In recognition of AmeriCorps Week 2014, First 5 San Bernardino AmeriCorps members left students at E. Neal Roberts Elementary with a message of hope on their school grounds.
First 5 San Bernardino AmeriCorps, San Bernardino City Unified School District, and Hope Through Housing, volunteered 40 hours to paint a mural designed by Luis Soto and Alex Aguirre called “The Power of Learning”. The mural depicts an open book with the words “Hope” and Spanish translation ”Esperanza”, crowned with the school’s koala bear mascot, and symbols for the alphabet, math, science, and music. A music teacher, doctor and an astronaut stand as icons for career aspirations.
AmeriCorps members participate in AmeriCorps Week annually by selecting an activity such as short-term service projects, in an effort to highlight contributions that AmeriCorps members bring to communities that are often overlooked.
In addition to volunteering to service projects like school improvements and community gardens, they spend time inside classrooms as school readiness coaches for San Bernardino County Preschools. The First 5 San Bernardino AmeriCorps team including Diana Yegge, Ernesto Beltran, Liliana Ferrer, and Victoria Arce, actively pursue community service projects that align with the National AmeriCorps to facilitate in the County of San Bernardino.
The opportunity to paint the mural came about through participation in a Healthy San Bernardino collaborative meeting, which connected First 5 AmeriCorps member Ernesto Beltran, and Brittany Estrada of Hope Through Housing. Upon meeting with principal Beatriz Gonzalez of E. Neal Roberts Elementary, she agreed to the idea and welcomed the project at her site.
AmeriCorps was not alone in their effort to get the mural painted. Students, parents, school staff and friends of the AmeriCorps members applied chalk, spray paint and about 10 gallons of paint over the mural to see it completed. They had the opportunity to leave their personal mark with handprints, framing the school’s new quad area stage mural.
“To see the joy in the faces of the students when they saw the mural completed is beyond any monetary payment I could receive,” said muralist Alex Aguirre, who contributed his talents to the project.
Those sentiments were echoed from many of the participants in the project. Those with personal connections to the school had desire to have an impact and an opportunity to give back.
Mary Alvarez, Supervisor for First 5 San Bernardino AmeriCorps said, “We’re proud of our team for bringing a such an inspiring message to students at the school, and ‘getting things done’ in true AmeriCorps fashion.”
For more information on First 5 San Bernardino AmeriCorps or First 5 San Bernardino’s programs, call (909) 386-7706 or visit www.first5sanbernardino.org.