Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Need A Vacation....

And I am getting one! I leave for Hilton Head Island tomorrow morning with my family. They are coming here to pick me up and then we are off. I am excited for a chance to relax and lay out on the beach! And spend time with my family. And hopefully fix the self tanner mistake on my legs. It shall be a great week. Time is going so fast. I can't believe June is almost over.

We had sumo wrestling as an activity today in the spirit of Asia week (seven week program - different continent theme each week). Here is one of the cutest little girls, United, in one of the sumo outfits that Dominique created. Can I just say that this was absolutely hilarious. We had the gym set up like an arena and let every kid who wanted to have their chance in the ring. This had the potential to be very hazardous, but it turned out just fine. It was a lot of fun.

So work has been going well, but busy. Now that my headaches are mostly gone, I have a more positive attitude. As of today, we have one new staff person and one junior counselor for the summer program. So that is great for us and now I don't feel quite as sorry for the staff left behind while I am at the beach! I think the summer program is going pretty well - the kids keep coming back so it must not be too bad. And I am enjoying the chance to get to know some new kids that are coming.

So I have worked nine hours straight the past two days. Since I have plenty to do I barely realize how long I am there - time goes so fast. However I do miss my nice one hour lunch breaks while watching Days of our Lives (I no longer get a lunch break and eat with the kids) And I miss Louise who went back to Rwanda for three and a half weeks (one of the reasons I have been so busy - I feel like I am doing a little bit of everyone's job). Again - I am really looking forward to this vacation!

Another funny thing about today - So we have been without a person to pick up the trash outside the building for awhile now. And believe me - there is a heck a lot of trash out there and we have a pretty big space, including soccer fields. For the past couple weeks, I have been picking up as much trash as I can while I am outside with the kids and getting quite sick of it. So I passed it off to the kids today. I decided they receive five "good ones" for filling a bag of trash (just for an idea of the scope of this - we filled about 12 bags today). They use their good ones to buy prizes. Hooray for cheap labor! So many kids jumped at the chance to do this. I think I should raise their pay because it is not an easy job, especially in the heat.

Ok off to bed. Hilton Head here I come!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Good News?

We just found out Thursday that we received a $10,000 grant to use for the summer program. Yes this is very good news and I feel like I should be more excited about it. I do think it is a great thing, but it would have been a lot easier if we had received this money before we did all the planning for the summer program. We had a meeting yesterday about how we can extend the program now and it just stressed me out - which I attribute mostly to the pounding headache I had. It will just be a little difficult to figure out what we can do now in the midst of the actual program going on. Thankfully we have the money now for a little more staff - in addition to Shavaun and I, Dominique will be with us every day (instead of 10 hours a week we can now pay him 28 hours a week - big difference!) We can also hire one more staff person and two junior counselors (high school students). Although I have a feeling it will be a little difficult to find someone available now, for the staff person at least. Please pray that we find a great person soon! Once we find the staff, we will accept more kids and add one hour of activities (two was suggested - but I think one is better for our stress levels). With the money, we can bring in more outside people to do activities (like artists) and go on a few field trips. So that is exciting. And we can plan crafts that involve something more than construction paper and popsicle sticks! I just hope I feel better soon because it is not easy doing this job when you don't feel your best. And I don't see how I can do everything in an 8 hour work day. I have to be with the kids the four hours they are there as a regular staff person - and the other four hours I am supposed to be a youth programs co-coordinator, the facility manager, and for the three and a half weeks Louise will be gone - the administrative assistant. Hmmm....does anyone else see a flaw in this? Once my headache goes away I hope to be more optimistic about all this. I'm sure it will all work out....right?

P.S. More good news: As a part of the budget, Shavaun and I will both be given a $400 stipend at the end of the summer for our hard work! (she is an Americorps volunteer) Unexpected money is always great.

The Perpetrator

This is Juma. He is the reason I have had a headache for the past six days! Alright, so it was an accident - but it was Juma who threw the basketball that hit me in the back of the head (very hard I might add). He told me he was trying to pass to James, and I guess I got in the way. Ironically, about five minutes before this incident I had scolded them saying if they kept throwing the ball like that someone would get hurt. Looks like Ms. Maria was right! I have been pretty out of it this week. I was unable to go to work the day after due to a horrible headache, nausea, and an inability to get out of bed. Self-diagnosis: I have a concussion. I made it through work the rest of the week, but it wasn't easy. I was really hoping this headache and sore neck would be gone by now, but it was still there to greet me this morning. I was encouraged to go to the doctor mid-week by a few people, so I went yesterday afternoon and it was a complete waste of time! I figured a doctor wouldn't be able to do anything and I was right. I had to go to a different doctor and this guy wasn't personable at all. He didn't even tell me anything I should be doing to take care of myself! He said it was a "little worrisome" that I still have symptoms but he is 95% sure I am fine. He said I could have a CAT scan, but obviously I declined. So he wasn't helpful at all. I will just stick to getting plenty of rest and taking lots of pain killers. But this whole "taking it easy" thing is getting pretty boring. And it makes me angry that I have to feel like this just because a stupid basketball hit me in the head. This all could have been avoided!

Here's a little insight into the mind of Juma: I found this the other day - there is only one entry and I find it very amusing. Believe it or not, he is one of my favorites, although he went a little down on the list after the incident. I think it is hilarious that under his interests he lists "beating people up" followed by "curious george." (it is his favorite book to read - he once told me "I love that little monkey")

I was supposed to work with Cameron this morning, but his mom called to say he was sick. I am glad to get the chance to relax instead. I'm not sure I would have been up to the challenge anyways. (while he is usually pretty good for me, the past two sessions have been difficult) After lunch, we are heading up to Paoli for the weekend. We are going to stay in the same cabin we did for a retreat back in November. Then we are giving the sermon at the Mennonite church Sunday morning. The theme is "experiencing God in community"

Monday, June 12, 2006

Eastern Kentucky

The LUC had a great trip to Eastern Kentucky last week. It was absolutely beautiful there. We spent the week doing random service projects for different organizations (food boxes, creek clean-up, planting trees, moving stuff, etc.). We also learned a lot about the area and met some quality people. And we went on a couple great hikes. Like I said, it was gorgeous there. I really liked the area and was sad to learn about the coal mining practices, like mountain top removal. If you aren't aware, they actually blow the tops off mountains because it is the cheapest and easiest way to extract coal, and also horrible for the environment and the people who have to live there. The mountain tops have to go somewhere - these valley fills have covered up hundreds of miles of creeks and ruined the area's drinking water, among other environmental problems. Although the coal companies get rich off the business, none of the money stays in the area and there is a very high poverty rate. And did you know you can't buy bottled water with food stamps? Not good for poor families who can't drink their own water. Can we say social justice? Eastern Kentucky could really use some!
The most interesting service project was doing the creek clean-up. I expected just picking up trash, but we dug some crazy stuff up from that creek and hauled it to the side of the road (not easy work!) This picture is an example - I'm not really sure what it is. Something you attach to a truck to pull things I believe (the word for this is escaping me right now) We also found a patio umbrella, a conveyor belt, and some car parts.

Alright, for some reason this stupid thing never lets me put more than three pictures on a post, so this will have to do. I have a lot of great pictures. Anyways, I really enjoyed the trip and a break from the city and work! We got back Friday evening and then I spent the weekend in Cincinnati to visit Vicki. I wasn't quite ready to go back to work today.

So today was the first day of our summer program and I am already exhausted. I hope I have enough energy to make it through this summer. It went okay I guess - but it is hard to pull this off without the support of a full staff. And the kids expect things to be like they were in previous summers, and we are far from it. We are trying our best, but I heard a lot of complaints today. And to top it all off, I was hit in the head by a basketball! The gym was a litlte chaotic with balls flying everywhere. I am actually surprised it took 10 months for something like this to occur with my working conditions! This ball was thrown HARD and it hit me in the back of the head. I blacked out for a second - next thing I knew I was on the ground with a throbbing head and kids swarming around me to see if I was ok. Needless to say I have a horrible headache. I hope it doesn't last long. I need to get some sleep now.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Quick Update

Hello - just a quick post to say things have been going well. Last week at work was spent planning for a mini version of the summer program we are going to try to pull off. It starts June 12 and goes to the end of July. We will have activities Monday-Thursday and use Friday as chance to take a break and plan for the next week. I hope it goes well - we will be relying a lot on volunteers! Shavaun and I will be the only summer program staff there every day. It shall be interesting. (did I mention we have been given the titles of youth programs co-coordinators? I was not told this, but saw my name in print with this title!)

So I told Edgardo this past week that if there is money in the budget, I would like to contiune my work at Americana as a part-time job. He said yes. My job will be facility manager/writing the newsletter/administrative duties (getting paid for this will seem weird!) It was also officially confirmed that I will be having my practicum at Americana. This has to be completely separate from my job. It will be with the youth programs - I'm not sure if I've said this on here, but we will have money for youth programs in the fall. We just have to make it through the summer with very limited funding. Anyways, my practicum will be with the after-school program, but I will have different responsibilities as a social work intern than I did in the past as a regular staff member. So after my year of service is over in mid-August I will move into an apartment and start school soon after. But I will pretty much be at Americana the same amount as I am now, plus four classes. Hmmm...I will be busy. I knew I needed to have some sort of job to make money and I'm glad I don't have to start something new! This makes things a lot easier.

Ok so this update hasn't been so quick. I had a good weekend and tomorrow morning the Urban Corps is leaving for Whitesburg (Eastern Kentucky) for a week. We will be doing some service work/visiting the area. I am looking forward to the trip and a week off work. I will return Saturday sometime. I'll let you know how the trip goes. As of now I'm not really sure what we will be doing all week! I'll find out tomorrow - it should be an experience!