AMERICANA UNDERGOES BIG CHANGES Editorial by Edgardo Mansilla MSW It is with a great deal of excitement that we share this photo of the current state of our renovation expansion project. Almost 10 years ago, we were able to buy what is now the “Americana Educational and Recreational Campus” with generous gifts from the C E & S Foundation, The Gheens Foundation, the J. Graham Brown Foundation, the Vogt Foundation, and the Humana Foundation. Thousands of people are the direct beneficiaries of this dream; many today have a better present and future for having had Americana in their lives. Now we are starting a new decade. Thanks to the generosity of individuals, local foundations, and corporations, we were able to raise the funds to make Americana a 21st century facility. But Americana is more than bricks and mortar. It is people. We surveyed participants, friends, sponsors, and volunteers (maybe you were one of them). Their
resounding answer was: Americana is about community and education. It is a place to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect. It is not about your social class, your level of education, or your national origin. It is about being human. So simple. So true. So powerful. Let me extend my personal invitation to you to join me on Saturday June 2, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to celebrate our 22nd annual Americana World Festival, “Where Louisville Meets the World.” In particular this year we will recognize those trailblazers in our hometown that made this last decade of Americana’s history possible. Finally, thank you all for being part of Americana.
Thanks to the vision and supporting role of the board of trustees of the following foundations, ACC was able to purchase the Americana Education and Recreation Campus a decade ago: J. Graham Brown Foundation; CE&S Foundation, Gheens Foundation; Humana Foundation and VOGT Foundation.
STAFF LIST P4 WORLDFESTIVAL POSTER P5, GOODBYE AND THANK YOU P6, A GOODBYE TO SARAH FLOOD AND VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT P8, SERVICE WEEK PAINTS AMERICANA BLUE P10, AMERICANA FIBERWORKS STITCHES UP SOME FUN P13, 8TH NATIONAL LOWINCOME RIGHTS CONFERENCE & A WHOLE NEW WORLD P14, AMERICANA FAMILY EDUCATION CAREER TRAINING TAKES A TRIP & FAMILY EDUCATION CELEBRATES TEACHERS, LEADERS AND VOLUNTEERS P15, AMERICANA GETS A FACELIFT P16 , FAMILY EDUCATION VISITS OXMOOR FARMS P17, ACC VISITS HOLIDAYS WITH WINTER FESTIVAL P18, CONGRATS GRADUATING SENIORS & DIFFERENCES MAKE A DIFFERENCE P21, HOW GREEN IS YOUR GARDEN? P22 , AMERICANA SERVES THE YOUTH P23, VITA IS VITAL FOR ANOTHER YEAR P24, 2 THANK YOU P25
Staff List Introducing Our 2012 Lineup
Incoming Community Liaison and Development Coordinator, Dana Loustalot Duncan
During this time of change at Americana, it’s not only our building that’s undergoing renovations! We’re happy to announce that we’ve added plenty of new faces to the ranks of our staff. Welcome to these new staff members – we’re happy to have you onboard!
Alex Gaughan, Morning Office Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Alex Udis, Community Garden Coordinator email@example.com Dana Loustalot Duncan, Community Liaison (incoming) firstname.lastname@example.org David Noll, AmeriCorps VISTA email@example.com Edgardo Mansilla, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Elijah McKenzie, Evening Office Assistant email@example.com Emilie Dyer, Family Coach firstname.lastname@example.org Erin Shaw, Creative Arts Coordinator email@example.com Kristin Burgoyne, Programs Director firstname.lastname@example.org Kristina Mielke, AmeriCorps VISTA Project Leader email@example.com Love Beverly, Youth Program Staff firstname.lastname@example.org Lara Miramontes, Community Liaison & Career Counselor (outgoing) email@example.com Maria Koerner, Grants Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Nelson Belmonte, Family Education School-Age Teacher email@example.com Pat Gould, Finance Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Qjuan Bright, Youth Program Staff email@example.com Rachel Slaughter, AmeriCorps VISTA firstname.lastname@example.org Rebecka Bloomer, Family Education and Youth Programs Coordinator email@example.com Suzanne Steiger, Fiberworks Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Prady Rivera, Facility Attendant
Incoming PM Desk Assistant, Elijah McKenzie
Incoming AM Desk Assistant, Alex Gaughan
GOODBYEANDTHANKYOU Lara Miramontes Erin Shaw
Lara Miramontes, Community Liaison/ Career Counselor, started at ACC as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2010, dedicating a year of volunteer service to help us deepen our community partner relationships. She was such a dynamic presence at ACC that she was offered a full-time position last summer, becoming our first Community Liaison and AFECT Career Counselor. Continuing her work with the community, Lara has helped us deepen long term partnerships and create new connections. Additionally, she had a tremendous impact on our Family Education program as our AFECT Career Counselor, where she worked with intermediate and advanced level parents on career development. Lara will be leaving ACC and Louisville to return to Vancouver, Canada to pursue her Masters of Public Health from prestigious Simon Fraser University. Lara, we will surely miss your compassion, dedication and positive energy and wish you the best of luck in your studies!
Erin Shaw, Creative Arts Coordinator for our After School Program, began working with us in the Fall 2011. She brought years of experience in youth development, visual arts, dance, music and theatre, and gymnastics with her to create a fantastic Creative Arts program this year. Erin has an uncanny ability to bring teens and youth not previously engaged in our arts program to the table and diversified the arts to include a film making club, youth mural, offering 2D and 3D art projects, and developing sustainable partnerships with artist with our youth on various art projects. Erin will be leaving ACC and Louisville to travel abroad to Europe and Argentina. The staff at ACC is thankful to have had such a dedicated, passionate, and creative individual share so much knowledge with our youth this past year. Erin, your leadership and expertise in youth development helped us raise the bar in continuing to provide high quality out-ofschool programming and we will miss you greatly!
Mirac Ozkir, Youth Programs Teen Staff, joined our team in Fall 2011. Mirac, a mathematician from Turkey, brought unrivaled math skills to the after school program. We always struggle to find staff members who can help teens with subjects from pre-algebra to calculus and we were fortunate to have Mirac bring that highly valued skill. Mirac brought extensive experience working as a private math tutor in Turkey with him to ACC. While a staff member with Americana, he worked daily in our teen library, providing tutoring and homework assistance to teens in the grades 6-12. Many students sought him out for his broad knowledge of math subjects. Mirac left Americana to visit Turkey and will be returning to Louisville to study for a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of Louisville. We wish Mirac a great future as a teacher and appreciate his dedication to our after school program!
Dhruba Jyoti Neupane, Youth Programs Teen Staff, joined the After School Program in August 2011. Dhruba, a native of Nepal, has a Masters in English Composition from the University of Lousiville. His work on community based literacy initiatives brought him to ACC, where he provided much needed homework assistance to middle and high school youth enrolled in our After School Program. This fall Dhruba will be moving to Ontario, Canada to pursue a Ph.D. We at Americana wish him a successful academic career and appreciate his enthusiasm and contribution to our community center.
A Goodbye to Sarah Flood By Kristin Burgoyne, Program Director
Way back in Fall 2010, Americana was fortunate enough to have a summer intern, Sandra Moxley of New York, help us put together our very first Americana e-newsletter. We are extremely thankful for Sandra putting in all the research and time. Unfortunately, we only had Sandra for a few weeks and were sad to see her leave. Almost immediately after her departure, we found another remarkable volunteer to help us with the daunting task of creating an e-newsletter. Sarah Flood, a graduate of Bellarmine University, became our graphic design intern and helped us expand upon our newly created newsletter, bringing professional graphic design skills with her. Sarah has given Americana the ability to reach over 300 key community partners with the creation of a high quality, professional e-newsletter. Our enewsletter is published to issuu.com, a free emagazine distribution site, which means, we are able to reach people across the globe. Sarah has really helped us turn our e-newsletter into more of an online magazine, featuring incredible graphics. Sarah always managed to find time in her busy schedule to stop by whenever we needed to discuss the e-newsletter. She worked extremely hard every quarter, for two weeks or more each time, putting together all our articles and pictures and always produced beautiful work. And Sarah did all of this for
free. A local design executive emailed us after one publication was released, commenting that Sarahâ€™s contribution, at such professional level, was astounding! Our suspicions were confirmed then that we had an exceptionally generous intern. Sarah left us after publishing our Winter 2011 newsletter, as her work with the Kentucky Derby Museum was becoming exceedingly demanding and she is planning her summer wedding. Sarah, we are continually blown away by your incredible graphic design skills and thank you for being such a dedicated, generous intern. The Americana family wishes you all the best and congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHTCAMERON ASHWORTH Mary Ann Riehls, Family Education Lead Early Childhood Teacher
We have had many wonderful volunteers in the Early Childhood Room at Americana. Some volunteer for service hours or for college internships. Most do their required time and move on. No matter how much time each volunteer spends in the room we are grateful for the extra hands and the children absolutely love working with our volunteers. It is also a tremendous help to the staff, especially on busy days when our classroom is bustling with youngsters. This year, one volunteer Cameron posing has gone above and beyond with two children and we would like to in the Family recognize her for her Education room at Americana dedication. Cameron Community Center. Ashworth, a student from Bellarmine University, has volunteered at Americana for the past two years. She completed her required hours a year ago, yet continues to donate time with the children. Her visits twice a week have enabled her to develop rich relationships with the children
in the program, which is evident when their faces light up as she enters the room. Cameron joins in classroom activities and work with our children with great enthusiasm. The children know they can count on her to give them her undivided attention, which is so important with young children. The work the children do in the classroom centers on school preparedness and Cameron greatly enriches their experience by being a consistent presence. The staff knows Cameron can be counted on as well and appreciate her timeliness and complete attention when working in the Early Childhood classroom. Whether it is working puzzles or building with blocks, Cameron gives 100 percent and she is not afraid to take initiative when staff needs her. In addition to her weekly volunteer hours, Cameron organized a soap drive to go along with our Fall Festival and a glove and hat drive at Bellarmine to help keep the families warm in the winter. Cameron plans to continue volunteering with ACC next semester. We have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful and committed volunteer at Americana! Thank you, Cameron, for all your hard work!
Service Week Paints Americana Blue Volunteers Revitalize Campus By Lara Miramontes, Community LIason and Career Counselor
On Friday, April 20, 2012 Americana Community Center hosted a major volunteer service project in recognition of the Mayor’s Give a Day Week of Service (April 15 – 22, 2012). More than 20 community volunteers donated their time and energy to various building and campus revitalization activities during Americana’s Give a Day event. We had several stellar community volunteers who donated their time and energy, including a large component of wonderful Humana leaders, many of whom had visited and volunteered at Americana before. Volunteers completely repainted our cafeteria walls from an ancient yellow to a fresh light blue color. Americana youth were thrilled to see the change when they they returned the following week! Volunteers also contributed various springtime changes in the Community Garden and around the grounds of the center. They completed much of the ground work to prepare the garden for summer. These improvements outside and in the cafeteria will benefit the thousands of program participants and other community members that utilize Americana Community Center annually. The Give a Day Week of Service was a Louisville Metro-wide initiative and an official Kentucky Derby Festival event coinciding with National Volunteer Week. Mayor Greg Fischer spearheaded the
Mayor Greg Fischer spearheaded the service week, envisioning Louisville setting a world record for volunteerism, and encouraged individuals and organizations to get involved in a variety of ways. service week, envisioning Louisville setting a world record for volunteerism, and encouraged individuals and organizations to get involved in a variety of ways. Americana Community Center’s Give a Day project was made possible by extensive community generosity. An anonymous donation to the Mayor’s Give a Day Week of Service fund necessary supplies for our project and Girard’s Hardware (5101 South 3rd St., 40214) also discounted items purchased at their store for the event. Thank you to everyone who contributed, especially our wonderful volunteers. And special thanks to Cate Joret of Humana, for buying lunch for all the volunteers and for her continued support, and to Lance Weston of Humana for doing a fantastic job planning and facilitating, as always!
Humana Leaders and other community volunteers donate time and energy to the beautifying of the Americana campus.
Americana Fiberworks is a womenâ€™s arts and educational group designed to support the positive integration of refugee and immigrant women into the Louisville community using a common interest in the fiber arts. Classes are Free Tues, Thurs, and Sat 12:00pm-3:00pm accfiberworks.blogspot.com
Americana Fiberworks Stitches Up the Fun Fiber Arts Program Welcomes New Staff and Volunteers By Rachel Slaughter, AmeriCorps Vista
It’s been a while since we at Americana and Anna Roeder. Also, thank you so much to the Fiberworks have checked in. We started off the New Knit Nook Refugees and Stitch n’ B*tch, for donating Year strong with new staff, participants, a blog, and yarn supplies. product orders. Before we tell you about all the great things we’ve been up to, we need to first thank Sylvia Church, who led Fiberworks for the past few years and helped it grow in members and supporters. Thank you, Sylvia! Our new team will build on Sylvia’s work. Suzanne Steiger, Program Coordinator, comes to us after years of experience as a fiber artist. She worked at The Knit Nook teaching knitting and crochet classes and has created crochet patterns that have been translated into many different languages. Rumor has it she could sew a button before she could read. She not only brings years of valuable experience but also kindness and sense of humor that has made the transition seamless. Our AmeriCorps VISTA member, Rachel Slaughter, will work on developing Fiberworks programming. Rachel is returning to Americana after finishing her undergraduate degree and we are very excited to have her back. Our new staff has hit the ground running with new product designs, including crocheted recycled plastic market bags (you can download the free pattern on our blog: accfiberworks.blogspot.com) and Americana Chevrolet dolls. One of our participants made a doll for her granddaughter with a dress to match. We fell in love with her doll and dresses, not to mention this picture of them together! Also, Maria Castro, whose granddaughter is pictured here, recently passed her U.S. citizenship test! Congratulations, Maria, we’re so proud of you! Damber (right) and Yunesy (Below) show off their fiberworks wares. The blog is also a new endeavor for us. It has been an outlet for some of our stories, pictures, and videos. The regular Fiberworks members look forward to blogging things they are excited to share. For example, Dancilla shared fabric dying skills, and Damber has shown how to make string heddles for a loom. The women love to share their strongest skills and we’ve found that having them listen to themselves speak also helps them them practice their English. We hope you enjoy the videos on our blog and look for more in the future! We have things coming up that we want to share with you all. Catch us around town in the next few months at the following events: We will have a booth at the 22nd annual Americana World Festival, June 2nd at Americana Community Center and at the Forecastle Festival July 13-15 at Waterfront Park. We’ll have some of our new products as well as all of your old favorites for purchase. We hope to see you there! And as always we want to thank our volunteers and donors, who help keep Fiberworks going and enrich the program: Kentucky Foundation for Women, Katy Hartman, Marilyn Rose, Amar Shah, Amy Hammer,
8th National Low-Income Rights Conference By Kristin Burgoyne, Program Director
At the beginning of December 2011 ACC Executive Director Edgardo Mansilla and I attended the 8th National Low Income Immigrant Rights Conference held in Washington, D.C. Each year the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) brings expert facilitators and speakers to offer a variety of workshops on issues affecting low income immigrants, including health care, worker’s rights, access to education, immigration enforcement and more. It seems appropriate that these important discussions about immigrant rights were held in our nation's capital, with access to facilitators and speakers from the AFL-CIO, Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International, Jobs with Justice, Yale Law School, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor and Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Brian Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, was the keynote speaker, presented a dynamic speech about privilege and injustice, specifically as it relates to immigrant
rights. It was a powerful and impressive performance. Conferences like this this enable ACC staff to develop professionally and to learn about what is happening in other communities across the country with international populations. ACC is unable to attend many meaningful such events due to heavy budget restraints, so it is extremely beneficial when hosts (such as NILC) help defray costs by providing scholarships and when generous relatives and friends are willing to house us in their city. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the National Immigration Law Center for providing me with a scholarship to attend the conference and Jonathan Hamilton for being such a gracious host during our stay in D.C.
A Whole New World By Love Beverly, Youth Program Staff
Working at Americana Community Center has opened up a whole new world for me and has inspired me to achieve higher goals for myself. I am not unfamiliar with the community center setting, but I am new to the international aspect of it. I have always wanted to travel outside of the United States, but I have not had the opportunity to do so. The first day I arrived at Americana I experienced a surprising culture shock. I was immersed in cultures from all over the world. It was beautiful to see people in so many different kinds of dress, women in hijab, experiencing the life and color, and hear the many different languages. One of
my favorite parts of the day is the transitional time between After School Programming and ESL classes. It is amazing to hear all of the languages we have represented at Americana being spoken at the same time – over 50 different mother tongues! It’s like traveling the world in 60 seconds. I believe that I have always been a person of cultural acceptance and my experience at Americana allows me to see first-hand many different cultures and gain deeper respect for them before I begin my journey to see the world. I also love the fact that I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children that I am tutoring. I want to make sure that I am a positive role model for them and encourage them to get a good education. Working with such extraordinary people has motivated me to further pursue my own higher education. I not only see great potential for the youth at Americana, but also for myself as I learn from them. One thing that they have taught me is patience. It was a rough first few weeks because the children were not used to me, and I them. At times I wanted to give up, but I stuck with it. Now I enjoy the time that I have to work with them. I look forward to having a long career at Americana. I feel at home here. There is an old saying that goes, "Home is your first teacher." I now know that when I go out in to the world I will be ready, for I had a great teacher at home. I see the world with a whole new meaning and the things that I am learning here will carry me throughout my personal and professional life.
AFECT Utilizes Trips to Promote Employment By Lara Miramontes, Community Liason and Career Counselor
Americana Family Education Career Training (AFECT) is a special program that was implemented in August 2011 as part of Family Education at Americana. It is made possible through a grant from the the US Department of Labor, in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy. AFECT participants have been working hard this year! They’ve completed career interest inventories, listened to guest speakers from area businesses, developed resumes and taken other necessary steps for job applications, created action plans, and increased their knowledge of employment in our community in many other ways. On April 6, 2012, AFECT participants took a field trip to Signature Healthcare South Louisville, a care facility close to Americana in the South End. The management and staff at Signature discussed employment at their facility, including opportunities
to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and gave us a tour of the building. They were very welcoming and made our participants feel right at home. Several AFECT students have subsequently applied for employment at Signature. A second field trip, on April 27, 2012, took participants to ValuMarket in Iroquois Manor. Many shop at ValuMarket regularly, so there was a great deal of interest as participants toured the store, and learned about employment in the grocery industry. The management at ValuMarket was wonderful and our participants were very appreciative for this opportunity. AFECT is now nearing the end of its grant period. We at Americana Community Center are thrilled to have received and implemented this grant. We believe that, through their involvement in AFECT, participants have displayed increased confidence in their English language proficiency and in their ability to achieve the careers that they desire and deserve.
Family Education Celebrates Teachers, Leaders and Volunteers By Emilie Dyer, Family Coach
This year’s Family Leader Engagement event and dinner was an opportunity for Family Education participants to celebrate their progress in the classroom. On April 20, 2012, Americana families came together for a special dinner, catered by Qdoba, to honor their hard work throughout the year. Volunteers from U.S. Bank and the Red Cross also were on hand to provide parents with information on topics such as savings, mortgages, and disaster preparedness. Participants were awarded certificates and given flowers for their efforts. Three Family Leaders, Paw Eh Tay, Wawa Nyunt, and Rachel Hatangimana, who had been particularly tenacious in their pursuit of goals through Family Coaching, were presented Kroger gift cards and recognized for meeting Family Coaching goals, including homeownership and
acquiring health insurance. Wawa was recognized not only for her expedient completion of goals, but for going above and beyond to provide services and resources to fellow community members. The dinner also honored Family Education teachers and our dedicated volunteers that have provided quality services to our Family Education participants. One volunteer, Cameron Ashworth, has devoted countless mornings to chasing little ones in the Early Childhood room. Cameron initially became a volunteer to work on a class project, but soon became too attached to leave and has been volunteering every week since. Seeing all of these parents, teachers, and children together, celebrating their accomplishments, truly embodies what Americana is about: a community of people who help one another and celebrate each other’s successes.
AMERICANA GETS A FACELIFT By Erin Shaw, Creative Arts Coordinator
You may have noticed something new when you passed by the front of Americana recently. I’ll give you a hint: it’s big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful… and you can’t miss it. Yes, it’s our new mural! ACC was excited to unveil not one but two new murals this spring. In the fall, our staff was discussing ideas for a center-wide art project that would really engage our youth participants, give them a sense of ownership and pride, and help to build a stronger community at Americana. We ran some ideas by the kids and made the exciting decision to paint two new murals: one inside, flanking the doors of the library, and one on the front of the building. This spring was a perfect time for the project, as the artwork we created would become a contribution to the major renovation that’s taking place on the ACC campus. Students and staff alike were excited to begin! And so we began planning. Teens in the ACC Art Club discussed themes for the indoor mural. What is Americana Community Center all about? How could we best represent our community? We boiled our ideas down to three main themes: unity, individuality, and possibility. Sketches were made, photographs were taken around campus, surveys were given, and design and style elements were discussed. In the end, a final drawing was made, and we were ready to begin! Over a period of twelve weeks, we transferred the drawing to fifteen times its size on the hallway wall and painted the mural. Over 50 members of the Americana community contributed to this mural: staff, volunteers, and youth participants from every grade, K-12. In the meantime, we received the great news that we were the recipients of a 2012 ArtsReach
Institute grant, giving us funding to begin the second mural. This grant was focused on partnerships with community artists. Staff and youth participants helped design a project called “School of Swag: Graffiti Art & Fashion Project,” focused on building self-efficacy, authenticity, and integrity, a.k.a. “swag”, and partnering with professional graffiti artist Braylyn “Resko” Stewart. From January to March, youth participants in this project took an indepth look at graffiti, a modern artistic tradition seeped in history, culture, politics, social issues, ethics, and craft. The project included documentary films, discussions, field trips, debates, design lessons, self-reflection and of course, art-making! Over Spring Break, a select number of teens participated in the School of Swag “Masters Degree,” during which they designed and painted an individual art project and group mural with Resko. Symbols, words, and design elements were again discussed and selected, and the mural went up in just one week! Over the course of the next year, we hope to raise the funds to fill the rest of the space with art, bringing light to what was once a dull, gray wall, and welcoming the community to our newly renovated campus. Our new murals are a symbol of Americana’s mission and services, and the spirit of each member of the community who contributes to it. Adults and children from all corners of the globe have come together here to make our community a better place through art. Whether it’s spray paint, oil paint, or just a friendly smile, the spirit of Americana is alive and shining! Come visit the new murals and see for yourself. Enjoy!
Family Education Visits Oxmoor Farms Parents and Children Spend an Active Day at Local Farm By Kristin Burgoyne, Program Director
On Saturday, April 15th, the evening Family Education program was afforded a unique opportunity to visit the Oxmoor Farms Food Literacy Project for a day of learning and fun with the entire family. As families arrived at ACC to board the TARC Adventure Bus (Thank you TARC for generously donating the Adventure Bus!), it began pouring down raining. This did not deter our dedicated parents from participating in a day at the farm. Beginning the dayâ€™s activities at the farm proved challenging at first as the rain kept us inside. However, the wonderful staff at Oxmoor provided us with shelter by ushering us into a barn for circle time. We talked about what we could expect out of our day, including learning about worms, planting seeds, and making a salad from different plants. Once circle time was finished, we split the nine
families (including parents, their children under 5, and older school-aged siblings up to age 15) into three groups. The children giggled with excitement as they searched their plates of dirt for wiggling worms and rolled newspaper into little seed trays for planting seeds. The most important lesson of the day was donâ€™t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Several children squealed with disgust at the worms but eventually came around after learning that worms provide oxygen and nutrients to the soil, helping plants thrive. The parents were just as excited as the children, sharing stories of their own farming experiences in their native countries. Many of our evening Family Education parents employed unique farming practices in Burma and their refugee camps in Thailand. They talked about digging deep holes, which they filled with stones and covered
with dirt to use as gardens. Throughout the day, I heard parents who are normally the most reserved at Americana telling the most stories. Time on the farm brought a gleam to their eyes and energy from them I don't usually see. It got me thinking about how difficult it must be for them to have had to leave such fertile and rich rural lands to come to Louisville, KY and live in an apartment complex with almost no green space. The day also reminded me of my own upbringing, in rural West Virginia, where I was born and raised on a 150 acre farm. I was expected to help plant and upkeep our large garden, bail hay in 100 degree heat, and take care of all the farm animals. Unlike the families in our Family Education program though, I made the choice to move to the city, living in spaces that are mostly occupied by people, not nature. Our families at Americana didn't have the privilege of choosing, but they are making the
best of their situations and staying positive and motivated despite all the complex issues they are experiencing. I am proud of all of their accomplishments, their dedication to their children, and the day on the farm reminded me of how lucky I am to work with these families on a daily basis. I am thankful to Oxmoor Farms for allowing us to spend a day on their farm, to allow our families a stress free day where they could reminisce about their homelands and not feel the pressure of everyday life.
For more information about Family Education, contact Kristin Burgoyne, Programs Director or Rebecka Bloomer, Family Education and Youth Programs Coordinator at (502) 366-7813 or by email at Kristin@americanacc.org or Rebecka@americanacc.org
ACC Celebrates Holidays with Winter Festival By Lara Miramontes, Community Liason and Career Counselor
Although the chilly season seems far removed now, only four short months ago Americana staff, volunteers and participants were celebrating our annual Winter Festival! On December 16, 2011, hundreds of individuals and families came together for the familyfriendly festivities. Games and activities took place in the cafeteria and gymnasium, including a spectacular drumming performance from some of our Burundian Youth Program participants, cookie decorating, a Turkish
game and song, Cuban pin the tail on the donkey, African “backyard marbles,” henna tattooing, a world music DJ, and a true or false world traditions game. Volunteers from Humana, AmeriCorps, the Boy Scouts of America, Spalding University Community Nursing, Mercy Academy, and various other community members led and supported the activities. Two community groups that especially delighted the children were Becker Law Office, who sent their cute mascot, the Becker Bear, and local band Katie’s Habit,
who strummed up some fun in the gymnasium. As always, families also had the opportunity to get beautiful, professional-quality portraits taken. Upstairs, Santa gave fun, age-appropriate gifts to children, and families received warm hats and gloves very necessary for that chilly season! This distribution was made possible by generous donations from groups including South Louisville Community Ministries, Becker Law Office, Highland Fitness, Brown-Forman, Greater
Louisville Outstanding Women, First Unitarian Church, Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty, Broadway Baptist Church, Okolona Street Rods, Family Health Centers, Humana, and various other community members. We knew that Winter Festival was a success when we saw the big smiles on the faces of our kids and families during the festivities! Check out the fantastic pictures from Winter Festival, courtesy of photographer Dan Dry.
Congrats Graduating Seniors! By David Noll, AmeriCorps Vista
Shugwe Niyonsaba demonstrating the strong character that guided him through 4 years of high school. Photo by Dana Duncan
Abdulaziz Abdulkarim, Abdulkarim Abdulkarim, Jan Alberron, Nadifa Hussein, Yared Jemaine, Fatuma Lugazo, Eric Mbrizi, Mwajuma Mkandama, Halima Mohammed, Mohamed Mohamed, Shugwe Niyonsaba, Jean-Claude Ntakirutimana, James Drabo, and Michael Mulinda
Americana Community Center would like to offer an enthusiastic congratulations to this year’s youth program participants who are graduating from high school. We are proud of the work that the class of 2012 has put in here at ACC. Many of these seniors have been coming for homework help and after-school activities for years and their success has served as a great example to our younger participants. Seniors will be moving on to bigger and better things. On top of enjoying their summers, they are taking steps toward their future plans. Some are getting jobs; some are talking to military recruiters; some are preparing for college. One senior said that his favorite thing about high school was “going there and getting an education and learning English.” Another said “Everything! I enjoyed every moment of it!” With such positive attitudes, it’s no wonder they were successful. We asked them what advice they could give to our youth participants who are currently still in high school. Our seniors responded with some great advice: “Come to Americana every day so you will get your homework done.” “Stay in school, do your work, respect yourself and others, and last but not least, watch who you hang with.” Of course work isn’t the only part of high school life. We also provide a safe, constructive place for youth program participants to socialize. As one of our seniors said, her most memorable moments at Americana were “hanging out with friends.” When asked if their time at Americana helped them graduate, we got responses like “Yes! Because when I didn’t understand my assignments, Americana was there to help me.” These students put the work in themselves, but Americana strives to provide a positive environment for them to get their work done. So, congratulations to this year’s graduating seniors (See Right).
Differences Make a Difference By CNPE and Kristin Burgoyne, Program Director
Did you know that in some parts of Louisville, 61% of households speak a language other than English? Or that Louisville’s refugee resettlement program has created a large and diverse refugee community here that makes up 15% of the city's foreign-born population, compared to 7% nationally? Our community is consistently changing and becoming a more interesting and diverse place. But how do we best serve our immigrant and refugee neighbors? Professionals from social service agencies, Metro Louisville Government and private entities began working on the question by attending a Cultural Competency course hosted by the Center for Non-profit Excellence on May 23rd. This exciting and interactive three-hour workshop was co-created by CNPE and Americana Community Center and features a curriculum sure to expand your understanding of Louisville’s
specific foreign-born populations, immigration laws, cultural competency, and race literacy. Registrants learned strategies for working with international population and interpreters, and came out of the training with a greater understanding of his or her unique history and story. Americana Community Center facilitators will begin offering these trainings to community-based organizations, the health care field, social service providers, and corporations for a fee. The fee will depend on participant size and requested hours of training. Additionally, the training is meant to be adaptable to organizational needs, meaning we take into consideration what information your agency will benefit most from. Please contact Kristin Burgoyne or Maria Koerner for more information on how to schedule a Cultural Competency training for your organization.
How Green is Your Garden? By Alex Udis, Garden Coordinator
Summer planting season is now upon us! It’s felt like summer in Louisville since February, don’t you think? We’ve made some changes in the Community Garden this year. The compost bins have moved to make way for a hoop/green house in the future. The gardener’s contract has been rewritten. The Kids’ Garden has been partially dismantled and is in the process of being rebuilt for more sustainability and functionality. The grape vines have been cut back and are now growing on a new trellis. Dwarf fruit trees have been planted. We’re trying to move the shed from the sun to the shade. And a new irrigation system is in the works. We have many gardeners this year: Punya and Chuda, Ah Pyu, Simon, Annie, Padma, Mensura, Ali, Victorine, Albert, Memo, Hussein, Americana Fiberworks participants, and residents of the old “Convent” apartment in the ACC building – from Burma, Sudan, Iraq, Bhutan, Bosnia, the United States, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nearly everyone’s garden is full of plants. Some are, of course, fuller and greener than others. Alongside Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP), University of Kentucky, and Kentucky State University, Americana Community Center has hosted a number of gardening workshops this spring. So far, we’ve discussed pest management, spring planting, raised bed building, bean and corn planting, and temporary low tunnel construction. Workshops rotate between the Americana Community Garden and RAPP Garden located behind the New Heights Baptist Church, at 7315 Southside Drive, every other week. The next workshop will at New Heights on June 13, 2012. The next workshop at ACC will be held on June 27. Workshops are open to all. We’ve been lucky to have great groups come out to volunteer this season at the Americana Community Garden. Students from the Bellarmine Sustainability
class relocated and rebuilt our compost bins and dismantled the Kids Garden, amongst other odd jobs around the garden. Adelente Hispanic Achievers came out one morning to dig flowerbeds and vegetable beds for the Family Education Plot and found baby rabbits hiding amongst our mulch pile! Folks from Humana and GE joined us for the Mayor’s Give a Day and worked entirely too hard on everything. Students from the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship joined us very early in the season to give a helping hand. The garden has also been fortunate enough to receive the help of numerous individual volunteers. Thank you to all who helped this season! Please take pride in the fact that the garden is green and flourishing for the summer. Lastly, the Family Education plot is up and running. Half of the beds have been built and seeded with lettuces, radishes, carrots, peas, corn, and beans – yum! Family Education comes down each week to take care of their plot. Also, as promised in last season’s newsletter, the Kids’ Garden is no longer just for summer use. Interested youth are invited into the garden every Thursday after their homework is done to learn about plants, bugs, and dirt. Our intern, Lindsey, will be planting potatoes with the kids this week. The youth’s interest in the garden has grown from last year. Once only a place to get water from, many of ACC’s Youth Program now visit the garden often to water compost or plant flowers. Some of the girls from the After School Program even had a lemonade and bake sale at the Flea Off Market in downtown Louisville to raise money for the garden. So to wrap up, what’s growing in the garden this summer? Cabbage, raspberries, peppers, rhubarb, kale, cilantro, lemongrass, arugula, dill, herbs of all kinds, wildflowers, tomatoes, potatoes cucumbers, okra, lettuces, radishes, beans, and peas. Swing by Americana to check it out, or contact Alex Udis with any questions or comments – email@example.com.
Americana Serves the Youth
Children in the summer program help out building an herb spiral in the garden.
By Rachel Slaughter, AmeriCorps Vista
Summer 2012 is fast approaching and we at Americana are getting excited! The summer is a time to learn, play, and explore for the kids who enroll in our annual Summer Program. Summer Program will run from June 11 to July 26, 2012, with camps for kids in 1st through 12th grades. Our elementary school summer camps will focus on different topics each week with fun themes like science and nature, music and dance, and international sports. Kids will be excited to learn and play at the same time with ACC favorites like math basketball, “Mad Lib” vocabulary, and nature scavenger hunts. Of course, like the years past, summer wouldn’t be complete at ACC without Lavinrac (our version of a carnival) and the end of the summer Variety Show. Teens in the Summer Program will also have the opportunity to learn and create this summer as they choose classes that will build upon their interests and maybe even introduce them to new hobbies. Teens in our program will get to choose from exciting classes to build the summer of their dreams. They’ll get down to business with programs from Junior Achievement and break a sweat with classes like Basketball and Girls Dance. We’re also looking forward to offering classes with SPAVA (Society for the Prevention of Aggressiveness and Violence among Adolescents) to prepare our teens to be ambassadors of peace and social responsibility. Classes on college readiness and
For more information about summer programming, please contact Rebecka Bloomer or Rachel Slaughter at (502) 366-7813 or by email at Rebecka@americanacc.org or Rachel@americanacc.org various forms of visual arts will also help them build a skill set for the future. Our youth staff help us implement all these great summer activities. These teens are employed through Kentuckiana Works’s Summer Works program, and 7 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates. We are very grateful for all their hard work in putting these programs together, as well as getting all our youth enthused about the upcoming summer! We’re excited to grow with our youth this summer and prepare them for their next year of school. And, as always, if you are interested in helping out to deliver this hands-on educational experience to our kids, let us know! There are many ways to get involved in our Summer Program!
VITA is Vital for Another Year By Maria Koerner, Grants Manager
Americana Community Center completed another successful tax season as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, in partnership with the Louisville Asset Building Coalition and the Internal Revenue Service. Low- to moderate-income families and individuals benefit from free tax preparation services at VITA sites throughout Louisville. This is a very valuable service for lowincome populations since these taxpayers use paid preparers and services with high fees, resulting in less financial resources. At Americana, certified VITA volunteers assist taxpayers free of charge and make sure they get the tax benefits they are eligible for. Americana’s site is open Wednesday evenings and Saturdays throughout tax season. It is a great service for the neighborhood, helping U.S. born families and individuals as well as refugees and immigrants newer to Louisville. Navigating the tax system can be challenging for all populations and the VITA program aims to help the taxpayer gain knowledge of the system and increase their financial literacy. During this tax season, 331 returns were prepared at Americana’s site. The site was busier this year, with 100 more returns prepared than last tax season. We had volunteer tax preparers certified at a variety of levels, helping those with simple to more complex returns. Halfway through the tax season, one site coordinator became certified to assist foreign students in preparing their returns when this was identified as a growing need. The returns prepared at Americana generated a total of $540,943 in tax refunds, including $227,491 of Earned Income Tax Credit. The site was
managed again this year by two site coordinators: Maria Koerner, ACC staff member and Volunteer Site Coordinator Nermin Nuredin. Nermin not only helped at Americana, but four other VITA sites around Louisville, on top of a full-time job. His dedication to the program earned him a 2012 Leadership Award from the Louisville Asset Building Coalition. Kristina Mielke, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, spent her Wednesday evenings and Saturdays serving as a greeter and assisting taxpayers with intake forms, as well as providing Spanish language interpretation. “What I loved about volunteering was listening to other people’s stories and getting the chance to interact with a diversity of cultures,” said Kristina. “The VITA program is a microcosm of Americana and it is so cool to have the chance to meet so many different people.” This program could not be possible without the hard work and dedication of volunteers. A special thank you to this year’s VITA volunteers: John Bloomer, John Boyd, Christie Ferreira, David Noll, Kristina Mielke, Sylvain Mulinda, Nermin Nuredin, Jenna Rawson and Shana Wooden. If you would be interested in volunteering for this program next year (free training is provided) or would like more information, please e-mail Maria Koerner, firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great way to give back to the community and see tangible results of how you are making a difference.
Our work is not possible without the generous support of our funding and program partners. A big thank you to all of our supporters. Adelante Hispanic Achievers; AT&T Foundation; Bellarmine University; Boy Scouts; Broadway Baptist Church; Brown-Forman Corporation; Capstone Realty; Catholic Charities of Louisville; Center for Nonprofit Excellence; Church of the Epiphany; Community Foundation of Louisville; Corporation for National Community and Community Service (AmeriCorps* VISTA Program); C E & S Foundation; Community Action Partnership; Cralle Foundation; Dare to Care; Dollar General Literacy Foundation; Every1Reads; Fabricated Metals, LLC; Family Health Centers, Inc.; Fifth Third Bank; GE Employees Community Fund; General Mills Foundation; Gheens Bridges to Tomorrow 2.0; Gheens Foundation; Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana; Girardâ€™s Hardware; Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels; Hispanic Latino Coalition; Humana; IBM Reading Companion Grant Program; Internal Revenue Service, James Graham Brown Foundation; Jefferson County Public Schools; Kentuckiana Works; Kentucky Center ArtsReach program; Kentucky Foundation for Women; Kentucky Office for Refugees; Kentucky Refugee Ministries; Kosair Charities; Louisville Asset Building Coalition; Louisville Free Public Library; Louisville/ Jefferson County Metro Government; Louisville Metro Council; Metro United Way; National Center for Family Literacy; Norton Foundation; Old National Bank Foundation; Owsley Brown Charitable Foundation; PNC Bank Foundation; Republic Bank Foundation; Safeco Giving Program; Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Ministry Fund; South Louisville Community Ministries; St. Williams Church; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky; University of Louisville; UPS Foundation; ValuMarket; WHAS Crusade for Children; YMCA. We want to say a special thank you to our funding partners who have awarded grants since our last newsletter: General Mills Foundation Kentucky Center: ArtsReach Grant Program Louisville Asset Building Coalition: Tax Preparation Grant Norton Foundation Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky William E. Barth Foundation