By Janine Baeza
When a partnership fell through, all spring break plans for the Youth Navigators at EMBARC's Waterloo office were canceled last minute. We knew that it wasn’t an option to leave things in that state and tell the youth we no longer would have anything for them to do. Instead, I worked with a
couple of my team members to plan events for spring break all in one day. Beca and I organized the activities, Jarye asked for donations, and Joana spread the word to the youth.
Tuesday we volunteered at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and visited Allen Women’s Health Clinic. Many of the Youth Navigators had been to the food bank before so they were very familiar with the work done there. Together we packed over 1,000 backpack lunches that day and they still had plenty of energy to ask questions and engage at the clinic.
Wednesday we took a trip to Iowa City to visit the University of Iowa Museum of Natural Science and History. The youth loved exploring the museum’s different exhibits and learning about animals and organisms that used to live here in Iowa. Afterward we had time to explore the campus a bit and have a picnic at a nearby park before heading back to Waterloo.
Thursday was a great opportunity for the Youth Navigators to learn more about higher education when we visited Wartburg College. Most students have visited other local schools such as University of Northern Iowa or Hawkeye Community College, but there had been less opportunities for them to visit private schools and learn about that college experience. After our visit and lunch, we went to see the movie A Wrinkle in Time.
Friday was another day of service and fun. We started the day by painting at the new House of Hope location for a few hours. After eating pizza, we ended the day by going ice skating at Young Arena.
As I drove one of the Navigators home Friday afternoon, she told me that she was sad the week was over because she had so much fun. There are moments when you know you’ve made a difference and that was one for me.
About the Blog
The service members of RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps have compiled stories of success during their membership. This blog was created with the intent of sharing these valuable stories with the public.