by Jessica Schrader
Compass and Literacy*AmeriCorps Pittsburgh members are required to participate in nine member-led service projects over their eleven-month term of service. There have been almost two dozen opportunities for members to get involved in service projects in the past three months, some of them only requiring a handful of volunteers and others open to all members.
One of the larger service projects was the American Diabetes Association EXPO, held November 5 from 7:30 am until 4:00 pm at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Twenty-three Compass and Literacy*AmeriCorps members joined approximately one hundred community volunteers to do a variety of tasks throughout the day. Not many volunteers stayed to help out for the entire day, but Compass and Literacy*AmeriCorps members volunteered for the whole eight and a half hours!
Some members were asked to arrive at 7:30 to prepare for registration. Those members checked off vendors, exhibitors, speakers, and volunteers as they arrived and made sure that everyone knew where to go and what was expected of them. Other members arrived later and collected tickets from participants as they arrived and helped participants to sign waiver forms for testing. Additionally, members handed out brochures, provided informative health advice, spoke to EXPO participants in the ADA booth, ran a prize wheel station, and engaged in recipe demonstrations. Some members also assisted Mr. McFeely (from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) at his booth, where he was handing out information and signing autographs.
Other exhibitors and speakers included Val Porter from WDVE, several doctors from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and pharmacies like Giant Eagle, Rite Aid, and Wal-mart. Healthy cooking demonstrations were conducted throughout the day, including a presentation by the executive chef of The Atria’s at PNC Park. A variety of activities were also offered during the day, including Zumba, line dancing, hula hooping, and fencing. Members were able to explore the EXPO during downtime in their volunteer activities.
Katie Gigl led the service project. She found out about the Expo on pittsburghcares.org, a website that lists volunteer opportunities in and around the city. Organizations, like the ADA, post volunteer opportunities to the website, and anyone wishing to volunteer is able to search the site for opportunities based on location, time, activity, and more. It is also possible to search for events that specifically need groups of volunteers, which makes it a great resource for anyone looking for a service project to lead.
It may have been difficult to get out of bed to be at a service project so early on a Saturday morning, but it was well worth the effort. The AmeriCorps presence at the EXPO helped the event run smoothly, and it was a great opportunity to spend some time with and get to know fellow members. The EXPO saw hundreds of participants and dozens of exhibitors and speakers, and the help of the twenty-three Compass and Literacy*AmeriCorps members contributed greatly to the success of the event.