by Sierra Baril
This year, AmeriCorps members and alums celebrated AmeriCorps Week March 9th – 17th. This annual event is an opportunity to not only thank these members and their partners but also to show the community what an important impact AmeriCorps has. The best way to get the word out there about KEYS Service Corps happens to be the way we celebrate most events – with service! There were many opportunities for members to serve a number of neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. We kicked off AmeriCorps Week with four service projects on Saturday, March 9th. Some members participated in a beautification project downtown, picking up trash and weeding. Others helped with a Habitat for Humanity project or the Garden Work Day at the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Community Garden of North Hills Community Outreach.
I chose to work with Tree Pittsburgh in Southside. Everyone showed up at around 10 am, split up into teams, and took their tools of the trade (rakes, garbage bags, gloves) to the area we were assigned. We spread out a lot of mulch and picked garbage out of the tree pits. My group stumbled across a staggering amount of garbage in a long line of shrubs by the Tenth Street Bridge, so after we took care of the tree pits, we spent about half an hour collecting that. As we were working, a man pushing a stroller stopped to ask us why we were doing this. Did we have to or want to? We explained we were choosing to, and he thanked us because he walked by this trash all the time and was glad to see it being picked up. Most people we passed looked pleased to see us working on the trees.
In addition to the optional service projects KEYS participated in, members served at the Braddock Carnegie Library and around the Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 School the following Friday. To prepare for the installation of the National Historic Landmark plaque on April 20th at the library, I helped clean woodwork and repackaged many large boxes of books that the library was planning on donating. Other projects at that site included cleaning carpets, windows, and the pool area.
To cap off AmeriCorps Week, some AmeriCorps members wore both green and their stylish AmeriCorps gear and marched in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade on March 16th.