Public Allies Arizona: Getting Things Done for America
I quickly realized that Public Allies was no cop out when we were sworn in as AmeriCorps members. Back in September when I stood beside more than 40 committed Allies who had a variety of values, backgrounds, beliefs, and goals, but all taking the same oath I realized this was the real deal. We were committing to something that was bigger than ourselves for the sake of the greater good.
The oath reads:
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.
We each have followed this oath to a tee in our unique ways at placement and as a collective cohort.
- Bring Americans together to strengthen communities.
The second year allies led us in two service projects this year. One of which we partnered with Be a Leader Foundation and Duncan Family Farms on Cesar Chavez Day. We held an event for the farm employees to bring their kids to learn about who Cesar Chavez was. This event also provided a workshop for parents about Be a Leader’s resources to help their children go on to college. As allies, we got to be part of strengthening a rural community by developing this lasting partnership with Be a Leader and Duncan Family Farms.
- Faced with apathy, I will take action.
As allies, taking action is the nature of our work. We are the opposite of the stereotypical entitled and apathetic millennials. We have chosen to do something about the challenges our world faces, by joining Public Allies and serving those experiencing homelessness, who have a severe mental illness, who are on a limited income or who have physical disabilities.
We have also taken action in determining what our ally experience would be like this year more than ever. Thanks to the program managers giving us ownership of Community Space Day, allies gave trainings on topics relative to the core value being discussed that day. We heard information on meditation and self-care to research methods and the importance of collaboration from allies sharing their personal experiences and passions with the rest of the cohort. As we learned from each other, we were given new tools to bring to our placements.
- Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground
In developing the Presentations of Impact on healthy futures, economic opportunities and education each of us allies experienced two types of conflict. First, the inner conflict to muster up energy, drive and foucs to complete a whole new project with a new group dynamic and a very broad set of guidelines when we had just finished our team service project. Second, the interpersonal conflict to find the common ground between all of our unique work and how to summarize it well without loosing the contribution of each group member
If you attended any of the 3 presentations you saw that we overcame these conflicts: highlighting the growth of each person, but more so recognizing the issues within the focus area as a whole. We put our individual agendas aside and shared the information that needed to be heard by the community – effectively seeking common ground.
- Faced with adversity, I will persevere
We’ve each overcome adversity to get this far – allies not just trying to make it through the day for themselves, but caring for kids at home; allies giving their all at school and placement; allies developing brand new programs that took a while to implement, overcoming resistance from others who were afraid of change; allies deciding that they deserved to be taken care of too and making themselves a priority; allies learning to find their voice and speak up regardless of how they might be received by others.
But we've persevered. We've gotten through it by laughing and not taking ourselves too seriously; knowing the work is serious, the challenges we face are significant, but that things can be done in a fun spirit. With the support of the cohort, program managers and supervisors we have continued through hard times.
- I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.
We've gotten this far and seen what happens when we take action against injustice and we cannot go back to sitting around and watching anymore. We've seen that we have strong voices and something to bring to the table and we can’t be quieted anymore. We've seen that community is important and that success comes when doing things together and we can't go at it alone anymore.
This is just the beginning. We all are going to keep taking action, finding common ground, and persevering because that’s who we are. We’re Public Allies Arizona Class of 2014 and we all are going to keep getting things done for America.
This blog post is an excerpt from Annie Bellow’s 2014 Public Allies graduation speech.
Annie Bello recently completed her first year as a Public Ally through the ASU Lodestar Center. She served at Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun where she helped develop a new program called the Arizona Ramp Project that uses teams of volunteers to build exterior ramps for low-income, elderly homeowners. During her term of service, 43 ramps were built for homeowners across with valley with over 280 volunteers from a variety of corporations, resulting in 3 regular partnerships. Annie plans to serve as a second year Public Ally at People of Color Network in the coming year.