Posted by: MassPromise | June 15, 2011

Fellow Spotlight: Grace Duffy, Class XII

Our Fellow spotlight this month is Grace Duffy, who serves at the Regional Environmental Council (REC) of Central Massachusetts as the Education and Youth Development Fellow. One of the most interesting and amazing things about Grace is the fact that she grew up in the same neighborhood that she serves in Worcester, MA. Growing up in Worcester and going to the public schools, Grace’s parents ran (and still run) a short-term emergency homeless shelter called the Saint Francis & Therese Catholic Worker House. Grace remembers having large communal dinners with rotating guests – which helped build social skills that have been extremely helpful for her current position at REC.

Grace has two major projects at REC, managing and running the Youth GROW (Growing and Raising Organics in Worcester) program, and serving as the Class Coordinator for Worcester’s Share Our Strength cooking programs. The Youth GROW project has developed from a summer program for youth to work in community gardens into a year long program for high school and college aged youth to develop their leadership skills, hold a part time job working in the community gardens, and engaging in discussions of food justice and food security. Her other big project is coordinating nutrition based cooking classes in an effort to end childhood hunger. She plans cooking classes for youth and families who are directly or indirectly affected by food security and access.

The best part of her job is the time she spends with her youth. Grace’s expansion of the Youth GROW program has given her experience planning social and recreational events and retreats, leadership skills trainings, and service opportunities for the youth of Worcester.

Her motto for the program is “50% educational, 50% recreational, and 100% bonding.”

When I asked Grace about the most challenging part of her year so far has been meeting and hearing stories about people in really difficult situations, but being limited by funding to help them – “It’s really hard to turn someone away.”

This year has been an amazing transition period for Grace “to have structure and support from leaving undergrad, and getting an opportunity to big things professionally that will set me up for success.” Grace notes she had initially been intimidated about meeting new people, but she’s been

“happyly surprised by how cool everyone is…”I am really excited and grateful to have a job that I enjoy and look forward to. I am also happy and grateful to [have met] a whole group of people who I wouldn’t have crossed paths with if I hadn’t gotten this opportunity.”

Grace will be staying on for a second year with the Fellowship and at REC. In the further future, Grace notes that her work at REC has helped her realize and embrace a dedication to food justice, food security, and youth work – “I’ve discovered a talent interest [in the work] that keeps me excited and invigorated.”

Posted by: MassPromise | June 15, 2011

Alumni Spotlight: Alyssa Vangeli, Class V

This month, Minh got an opportunity to talk with Alyssa Vangeli from Class V. Alyssa served at Health Care For All, where she developed youth advocacy projects with high school aged teens.

Alyssa developed legislative trainings for her teens which helped empower her youth to create healthcare campaigns around the needs of the communities and neighborhoods she helped serve. Alyssa also provided opportunities for her youth to meet with their elected officials – “sometimes it was the first time the youth had the opportunity to meet with their elected officials about public policy issues.” Alyssa also said the best part of working with her youth was

“being able to see the impact on the youth themselves” seeing how nervous they were when she started the year in comparison to “seeing their growth” by the end of the year.

Her Fellowship year was an “amazing opportunity to delve into public health advocacy work right after college. The Fellowship provided lots of opportunities to connect with people who were doing a similar type of work.” She also appreciated the hands-on experience of leading a project which increased her responsibilities and gave her an opportunity to create legislative trainings for youth. Alyssa also fondly remembers her time as a Fellow, recalling that “the retreats were amazing.” She reports that she was very close to her fellow Fellows and hung out with them often outside of the Fellowship.

“I took pride in the collective…learning about all the different projects and being friends with people who were so interested in impacting the communities we were involved in.”

Since her Fellowship year, Alyssa has gone on to attain both a JD and her Masters in Public Health. Alyssa is currently a legal fellow at Health Law Advocates in Boston, an organization that is affiliated with her host site Health Care For All. What I found most impressing was how Alyssa’s work as a Fellow would come full circle – starting with her initial interest in public health and healthcare at the community organizing level to evolve into the policy and legal aspects of healthcare. Alyssa shared that she currently works at the same address as when she was a Fellow.

Thanks to Alyssa for giving me an opportunity to interview her, and thank you to Alyssa for her continued dedication to public health and advocacy that she started as a Fellow!

Posted by: MassPromise | June 8, 2011

We need your support!

We need your help.

Since 1999, the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship has been Empowering Youth, Developing Emerging Leaders, and Building Community throughout the Commonwealth. Over 200 Fellows, serving in partnership with community organizations and agencies from North Adams to Lawrence to Fall River to Boston have contributed over 370,000 hours of service to the youth of Massachusetts.

This legacy of service is now in jeopardy. Less than two weeks ago, we learned that the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship did not receive federal AmeriCorps funding for 2011-2012. But all is not lost. We are currently fighting for state funding for the program and are working with program partners and generous donors to ensure that this program continues to move forward.

And as we face our most significant funding challenge in our history, we are calling on you — our supporters, partners, and friends — to lend a hand and help us raise $40,000 by June 30. 100% of the money raised will go towards supporting the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship in 2011-2012.

Please donate now (http://masspromisefellows.org/online_donation.html) and share this message to friends, family members, and colleagues on Facebook who care about empowering young people. And be sure to ask your employer if your company matches their employee’s contributions.

To illustrate the impact of the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, consider the story of Julie Balasalle. Julie is a shining example what happens when you provide young people with the right resources to become dedicated leaders. As a former youth participant mentored by a Massachusetts Promise Fellow, a Class VII Fellow, and today, the Co-Chair of the MPF Advisory Board, Julie demonstrates the power of this program. To read her story, and to learn why you should support the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, please go to: http://masspromisefellows.org/appeal/develop.html

Visit http://masspromisefellows.org/appeal.html for more information about the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship and to learn how we Empower Youth, Develop Emerging Leaders, and Build Community.

Thank you for your generous support,

Kori Redepenning, Fellowship Director and Class IV Senior Fellow

Walt Horner, Advisory Board Fundraising Committee Chair and Founder

Julie Balasalle, Advisory Board Co-Chair, Class VII Fellow, and former youth served by a Class II Fellow

Posted by: MassPromise | May 18, 2011

We’re live, and also alive!

Hello Friends!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from us, did you miss us? We missed you! So much so that we now have a jumppin’ YouTube Channel for you to check out between blog posts!

Take a look and let us know what you think. More videos and posts to come from MPF Alums and current Fellows in the coming months – so please stay tuned and thanks for reading (and watching!

PS: be sure to watch each video till the end for some humorous antics.

Posted by: MassPromise | March 7, 2011

Welcome!

Hello World!

Welcome to The Massachusetts Promise Fellowship Blog! We are really excited to be able to provide you with a window in to the goings on of the Fellowship. From the great work our Fellows are doing at their host sites to what are Alums are up to now, we hope that this space serves as a place for you to get to know us a bit better and become a part of our great service community!

If you don’t know much about MPF here is a quick rundown:

  • We are 12 years old!
  • We are an AmeriCorps program
  • We place dynamic, driven and diverse individuals at a myriad of non-profit organizations, schools and city agencies across Massachusetts
  • Fellows serve at their host sites for one year to create, lead, and manage youth development projects

Class XII 2011

We plan for this space to be a showcase of service not only from our own Fellows but from all the great people doing service all over the world!  Check back every week to see what we’re up to and be sure to fan us on Facebook for even more updates!

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