Unification News for June 2005

Wet and Wonderful: Advanced SFP Training in Seattle

In our ongoing effort to identify and mentor a new generation of "Peacemakers," Larry Krishnek, the director of SFP Bellingham, Washington, recently organized a three week advanced program in the Seattle area . The goal was to get steeped in an environment of service for an extended time period. Jesse Rueter and Monique Timms arrived from Berkeley , Josh Frumin came from Chicago , Adiella Abelseth bussed down from Vancouver BC and Leighton DeGoede, a local guy, completed our team.

Our calendar was full of opportunities designed to help us recognize the value of SFP in a variety of settings. The program schedule called for three general areas of experience:

The first is the college campus. Most of our volunteers' courses will lead them directly to campus. So, we wanted to learn how service plays a role on campus through meeting and working with members of the Service for Peace club on the University of Washington .

The second area is that of partnering with like-minded organizations and individuals. Dr. David Burgess, AFC Regional Director and Regional Service for Peace coordinator, arranged for us to meet, learn about and work with local agencies. We spent one day with the "Chore" program of Catholic Community Services .

Our team did a thorough yard clean up for a lady suffering from MS. One morning was spent with the Atlantic Street Center tutoring kindergarteners from at-risk families. We worked at the Danny Woo Urban Gardens and learned about the benefit of these small plots to the low income elderly who depend on them. Our first Saturday was spent helping to upgrade the facilities of a YMCA center. Dr. Burgess also introduced us to the Service Learning curriculum of SFP.

The third was to learn to identify opportunities for service wherever they present themselves within a persons' community.

The community knew we were there to serve and that we expected them to call on us, which they did. We helped to coordinate, prepare for and staff two local events. We were always on hand to help improve the facility that was hosting us which included landscaping work and interior renovations. In turn, we received a lot of support in the form of manpower for our final project, and some financial support.

The Carkeek Park project was the Final Exam for the participants. They had to identify, plan and implement a service project for Saturday, March 29, the last full day of the schedule. The goal was to make it a true learning experience, which means we had to be sure to have a good pre program with goal setting, and post program with an opportunity for the volunteers to reflect on their experience.

The outcome was great. Monique Timms was elected to be our Project coordinator. She arranged for an environmental project at beautiful Carkeek Park , bordering Puget sound . Our job was to remove some invasive plants, English Ivy, and do some trail maintenance work. Although Seattle has been experiencing some wonderful weather Ð all of our rain seems to have gone to California Ð we knew that rain is attracted to volunteers working outdoors. So, we weren't surprised when the forecast grew darker and wetter day by day.

Our biggest concern was that if it was too wet, then we would not be able to have an effective reflection period at the end without some cover. Those of us from Seattle had vivid memories of the record rains that welcomed us for MLK Day and knew what the challenges were; soaking wet people don't mix well will pencil and paper, so we had to find a solution.

Despite strong opinions and last minute tension, teamwork prevailed. We came up with a plan in the form of a huge 20 x 40 foot tent. Long story short: the day was great.

The Carkeek's volunteer coordinator, Nancie Jarmillo, was amazed with our team and told them all that this was the best teen volunteer group she had ever worked with. A group of adult volunteers, who were initially apprehensive about the potential for havoc presented by 35 teens, gave positive feedback to Nancie as well.

We worked hard, didn't get too wet, had a great reflection at the end and then stuffed ourselves with all the goodies that out team had gotten donated for the day: Pizza hut, Quizno's subs, Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate, cookies, donuts, juice, and more. Then the younger folks and those with no good sense joined in a game of capture the flag, which assured that any dry spots of clothing would get a final soaking.

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