On November 3rd and 4th, Arizona Serve Staff and 11 AmeriCorps VISTA and State members had the opportunity to attend the 2016 AZ Summit on Volunteerism and Civic Engagement. Here, Arizona Serve staff and members had the opportunity to network with other AmeriCorps members, nonprofit professionals and community leaders, attend workshops on topics such as mobilizing volunteers and grant writing and engage in depth discussions about the meaning of national service.
Megan McNelis, AmeriCorps VISTA at JTED, Camille Corsino, AmeriCorps VISTA at Santa Rita High School and Johanna Duffek, AmeriCorps State member at Tucson Urban League shared their experiences with us:
The opportunity to attend the Arizona Summit for Volunteerism and Civic Engagement was something to which I had been looking forward for over a month, and I was certainly not disappointed. The keynote speakers and the presenters for the breakout sessions were highly knowledgeable professionals who shared their expertise on highly relevant topics relating to volunteerism, especially in the area of volunteer management. Though the topics were not necessarily applicable to my particular project site, I found the sessions I attended to be very informative, and I feel like my knowledge base and understanding of volunteerism and nonprofit work have grown significantly.
The most exciting and enjoyable part of the summit was the chance to network with volunteers and civic-minded professionals from all walks of life and observe the impact of their service on their respective communities. A large percentage of the attendees were AmeriCorps members of my generation and it was highly motivating to hear about their experiences and to envision their futures as they shape their careers through service.
I am humbled and grateful to AZ Serve and our state office for allowing me to take part, and would like to attend the summit again, if I have the chance.
By Megan McNelis, AmeriCorps VISTA with Pima County JTED
My name is Camille Corsino and I was one of the Arizona Serve AmeriCorps members to go to the Summit on Volunteerism and Civic Engagement. It was a rewarding experience. Some of my workshops revolved around service-learning, my favorite of them being "Discover a world of engagement! Come Explore Civic Engagement and Service-Learning". It really clarified the difference and the connection between the two. Because of this experience I can bring back valuable guidelines to improve my site's current structure for service-learning and making sure it accomplishes its purpose. I also really enjoyed "Inspiring Volunteer Retention through Dynamic Budget-Friendly Recognition" where I collected great ideas to motivate volunteers. We are hoping to begin implementing these strategies very soon among parent volunteers to boost their desire to stay engaged. And last I'd like to mention the workshop "Power up! Building Teen Leadership in your Community" which really put into perspective who today's teens are and what should be considered in order to not only keep them interested, but also for our efforts to be relevant in their context. I'm glad I had the opportunity to participate in this Summit and hope more relevant and useful topics appear in next year's.
By Camille Corsino, AmeriCorps VISTA with the Community Schools Initiative serving at Santa Rita High School
My experience at the Summit was wonderful. I have been involved with the Summit since its beginning and I presented at it 3 times. To watch it grow into what it has become is so gratifying. The workshop I got the most out of concerned corporate volunteering, and the team from Salt River Project was well prepared. They explained about their program, but also about how to approach other companies with similar programs and how they can help our work. Against my first impression the sixth and final workshop really had a lot to offer. It was the end of the day, we were tired and the class began as a very esoteric discussion, however, it turned out to be just what I needed to end the conference.
As good as the workshops and the speakers were, my favorite part was getting to know my fellow AmeriCorps members better.
By Johanna Duffek, AmeriCorps State Member at Tucson Urban League