Project SHINE, Philadelphia is ready to start the fall semester of volunteer service at the Intergenerational Center at Temple University. Opportunities for college students and older adults interested in volunteer service to elder immigrants and refugees are gearing up for a start in September. Highlighting our tutoring/coaching service this year are technology literacy for elder adult (computer and smart devices) and conversational English for immigrant/refugee elders. This opportunity is particularly suited for volunteers with bilingual and/or bicultural backgrounds. If you are looking for volunteer service opportunities around center city Philadelphia, please be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 26th, 2012, Patience Lehrman was one of 12 Champions of Change alum invited to speak with President Obama about her work in promoting immigrant integration across the country.
A little over a year ago, the White House created the Champions of Change program to recognize ordinary Americans across the countries who are doing extraordinary work in their communities. During the last year we have held more than 40 Champions of Change events, honoring over 500 Champions from all 50 states.These are people who are working to end youth and domestic violence, to green our cities, and to renew and strengthen communities through service and innovation. They are working to promote immigrant integration, to provide housing counseling, and to establish broadband access in rural areas of the country. As President Obama said, “By making their communities better places to live, our Champions are helping to ensure that our country’s best days lie ahead.”
To celebrate the program’s one-year anniversary, President Obama met with a handful of Champions of Change. He learned about the work they are doing in their communities and asked what being a Champion of Change means to them.
Each one of them had a unique answer. As Patience Lehrman, National Director of Project SHINE noted, the Champions program expanded the platform of her work nationally and internationally. Five months after the Champions of Change designation, she was invited as a guest presenter at a global immigrant integration conference in Hamburg, Germany.
As the President has often said, change doesn’t happen from the top down and it doesn’t always come from Washington. It happens from the bottom up, and it is driven by people like the 12 remarkable individuals who came to the White House.See link below for full story.
Post by Patience Lehrman
Today marks the last day I serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Project SHINE. Reflecting on my experiences with the organization and community, I find it very fitting that I am ending my VISTA term a week before our country nationally recognizes the need to take the time to offer thanks for that which we have in our lives. For me, the concept of gratefulness only begins to describe how honored I feel having worked with the communities and volunteers involved with Project SHINE. Trite as it may sound, I believe that any measurable contribution I gave to the community cannot match how much I gained from my time with Project SHINE and especially the communities SHINE serves.
There are many moments which bring me pride and joy from my time as a VISTA. Working with the Tyler Art School and Community Learning Network at Temple University on the Immigrant Voices exhibit, managing the Tai Chi program with the Chinese and Latino elders from Coffee Cup Senior Center and students from the Department of Critical Languages, and running the Immigration Awareness Movie Series to draw awareness to immigration issues of today are some of my favorite projects. Making immigration an open and accessible topic in these ways, I truly believe, allows us all to see immigrants as people, not problems and immigration as an issue that affects us all. Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "we are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness," and I very much frame my understanding of this experience and the knowledge I have gained from that concept.
Looking back, my most cherished memories are from the occasions in which I was able to interact with the remarkable community members SHINE with whom SHINE works. The look in one learner's eyes when he finally understood the difference between a "d' and a "b" is an expression I will never forget. The tenderness and appreciation on another learner's face when he articulated his love for America and why he wanted to gain his United States citizenship, too, is ingrained in my memory. By that same token, the depth of pain of a female refugee who shared how she held her child as he starved to death in a refugee camp is not something I will ever allow myself to forget. While I will never fully understand what she feels, I carry her story with me and will do my very best to ensure that fewer women will suffer as she suffered.
These are just some of the many stories and memories I came to experience during my time at SHINE, and every single day I marveled at the strength of the spirits of those immigrants and refugees who had been through more struggle in one day than many of us can imagine in a lifetime; yet, somehow they are able to see the good in the world.
I would be entirely remiss without recognizing the terrific, passionate, and eager volunteers who dedicate their time to the communities SHINE serves. Their efforts and energy regularly re-invigorated and reminded me why I also chose to volunteer in the first place. Each and every one of them are incredible; and simply put, SHINE would not be SHINE without them.
It is with a heart fully of love and respect that I offer my deepest gratitude for those who shared their stories and lives with me over this past year. Because of them, I am a better person than I was a year ago; because of them, I am forever changed. Thank you.