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Getting Things Done For Ohio

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Every day, Ohioans are making extraordinary contributions to the communities where they live, work, and play. Learn more about the impact AmeriCorps members and volunteers have on the communities they serve, stay current on service and volunteerism trends, and be the first to know about upcoming funding opportunities, events, and special initiatives.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on service and the communities in which AmeriCorps members serve. Many members have shifted their efforts to comply with the stay-at-home restrictions, including Barbara Hamilton-Mbambara. Currently serving in Parma Heights, Barbara shares about her experience as an elementary school tutor and how she has adapted her service to follow current health and safety guidelines.  

Question: Where do you serve?

Answer: I serve with Ohio Reading Corps at Pearl Road Elementary School in Parma Heights, Ohio.

Q: What do you do in this role?

A: I serve as a tutor for K-3rd grade.

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted the community you serve?

A: Due to COVID-19, schools have closed for the duration of the year, causing me to serve remotely from home.

Q: How has COVID-19 changed the way you serve? How have you adapted your efforts to comply with restrictions due to the virus?

A: I have been at home reading, doing webinars, Zoom meetings, and online trainings. None of which included seeing my “friends,” as they are so dearly referred to, by the staff at the school where I serve. I have missed not being able to be with them at school. As I pondered how I could possibly get to see them during this pandemic, I thought of the remaining books that I have that were given out to each member at the beginning of the school year. I decided I could deliver the books to each of my 29 friends!

Once I received permission from my program directors, the schools’ leadership and the students' parents, I was excited to begin this journey. What a blessing it was to pray for each package, as I wrapped them, using their favorite color tissue paper and stickers. I had to follow certain rules and take precautions, such as sending detailed emails to parents, disinfecting the books, putting the books into plastic bags and not entering their homes. I also followed the CDC’s recommendation of wearing a mask and the social distancing order. I had no direct contact with anyone. Instead, I hung the bag on the doorknob, rang the doorbell, then proceeded to my car to wait for someone to answer. I have completed two rounds of deliveries to date, and it has brought me so much joy that I can’t fully explain in words.

Q: What does it mean to you to serve your community during this time?

A: It means getting things done, and if that requires making an extra effort, I am willing to go the extra mile. It also means remembering that every child should know some joy in each day, and if I can play a small part in bringing some joy, then my service is complete.

Q: How has serving as an AmeriCorps member impacted your life?

A: Serving as an AmeriCorps member has shown me how closely knit a team of people can be. I am so thankful for this opportunity that I was given.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about your experience?

A: Besides working with the students, I have enjoyed being a part of Elyse’s team (my program director). She is passionate about what she does, and I am appreciative of her guidance and leadership.

Q: Can you share a memorable moment from your service experience? What made it so memorable?

A: I have a few of these, but I’ll just share one for now. One day while I was with a group of my 2nd grade friends, one of my kindergarten friends, who had been diligently working on being a part of the 100 club in her classroom, came to tell me that she made it. I was so happy for her! This was memorable for me because she chose to come and tell me outside of the time that I pull her for tutoring, and that blessed my heart. 

Q: Would you recommend joining AmeriCorps to your peers? Why or why not?

A: I most certainly would, and I have already done so. I would like for my peers to experience the camaraderie that I’ve experienced as a member, and the joy that comes with serving children.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am looking forward to continuing in a capacity that will allow me to serve young children.



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