June 2017 Newsletter

june border 1


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

newsletter upper border

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.

kalen wordle.png

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:

newsletter lower border

April 2017 Newsletter

april 2017 border 1

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

shelby shirts

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!


april 2017 border 2

March 2017 Newsletter

march 1

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!

Bright air balloons

* 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 Idealist.com 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!

Bright air balloons

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!

Bright air balloons

January’s Photo Gallery

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


December 2016 Newsletter


‘Tis the season…

A Message from Daring Deborah


As I prepare for retirement and another life chapter, it is surely a bittersweet time; I’m excited to be moving into my new phase of life, yet sad to leave this amazing AmeriCorps team and program.  What an amazing AmeriCorps team we have this year.  You are all amazing, talented, passionate, and wonderful women. You teach me everyday to be a better person. What you are doing in AmeriCorps is a model for each and every one of us.  I hope that you continue to find joy in your service.  I know it’s a struggle at times, just remember that you are making a difference to each customer that you come in contact with, and not only with that individual but also their families and friends.  You may not realize it at the time, and neither may they, but know that you are making important contributions that change people’s lives. It has been such an honor and privilege to work with you all.  Please promise that we will stay in touch!  

All the best,



Thank you so much, Deborah, for being our fearless leader and friend these last few months! You are truly wonderful and inspiring to us all. We hope that this life transition treats you kindly and can’t wait to see what comes next for you!

Welcome to our new Program Manager, Ann Gerhardt!


To get to know Ann a little better, she answered a few fun questions for us…

What energizes you?  connecting with amazing people like you!!
What drains you?  being in the mall at the holidays 🙂
What is your favorite word?  love
What is your least favorite word?  hate
What sound do you love? love music
What sound do you hate?  scratching blackboards
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? I am already attempting it.  I wanted to be a life-coach for women and am taking steps to gain coaching certification.  
What profession other than yours would you not want to attempt? motorcycle racer!!
What is your guilty pleasure?  It’s the holiday time, so I’d say, sweets–all kinds!!

Madison’s Goal of the Month: Be Curious and Courageous.

If there is one thing that I have learned in my AmeriCorps service, it is that making connections are important; and can be very hard work. Though our experiences in life can harden us and those around us – making us seem almost unreachable to others at times – we must try to maintain genuine connections in order to keep growing and progressing. Whether it be with our families, friends, or clients that we meet at work, I believe that remaining truly curious to other peoples’ stories and seeking them out will help cultivate deeper and more meaningful connections in our work and our lives, in general. This month, I want to commit myself to being curious about those around me and having the courage to reach out and connect.

Here is a 15-minute TED Talk by Elizabeth Lesser, in which she talks about actively reaching out and connecting with others: Say your truths and seek them in others.1507ae44b56eb7027f0b2eb78244d76d1aa0f4d3_2880x1620

Kalen’s Holiday Survey


However you may spend your holidays, we hope that you all enjoy!

Chef Michelle’s Rolled Sugar Cookies



  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight), I think overnight is best.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

* For the icing – I make icing with confectioners’ sugar and milk. I make it fairly thin, so I can ‘paint’ the icing on the cookies with a pastry brush; thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it just makes your cookies wet and runs off.  You can dress them up with sprinkles, as well as colored granulated sugar on top of the icing!*

The I.Q. Corner

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

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

“You cannot be a big person with a small heart.”

“From great battles come great victories”.

Until next time, be inspired….

Program Success Stories

Here’s one from our very own Tracey 🙂

“Tracey Douglas is an AmeriCorps member at the NC Works Career Center at Tillery in Raleigh.  She is new to the area and was looking for part-time work to supplement her Americorps service and monthly stipend.  Being new to the area she decided to take advantage of the vast amount of resources, information, and opportunity she has access to at her site.  She attended a CVS career fair held at her site back in early November, and within a matter of 4 days she had 2 offers of employment to be a part-time Pharmacy Tech.  Tracey will start her new job on December 10, 2016.”

Congratulations, Tracey!

*Special Mentions*

Pamela will receive her second Master’s degree on December 20 and has been accepted into a Doctoral program to receive her PhD in Business Administration. Way to go, Pam!

And farewell to Bridgette who is starting a new position in Chapel Hill after years with this program. Congratulations, Bridgette! We are all so excited for you.

December’s Photo Gallery

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!