Final 2017 Newsletter

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“Every ending is a new beginning…”

Madison’s Goal for the Month: Celebrate victories, big and small.

The end of our service year is upon us and graduation is coming very soon. First of all, congratulations to all of you who stuck with AmeriCorps, though it might have been tough at times or personal things came up that made carrying on that much more difficult. It is a huge accomplishment and you all should be proud! And that’s what I want to focus on this month; and the months going forward.

Sometimes, I have a difficult time taking ownership of my victories. For whatever reason, it’s much easier for me to see what is going wrong rather than what’s going right. But I know it would serve me well to pay attention to what I am succeeding at, not what I’m failing at. From this point on, I want to take ownership (and maybe even toot my own horn a little bit!) and acknowledge that this year wasn’t always easy, but I’m still here. Here I am, after pushing through all of the little personal hurdles I’ve had this year, after encountering occasionally stressful situations at my center, after feeling like I couldn’t keep going. Here I am; a success in and of itself.

I made it! WE made it! I hope you all can acknowledge this victory for yourself and celebrate all of the hard work and determination you put into this year. You deserve to celebrate yourselves!



For you new Jobseekers…


Here’s a great resource Ann shared for all of you that will be seeking employment come September!

Kalen’s Team Meeting Reflection: Self-Care

“Last month’s team meeting was on self- care. My definition of self-care is taking the time out to care for yourself and putting yourself first. Sometimes we are so busy treating for others that we forget to treat ourselves. It is important to take at least one day out of the month to treat yourself!”


Ways to treat yourself:

– Spa Day (nails, hair and massage)

– Go to the movies

– Indulge in a delicious treat (smoothie, cupcake or pie)

– Take the day off or even a couple of days to either relax or go on a mini vacay!

– Buy yourself something nice (clothes or jewelry)

The I. Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“There are 3 kinds of people in this world:  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

“You gotta step out to find out.”

“The key to having it all is realizing you already do.”

Until next time…….be inspired!!!


From Ann’s Desk

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“The end of the 2016-2017 Access Workforce Development AmeriCorps program is here and it seems like the year has zipped by.  We have an awesome team of eight members and, along with several who have left for great opportunities, these members have completed and surpassed all the goals set out for them.  I’ve seen members through some difficult times and seen challenges bring new and expanded awareness of strengths.  I’ve seen simple acts of kindness towards each other and towards customers that I will remember.   We’ve had a lot of fun together in team meetings and in group service projects and I am grateful that I have been able to learn and expand my understanding each and every day, and I hope that all of the members reflect on the unique value in the year that is ending for each of them.   I have found a wonderful group of women in this group and cherish my time with all of you.

Our members have reached out in our community and touched the lives of many people. Your expert assistance has helped many to achieve employment, for which I am sure they are grateful.  And, your ability to listen, really listen to your customers and to each other is a skill that will carry you throughout your lives.   We all seek this–to be heard and acknowledged for who we are.  It is a great gift to give to others.  Several members have plans in place, some are looking for their next step.  My wish for all of the members is to remember the lessons learned in this year, the partnerships built and friendships nourished, and to continue your efforts to build a strong community for all people to flourish.”


Congratulations on a great year of service!

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June 2017 Newsletter

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Madison’s Goal of the Month: Quit comparison.


“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’m sure many of you have heard that before. It’s amazing how such a small statement can carry so much truth. For me, one of my worst habits is comparison, even though most of the time it is something I do subconsciously. On a normal day, I might look at job description and compare my apparent “lack” of skills to the skills that the job asks of its applicants. I feel “less than” or “not enough” to apply to those jobs. Then, I might sign on to Facebook and see all of the amazing things that are happening in their lives of my peers. Without trying to, I compare where they are to where I am. I feel like I’m not doing enough.

This month, in an effort to stop comparing myself, I’ve decided to take a break from things like personal social media to focus more on the positive in my own life. I’m hoping that the more time I spend with myself I will build the habit of positive thinking.

If you are like me and struggle with comparison, join me! Here is a guide to stop comparing yourself to others.

Chef Michelle’s Fresh Fruit Salad


It’s finally summer!!!  The kids are out of school and things are slowing down for the wonderfully relaxing days of summer.  Well, it’s also beach time so here’s a refreshing indulgence that still keeps us on point and looking great in our swimwear.  This does have a slight kick from the grated ginger so you can omit it if you don’t like it a little spicy or increase it to taste if you are like me and enjoy the punch up that ginger adds.


2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
3 bananas, sliced (you can skip this if you don’t like bananas)
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 cup seedless grapes
2 cups blueberries


Bring orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, orange zest, and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.

Layer the fruit in a large, clear glass bowl in this order: pineapple, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, grapes, and blueberries. Pour the cooled sauce over the fruit. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before serving.  You can also serve the fruit in a watermelon half and add the watermelon in as well. Garnish with a sprig of mint!

Kalen’s Team Service Reflection

On June 5th, our AmeriCorps team participated in team service with The Arc of the Triangle. The Arc had a wonderful talent show that was held at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cary. Our team helped with set/clean up, passed out programs and served refreshments. The show featured two talented choirs which were the M’n’M singers of Raleigh and Grace Notes of Cary. We also enjoyed the individual/small group singing acts. Dance acts featured songs such as the “Electric Slide” and Taylor Swift’s hit song “Shake it Off.” The entire night was extremely fun and high energy!

The I. Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“A person without a vision for his future always returns to his past.”

“Everyone who wanders is not lost.”

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

Until next time…….be inspired!!!


Special Mentions

“At the Swinburne office, we have had the pleasure to work with Kathleen from Wake Tech. Kathleen has been a partner at our center for two years. She does wonderful work at the Raleigh Men’s Shelter on Wilmington Street and teaches Human Resource Development classes. She will be greatly missed here at our office.” – Kalen


One of our members, Michelle, has been offered a position with The Daily Grind at Swinburne locations. With all of her experience as a restaurant owner and as an AmeriCorps member, we know Michelle will thrive in her new position. We are so proud and wish you the best in this new endeavor! Thank you for your service and congratulations!



May 2017 Newsletter

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Madison’s Goal of the Month: Lighten up!

Spring is in full-swing and we’re well on our way to summer, but I’m lethargically moving through it as if it’s still winter. I’m holding onto all of this extra weight from past seasons, literally and figuratively, and am ready to shed those pounds! My goal for May is the lighten up by spring cleaning my life. It’s time to declutter by leaving all my old junk and bad habits behind. Here’s to a lighter, more carefree life!


If you’re interested in joining me in my goal, here’s an article on various ways to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health by spring cleaning your life: Spring Cleaning for the Mind

Below is a checklist with tips from the article:


Chef Michelle’s Avocado & Cucumber Salad

avocado salad

Well, summer will be here before we know it so this is my delicious attempt at getting in shape before season.  This is so light and refreshing yet because of the avocado so creamy and satisfying.  This is sure to be a hit at your table.


3/4 to 1 pound seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce (I used Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish


Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl. Whisk together mayo, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley.


Kalen’s National Service Reflection

Last month, our team participated in National Service Week with United Way of The Greater Triangle. At a warehouse, a total of 254 volunteers sorted through books that were Pre-K through 3rd grade.  A total of 40,000 books were brought in by volunteers and partners. The books were distributed to students in five Triangle counties.

With National Service Week happening last month, I have decided to create a Wordle on what service means to me.

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Here are some photos from our National Service event:

The I.Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“Pleasant speech increases persuasiveness.”

“Perseverance always outlasts persecution.”

“It’s not the will to win, but the preparation to win, that makes the difference.”

Until next time…….be inspired!!!


Photos from recent team services:

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April 2017 Newsletter

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Madison’s Goal of the Month: Define my career goals

By now, we’ve past the half-way mark in our year of service! I know for a lot of us that means we are really starting to think about what is happening next once we’ve finished our term and perhaps even starting to pursue new opportunities. For me, it’s quite daunting to think about what to do next: What do I want to do? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be working for/with? I keep asking myself these questions of which I’m not at all sure of the answer, without taking the time to sit down and really think about it. This month, I want to try to take some much needed time to sit down, reflect on where I am and to think about what direction I want to be going in. Hopefully, by clearly defining the things I want and writing them down on paper, it will help to ease the stress of wondering “what’s next?”.

If you are interested in joining me in this goal, here are some great resources to help guide you while defining your own career goals:


Chef Michelle’s Easy Quiche


What says Spring has sprung more than a fresh quiche served with a refreshing salad or fruit (well, maybe the Easter bunny…)?  Anyway, try this one; it is super easy and very forgiving.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.  Bon Appetit!!!


5 large eggs

3⁄4 cup milk

1 frozen 9-inch deep dish pie shell (you can also make your own as I usually do)

2 cups shredded cheese

1 cup chopped drained cooked vegetables

1 cup diced any type of deli meat or 1 cup any other cooked diced meat, seafood or poultry**


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add filling and milk and mix well. Pour mixture into frozen pie crust.

Place quiche on cookie sheet and bake on the middle oven rack for 45-50 minutes, or until top is browned and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve with a crisp green salad or maybe some fresh fruit on the side.

** This can also be a meatless quiche, just use 2 cups of veggies instead.

Kalen’s Team Service Reflection

walk ms

This past Saturday April 8, 2017 was the Triangle’s MS Walk. The walk was located at the PNC Arena. The name of Santisha’s team was Team Royalty. The team slogan was “Keep S’Myelin”.  This event was a fantastic turnout that would not have been a success without the amazing volunteers. We had a total of 20 volunteers!


Here are some photos:

The I.Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“When we fill our thoughts with the right things, the wrong ones have no room to enter”.

“I never lose.  Either I win or I learn”.

“F.E.A.R. can have two meanings:  Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise…the choice is yours.

Until next time…….be inspired!!!


Special Mentions

“During the week of March 24-31, NC Works Career Center (Swinburne Office) assisted in the donation drive to collect Long sleeve shirts for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers with Telamon Corporation.  These items will help protect them from harmful pesticides and dangerous high temperatures while working in the fields.  We are grateful to all participants that helped us to collect a total of 369 shirts.” – Shelby, AmeriCorps Member

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Our former AmeriCorps member Pamela was presented with an outstanding award. The award she received by Wake County Human Services was The Unsung Hero award for grandmother of the year. She was given this award due to her love and care for her six grandkids.

Congrats Pam!


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March 2017 Newsletter

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And Spring has sprung!

Madison’s Goal of the Month: Participate in active, open discussions when the opportunity presents itself.

After this month’s visit to the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, I felt incredibly saddened by the more gruesome aspects of our nation’s history and simultaneously moved and inspired by the individuals who have stood up for justice and made such a great impact on our country and even our state. I went home and told all of my friends and family about it and how it has motivated me to learn and do more.  As someone who craves connection with others and getting to know who they are, I find it fairly easy to talk to anyone. When it comes to difficult conversations, though, sometimes I shy away. It might be out of fear of the unknown or concern that I won’t have the right response. I’ve come to realize that the importance of opening lines of dialogue is way greater than my personal anxieties. I want to challenge myself to continue forward in difficult discussions; to worry less about what will be said or what I should say, and to listen actively and ask questions when I don’t understand. I want to find courage to speak up, respectfully, when I know something is wrong. I want to challenge myself to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. These are things I’ve always tried to do, but am realizing that the stakes are higher now and the need to be engaged, informed, and connected in our society is paramount.

This 20-minute TED talk by Bryan Stevenson about the need to talk about injustice is a little longer than some, but is definitely worth watching or listening to when you have the time.


Chef Michelle’s Garlic and Pea Soup with Whipped Cream

A sure tell-tale sign that spring is here is the abundance of fresh peas in the market.  This recipe is a wonderfully refreshing way to use them.  Don’t tell the kids this is good for them because they are sure to love this soup as much as the adults.  This soup can be served warm or chilled.

pea soup


2 (1 more if you like it garlicky) cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups shelled fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed

⅓ cup heavy cream


Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mashed garlic, season with salt and pepper, add 4 cups water to saucepan and bring to a boil. Add peas, reduce heat, and simmer gently until peas are bright green and tender, about 5 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then purée soup in a blender with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, adding water to thin if needed, until smooth. Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing on solids; season with salt and pepper again if adjustment is needed. Reheat briefly (to preserve color) before serving.

Beat cream with a whisk in a medium bowl to soft peaks; season with salt and pepper. Serve soup with a swirl of whipped cream.

DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

***The key to a vibrant green (not khaki) soup: Bring the water up to a boil quickly over high heat, and err on under-cooking the peas to preserve their color.

Kalen’s Civil Rights Museum Reflection


“This past Saturday our team went to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. There is a lot I can say about this museum visit but to sum it up in three words, I would have to say: Educational, Inspiring and Historical! I was very excited to expand my knowledge on the Civil Rights Movement. The reason I say this trip was inspiring is because the tour guide inspired our group at the end of the tour to make a change and speak up if there is an injustice being done. The trip was historical due to the fact that there were actual pieces of history inside the museum and not a replica. The museum contained the Woolworth lunch counter, which really took me back in time when I first walked into the exhibit. The trip was educational because I learned new information in every exhibit. I am so grateful that I was able to see this historical museum.”

Here are some photos from our visit:

The I.Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is the only thing you see!”

“A wise person knows that there is something to be learned from everyone.”

“How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.”

Until next time…….be inspired!!!


March Babies

Let’s wish a collective “Happy Birthday” to our members who have birthdays this month!

Madison (March 8)

Michelle (March 21)

Happy Birthday!

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* Special Mention*

We want to wish a fond farewell to Pamela Mason who served at the Fuquay-Varina NC Works center! Congratulations on your new job with Easter Seals, Pam! We are all excited for you and wish nothing but the best for you.

March Team Service


February 2017 Newsletter


Happy February, folks!

Madison’s Goal of the Month: Self Care/Love

Valentine’s day is here and I hope that you all are spending some quality time with all of your loved ones. It’s important to nurture those relationships with others, as well as to nurture your relationship with yourself. In our service, we spend much of our time focusing on helping others before helping ourselves. As someone who has experienced both the emotional and physical toll of stress and neglecting my own needs, I want be more intentional about self-care and providing myself with the time and space I need to re-energize. Hopefully, being more attentive to maintaining my physical and emotional health will only help improve the attention and service I provide to others, and the love I provide to those who matter most to me. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

If you are interested, here are some great guides from on self-care and de-stressing that I thought might be helpful in our daily lives and service:

9 Two Minute Tips Quickly De-stress

5 Self-Care Strategies For Care Professionals

Burned Out? 5 Things You Can Do Daily to Feel Better

Chef Michelle’s Easiest Truffles Ever

Well, it’s February and love is in the air.  Why not make these simply delicious truffles for all your loved ones?  They are so very easy and look absolutely beautiful when placed in a decorative box on a sheet of wax paper or in individual candy cup paper.  Don’t forget to tie a pretty bow around the box with a special note!



1 bag of chocolate chips (bitter-sweet or semi-sweet)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine chocolate and cream. Cook, stirring, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in flavoring. Pour into a small dish and refrigerate until set, but not hard, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Form balls and roll in toppings such as sprinkles, cocoa, nuts, powdered sugar, etc.


The I.Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year) by Tracey

“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen.” 

“What gets measured gets done.”

“[In life] I got two choices, what I do is, make moves or make excuses.”

So until next time…….be inspired!!!


February Babies

Let’s wish a collective “Happy Birthday” to one of our members who has a birthday this month!

Tisha (February 24)

Enjoy your day, Tisha!

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February Team Service

“On Friday, February 3rd, our team went to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Along with our AmeriCorps team, there were two other groups: Cisco and NC State international students. We participated in salvage. Salvage is food that cannot be sold at the grocery store. There are a variety of reasons why it cannot be sold in the grocery stores. One of the big reasons is due to the foods appearance. The food may have dents, or torn packaging due to it falling off the shelves or forklift in the warehouse. There are also in some cases where a store may have an overstock of a certain item and need to get rid of it because there is no more space within the warehouse. A couple of years ago, salvage food would have been thrown away. Thanks to the Food Bank, they are able to send their trucks to local grocery stores to pick up that food that now goes to feed the hungry.

With the help of Cisco and NC State students, we boxed 6,100 pounds of food and prepared 5,136 meals in an hour. Go Team!!”



January 2017 Newsletter


Happy New Year!

Madison’s Goal of The Month: Be Less “Goal” oriented, more “behavior” oriented.

It being January and knowing that many of us have certain goals in mind for the year, I thought this to be perfectly appropriate. If you are like me, and countless others, you make a New Years Resolution the first week of the year – and maybe it goes well for a while- but then you forget about it. I’ve realized that part of the issue of making them stick is focusing too much on the end goal and results rather than the small behaviors that I could change to meet that goal over time. Things do take time and effort! I am going to dedicate myself to focusing more on the behaviors that I can change and adopt to inch closer to my goals.

I want to wish you all well while working on meeting your goals, whether they be personal or professional. For some inspiration and tips on goal achievement, here is a 10-minute Ted talk by Reggie Rivers, a former running back for the Denver Broncos and current motivational speaker. This is a fun, quick little talk about focusing on behaviors, not just the end goal. Check it out!

Chef Michelle’s Black Bean Soup


Winter is upon us and we are desperately trying to work off all those extra calories we consumed during the holidays.  So, here is my super yummy, super filling black bean soup recipe.  If you absolutely must, you can add diced ham or chicken to this recipe, but I think it is a rich hearty soup on its own and you won’t miss the meat.


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 carrot, diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 packet of Sazon
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chili with seeds, divided
    • 2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 carton low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
    • ½ Bunch chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 small bunch chopped green onions
    • Salt and pepper to taste


    1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, 2/3 of the cilantro, 2/3 of the scallion and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in cumin, Sazon and jalapeño. Add beans and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper
    2. Ladle soup into bowls. Pass remaining cilantro and green onions.


The I.Q. Corner

(Inspirational Quotes that energize you to “get things done” this year)

“If you think you can – you can.  If you think you can’t – you’re right.”

“Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch is a cinch.”

“The good news is that the bad news can be turned into good news if you just change your attitude!”

So until next time…….be inspired!!!


Program Success Stories

Here’s one from Kalen:

“Very often customers leave the NC Works Career center telling us that they have an interview. After a while, we assume that they have obtained employment because we no longer hear back from them. Just recently one of our customers, Travis, came back telling us that he is now employed. He is now working at Carrabba’s Italian Grill and volunteering at The Green Chair Project Travis has been working with our community partners EDSI and Job Corps.”

Go Travis!

Special Mentionsstep_up

As many of us know, StepUp ministry is a huge partner of our AmeriCorps team. Recently, Kalen asked some of our cohort what they liked most about doing their outreach with StepUp. Here’s what they said:

Successful Santisha: My favorite part about serving at StepUp is the transformation of the people. When individuals come in, they feel hopeless and leave out feeling empowered.

Sensitive Shelby: My favorite part about serving at StepUp is that it feels like family. From day one at the beginning they made me feel comfortable and welcomed. StepUp always gave me guidance. It makes me feel good because I am giving back to the community.

Thank you StepUp for letting our AmeriCorps team be a part of your incredible organization and mission!

January Babies

Let’s wish a collective “Happy Birthday” to all of our members who have a birthday this month!

Tracy (January 6)

Kalen (January 25)

We hope you all enjoy(ed) your special days. You deserve it!

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January’s Photo Gallery

We had a great time at the Raleigh Boys & Girls Club for MLK Day! Here are the photos!