Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mini spike day 3

Today we had to get up and pack all of our things up because another NCCC group was coming in to work for the weekend. We packed the van, cleaned the building, and waited for the next group to come before we headed out to the worksite. Unfortunately, they got stuck in the snow so we waited a little longer than we would have preferred. We all just wanted to start work for the day. We finally left without them and headed toward the house.

Nahant Marsh Education Center is right in front of railroad tracks so almost every time we would go to or from the job site we would have to wait at least 15 minutes for a train to pass. Sometimes, the train would be stopped blocking the tracks so that took even longer. Thankfully our team is getting used to each other so sitting in a van hasn't been and issue yet. We will see how the opinion changes throughout the months.

At the worksite, I started working in the living room where my teammates took out the ceiling. After all our tools were set up, which I've learned, usually takes quite a bit of time if your working will skilled carpenters, which we are. :) I worked on this for the whole entire day. Other jobs that my team members started/completed were, tearing out the toilet, tearing and scraping the shower/glue, tear drywall down on the stairwell, scrap, clean and started painting a bedroom upstairs and ripped down shelves and wiring in the barn. Wow! After writing all that, it just hit me how much we did today!! Amazing at how much you can get done with so many people.

After lunch the other team was done with orientation and "unpacking" so they came to the job site. We worked with them for about an hour to give them an idea of what each position did and then Cedar 6, my team, headed back for debriefing with the sponsor. After that, we headed back to campus with me driving the van!! Scary I know, but we made it back safe and sound. Of course we had to stop at the worlds largest truck stop for some caffeine and a potty break!! Let me tell you, this place is huge! Rumor has it, they have a movie theater, barber shop and a chiropractor on the upstairs level.

Fun things that happened:
-I saw several people wear carhartt overalls and my sponsor even wore the fashionable jean overalls. I'm thinking of adopting the carhartt look... :)
-Every time we would try to leave the project site, the van wheels would start spinning in the snow. Even with all the weight of people, it still wouldn't get enough traction. Surprisingly we only had to push the van out only once.
-The cots we slept on were so loud, every time someone would move, it sounded like we were rolling over on a huge price of bubble wrap!
-We played 2 truths and 1 lie. It was really fun to get to know my team more and listen to their fun and crazy life stories.
-Our job site had a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River and a blue bridge.

This spike has really brought my team together and I can't wait to start on our next project. It is going to be so nice to be able to complete our projects and see the final results of our hard work. Prayers for being able to make it through our last week of classroom training.

Love and miss you all!!!

Mini spike day 2

Lets see, today I worked on tearing more drywall which was the roof of a barn. But of course, like every other barn in the world, it was full of stuff. Before the demo started, we moved 350 pounds of electronics and donated it to a recycling place, and also donated a trailer full of furniture to Habitat for Humanity. Everything we had to move, was going to stay in the barn so we had to put everything on one side, tear down the drywall, clean it up, move everything to the other side, tear down the drywall and clean it up again. Some of the things we had to move were filing cabinets, a water heater, and a huge solar panel thing. But we didn't just move those across the barn, we moved them into the basement of the house. Thankfully they are not too far away and no steps were involved but we had to figure out the best and most efficient way to move these awkward things. Yesterday, some of my team had removed 1000 pounds of scrap metal out the the same barn. This took up my day as well as delivering the donations to their various locations. I enjoyed the break in work cause I got a little tour of Davenport. My teammate Kelli and I also got to sport our coveralls in Menards. Davenport reminds me a little of downtown Grand Rapids. Is a bigger city but just drive a little bit and you'll be in country.

My teammates finished up tearing down the cement ceiling in the living room of the house, and finished building bunk bed shelves. Some also had to walk a trail to haul some fallen trees off of the path. Other than that, most of our time was spent in the barn.

Of course, since this is a wild life/nature area, there are taxidermy animals all over this place. In one room alone, which the boys are sleeping in, I think we counted over 30.There is also live turtles swimming around and a live snake that thankfully, we are not allowed to take out!

After work we had dinner, team time, worked on some paper work, and then played some good old fashioned cards!

The house we are working on faces the Mississippi River so we have a gorgeous view. The picture just doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mini spike day 1

Today was my first day of our mini spike. It started off at 4:45 to finish loading up the van to drive to davenport Iowa. It is about 2 hours from Vinton, so we had to leave early in order to be to our location at 8:30 to start working. Thankfully sleeping in the car has never been difficult for me so I got a little more sleep.

For the 3 days, we will be working at Nahant Marsh. Because it snowed several inches today, we can't work in the actual marsh but are working on a house that the marsh owns nearby. This house is about 100 years old and is in need of a lot of work. Today, I worked in the kitchen area taking down cabinets, ripping out drywall, and taking down insulation. Oh and I also cleaned out a tiny little furnace closet that will eventually be re-dry walled. It went really good and was excited to do some demo with the drywall in the kitchen. :) Some of my other team members worked on making shelves for storage, cleaned out the garage, tore out several layers of carpet and tile, and started to demo the living room ceiling.

After our work day, we made dinner, set up are extremely loud cots and watched a movie. Other than a toilet overflowing, it was a pretty relaxing evening.

This was definitely an awesome change from sitting in a classroom for 2 weeks. I'm excited for what the future, more long term projects will bring.

The picture is of me in my PPE (personal protective equipment). I had to wear this all day do to mold and other things we shouldn't inhale. :/

Sunday, February 24, 2013


After working on Saturday, I walked to McDonald's with a team member and then had a relaxing evening. Today we got to actually sleep in. Not like sleeping in until 8, which has definitely become a luxury but I slept until 10 am!! We made a trip into target to get some essentials, which included Starbucks, of course! When we returned, we walked to Tootsies, to get some lunch and now we are just chilling back at the campus.

The picture is of my team all decked out in our coveralls. We were doing tool training and also learned about service learning when we are on spike.

I thought I would share the AmeriCorps pledge that we say on a weekly basis. Here it is:

The AmeriCorps Pledge

I will get things done for America -
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,
I will take action.

Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sick once again. :/

So this week has been both super fast and super slow. The first part of the week I was sick again. Had the flu and missed a day of Team Time. They traveled around Vinton and Cedar Rapids doing touristy things while I was laying in my bed sick. :( Thankfully I didn't have to make anything up and I am currently back to normal. Prayers for staying healthy the rest of the year.

The rest of the week we continued with more training which included CPR, First Aid, and AED training, Rep Role training, Safety Training, and I can't even remember all the other trainings that we had. By this time, they are all starting to blend together. I just can't wait until we actually start working with our hands!

The NCCC calls our service projects, "spikes" and next week we will be doing a mini 3 day spike/service project. We found out that information yesterday and we will be traveling 2 hours away to Davenport, Iowa. We will be doing environmental work at a Marsh for the 3 days such as building trails, building raised beds, painting/remodeling indoors! I am so excited!! This is one step closer to when we actually leave for our long spikes. We will be sleeping on cots in a room, I think somewhere in the buildings on the site, but I won't find out for sure until I get there!

PT hasn't been too brutal this week. We had to get up at 4:45 one morning to drive to the middle school, in the freezing cold, but we all managed to get up and rolling.

Other than more training, not much else has been happening. I don't have any fun pictures this week, sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day isn't too exciting. Just a couple more weeks and we will have all the skills to know for my adventures!

I can never remember all the things I do when I actually sit down to write my blogs so if you want to know specific things about my week or the AmeriCorps in general, let me know!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

More pictures

Here are some pictures from the last week. The group picture is my new group for the rest of the year. We visited a huge rocking chair! :) another one is me in my coveralls before changing a tire on our vans. And the last is me, David, and Devin at a Mexican restaurant last night!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Ok so I know I haven't updated in a while and I apoligize. This week has been pretty busy with training so I'll just summarize what I have done this week.

Its pretty chilly here, I would be able to handle the cold but the wind is killer! Everytime we walk somewhere we freeze our butts off and then start to sweat because we wear so many layers!! I'm sure I will learn how to better utilize my clothing.

We got our offical groups for the rest of the year so it has been a challenging and fun experience. We had to do a Ropes Course and we had many ups and downs. Even though it was frustrating at times, I think it was really beneficial for our team to get to know each other more. 

We learned all about the vans we will be driving by changing a tire, in coveralls, checking oil, and other basic car functions. I have completed the drivers training so I am now able to drive the 15 passenger vans across the country!! :) Watch out!! It's kinda like a semi but I'm sure I will manage with the help of my team members.

For the rest of the 10 months, each team member has a role that we will be in charge of. I am a Service Learning Initiator so I will be making connections as to why we are completing a project, what skills we may learn, and leading reflection activites for my team members.

On a lighter note, I have been spending lots of time laughing and laughing with my friends that I have made. Devin, my roomate, David and I have been enjoying our time people watching, eating, and complaining about PT (physical training). I swear my abs only hurt from laughing all the time and not PT. I'm so blessed to have made such good friends in such a short amount of time.

Well, I'm off to dinner! Again, sorry I haven't updated in a while and I will try to be better about it. I will post pictures of our adventures later. :)

Monday, February 11, 2013


The past couple of days have been a mixture of fun, and relaxing. This weekend consisted of driving 45 minutes to Cedar Rapids to go to target (super target=amazing), sleeping, church, yoga, sleep, hanging out, going to the town of Vinton, and sleeping. Can you tell I slept a lot this weekend?? :)

After training today, I found out my permanent team today. We were given an envelope with our names on it and had to go to our specific place on campus and waited for the rest of our team and eventually our team leader. This just made me super excited for what is to come. Not all people are happy with their team and I am very blessed to have a good group I individuals.

This week starts more intensive training. I'm not sure what that consists of yet but I know I will be doing some drivers training, and TB testing/ drug testing this week. As difficult as they may be, I am confident that I will pass all. :)

The picture today is a part of the campus. The whole campus is pretty old and under some construction.

Fun fact: Mary Engels from Little House on the Prairie attended school here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 8

Here our some fun pictures I took today. The campus we are staying at is a Braille and sight seeing institution and they have a museum on campus. The group I am with is a temporary group for the first part of training. We will get our permanent groups sometime next week.

The school was previously a home where the school kids would live at the school and have vocational training on top of normal schooling. There was a real woman skeleton that was part of the health portion of the school (picture shown).

Other than the museum tour, our day consisted of more meetings and filling out more information!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 6

Things that happened today:
-My roommate and I took a half hour to try and figure out how to put our hard hats together. Hilarious!!
-Our uniform pants are extremely big. They are men's sizes and they are defiantly not built right for me.
-I am feeling much better! Just a stuffy nose this afternoon.
-We had an ice cream social.

Other than that, not too much else happened today other than we had several meetings to start our training. All 270ish of us members all gathered in an auditorium all day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm here!!

I'm here in Vinton, Iowa!!! I took too tiny little planes one to Chicago and then to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After de-icing, turbulence, security, speed walking and waiting, I landed safe and sound at 8 am. We took a 30 min shuttle to the campus and I was one of the first 4 people there. We got all checked in, tried on all of our clothes, ie: coveralls, rain gear, boots, gloves, and many shirts and got our room assignments. We were in our rooms able to unpack our duffle bags probably by 9:30 am! From then on, we had free time to wait for everyone else to arrive. Thankfully I hung out with the people I arrived with. We were wandering around looking for stuff to do by 11am. We found a pool table and a couple other people that we were entertained by for a couple more hours.

After turkey sandwiches for lunch, I felt horrible. I think I came down with a fever and was experiencing flu symptoms. Thankfully since we didn't have anything else to do for the afternoon, I slept off the fever and felt much better by dinner. Unfortunately I still have a head cold and hope it will be gone sooner rather than later.

All the buildings on campus are connected by tunnels underground so we don't have to walk outside to go from one building to the other. Of course the wifi has to be at the total opposite end of the campus as my dorm area. This is either a good or bad thing I'm sure.

The evening consisted of a welcome for all the NCCC members and I finished unpacking. My roommate and I took a half hour to figure out how to put our hard hats together!!

Highlights for the day: an airport worker was sliding on the ice when guarding the plane backwards, I have a stylish new wardrobe, everyone here is sooooo friendly and super nice, especially my roommate and friend I met from this morning, I didn't break my back trying to carry my duffel bags and backpack, my planes landed safely, I have quite a journey ahead.

Pictures: One of the airplanes I took. Both were about this size. Me in the airport with my bag. And one with our red backpack, rain boots and sleeping bag. (This is the only bag we can take when we are traveling.

Monday, February 4, 2013

All packed

I am all packed in my military duffel bag and ready to start my adventure with the AmeriCorps. Mom and I spent Sunday packing and repacking so I could fit everything into my bag. It is definitely a heavy sack but we managed to cram in all the essentials!!