EDMUNDS: Volunteers Making a Difference
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds visited Edmunds Elementary Monday afternoon to practice what she and Governor Terry Branstad are preaching.
Earlier in the day the state’s two chief executives had formally issued a “call to service” challenging all Iowans to volunteer at least 50 hours per year and boost us from #2 behind Utah in volunteerism per capita into the top spot by 2015.
After touring the school with Edmunds principal David Perrigo, Lt. Gov. Reynolds joined right in with one of art teacher David Borzo’s classes and a group of volunteers from AmeriCorps already at work creating posters in support of Iowa’s effort to become the most voluntary state in the country.
Eric Whitney is the District Volunteer Liaison for DMPS and he coordinated Monday’s event at Edmunds. Whitney oversees a staff of 15 AmeriCorps workers who serve primarily as literacy tutors in the schools. Those helping with the posters today at Edmunds were literally volunteering their free time in the spirit of the occasion.
Everybody there was like a pixel connecting with others to form a picture, in this case one of increased support for schools that benefits not just teachers and students but the entire community.
Bev Schroeder is one of those pixels. She is starting her third term with AmeriCorps after retiring from Senator Tom Harkin’s office in 2009. She remembers when AmeriCorps was created in the 1990’s and she viewed it from the bureaucratic perspective of her job in Washington. Now she sees it at point blank range every day and loves being one of the troops. Working with first graders last year at Phillips Traditional School she delighted at the rapport she established with kids over the course of the year and was gratified with the progress she saw them make with her help. She is also a volunteer with Everybody Wins Iowa, a program that provides mentors to read with kids for as little as 15 minutes at a time on a weekly basis throughout the school year.
“At first you don’t think 15 minutes can make a difference,” Schroeder said. “But the minutes add up. I always regretted not signing up for the Peace Corps when I was younger, but after I retired I discovered some great alternatives.”
Edmunds made the perfect metaphorical setting to celebrate a rise in school volunteerism. Right outside, the new Edmunds is rising next door. Ground was broken this summer and already the shell of the gymnasium is taking shape. No volunteers are required in the hard hat areas but if you’d like to discover other ways that you might lend a hand please contact Eric Whitney here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is part of ”Around the District in 180 Days,” a project by the DMPS Community Relations office to share stories about events, programs and people from each and every school in Des Moines during the 2012-13 school year.