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Centering Those Served

Reflections from the Oregon AmeriCorps Kick-Off

Eight JV AmeriCorps Members attended the Oregon AmeriCorps Kick-Off in Portland on Monday, Oct. 8th. A few of these members are pictured above (L to R): Helena Vaughan, Hannah Kosel, Emily Reiling, Natalie Doggett, Brie Baumert, and Daphne Saul.

Resolutions Northwest Plenary 2
Resolutions Northwest led two sessions on equity. Asking questions like, “Who is not at the table?” and “Who is centered in your service?” provided the AmeriCorps members with tools to promote racial inclusion throughout their service year.

On October 8th, AmeriCorps members from across the state of Oregon gathered in Portland to kick off the service year. JVC Northwest’s AmeriCorps members were able to network with others, learn more about racial equity from Resolutions Northwest, and unpack how to center those they are serving in their specific performance measures.

The morning began by members breaking off into locale-specific regions to discuss their service sites, the challenges they may face in service, and how to build on each other’s strengths to support one another throughout their service year. Later, we reflected on the White Savior Complex (when white people attempt to fix problems they don’t fully understand in order to make themselves feel better) and brainstormed the outcomes we want to see in our communities and how these must drive our practices and values. The event, put on by Oregon Volunteers, provided a break from direct service and the opportunity to grow in how to serve others well.

Here are a few members’ reflections and action steps:

“An action step I’m striving to incorporate into my service this year is to focus on centering my clients every day as opposed to centering efficiency or productivity at the agency. By centering on the people I am directly serving, I am better able to hear them and their needs, be wholly present, and display respect and empathy, which can lead to a positive and authentic relationship with clients.”

– Brie Baumert (Portland Morris ’18-19)
JV AmeriCorps member Natalie Doggett presents their groups’ take-aways from the health performance measure workshop with a fellow Oregon AmeriCorps member.

“I’d say that for me, a takeaway would be to constantly question and think critically about the systems and structures in place, from an organizational to a national level, considering who they are set up to benefit and who they leave out. Listening directly to the voices of the communities we’re serving is critical to making sure their needs and wants are being met.”

– Helena Vaughan (Portland Morris ’18-19)

“I am now hyper aware of the ways that society is shaped around/caters to whiteness, and I think it is important to find ways to give people voices that would not otherwise be heard.”

– Daphne Saul (Portland Mac ’18-19)

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