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AT&T Impact Day (Redmond, WA) 2019

AT&T Impact Day Chronicle (Redmond, WA) 2019

When I accepted my position on Team Care Force (TCF), I knew that I would travel to places I have never thought of visiting and places that I’d always wanted to go. Our trip to Redmond, WA falls into the latter. Ever since I was a child growing up in northern New Jersey, I had been enamored with the west coast, specifically Washington State; lush green Pine forests, beautiful rocky beaches, and an appreciation for the ecology and nature that surrounds us all. Dreams of Washington State instilled within me a sense of wanderlust that has driven many of my life choices.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning when I departed Boston for Redmond with my two teammates, Fabiola Meza and Albertine Samson. We were greeted at our SEATAC terminal by a dazzling sunrise that seemed to preface our trip with peacefulness and beauty. When we landed in Seattle, we met up with the other three members of TCF that comprised our event team, Jenna Kim, Rachel Rice, and Mark Johnson. Once we were reunited, it was off to the hotel in Redmond.

Tarmac with Jet Blue plane; another Jet Blue plane is in the distance getting ready for takeoff.
The sunset in Redmond as we walked off the plane.

We stayed at the Marriot Residence Inn at the Redmond Town Center. Nestled right in downtown, we had access to multiple shops and restaurants, as well as many nearby parks, green spaces, and public art displays. Being able to explore this new town was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

After a delicious dinner at Tipsy Cow Burger and a good night’s rest, our team was ready to start service powerfully at Horace Mann Elementary School in Redmond. The projects that we would be prepping for and leading on event day were: new playground graphics for the blacktop, some general landscaping, constructing an outdoor classroom, repainting the sensory room, and painting panel murals. As is common for the Pacific Northwest in the springtime, we were met with rain. While it wasn’t a downpour, the constant drizzle made it impractical to paint the graphics on the blacktop. We instead opted to paint multiplication tables on the stairwells in the school.

Two Care Force members sit on a set of stairs taping stencils to the risers.
My teammates, Senior AmeriCorps members Rachel Rice and Albertine Samson, taped off and stenciled the stairs in preparation for the volunteers.

There were many new prep tasks that I engaged in during prep week, but my favorite two were sod-cutting and spackling. It was very cool seeing how the sod-cutter sliced just low enough to get the roots of the grass, making it easy to roll up like a burrito and carry away. Learning how to fix holes and dents in plaster walls with spackling was also a life skill I am grateful to have learned. During prep, we were joined by Mackenzie Jones and Dylan Maggio-Hucek, two Care Force members of the previous year. Talking with them about their experiences during and after Care Force gave me some new, valuable perspective on my service.

Care Force member using sod cutter on a large grassy area with a building in the background.
Senior AmeriCorps Member Chaim Romanoff works the sod cutter to prepare the ground for the outdoor classroom.

When event day arrived, I was the project coordinator overseeing the construction of the outdoor classroom. Half of my team, the outdoor group, bordered the area of land we had sod-cut with 4” x 4”s, and laid down landscaping fabric to prevent grass and weed growth before then filling the remaining spaces with mulch. The other half of my team constructed the furniture for the space; nine backed benches and one 4’ x 8’ raised stage. My volunteers were amazing! The outdoor group powered through the bordering and mulching quickly and were back inside giving the rest of the team a hand with construction in no time. Once we had everything built and stained, we collectively carried the furniture components out to the mulched area. The willingness of my volunteers to work as a team and their satisfaction in helping the community really made the project enjoyable and fun.

A group of AT&T volunteers wearing blue t-shirts stand around benches with backs and a stage.
My squad of volunteers showing off their newly constructed outdoor classroom.

After all the projects were complete and the event was cleaned up, we headed back to the hotel for showers and off to Seattle for adventures and dinner.  My teammate Jenna is a self-described Starbucks-aholic, and feeling her excitement on the way to the original Starbucks was really cool. After wandering around the historic Pike Place Market (and watching some fishermen throw fish to each other), we made our way to this adorable Italian restaurant. There I had some the best Veal Milanese of my life and reflected with my team on the whole week. Our trip to Redmond, WA and the service we did at Horace Mann Elementary School was incredible. It tops my list as my favorite trip so far this year, and I can’t wait to make it back to Washington and spend more time in the Evergreen state.

Originally published 11/21/2019

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