and Non profit Leadership

Marin County

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