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AmeriCorps MLK Day of Service

Braving frigid temperatures, eight LISC AmeriCorps volunteers spent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in service. The volunteers honored the civic leader by teaching digital literacy to adults and seniors at The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in West Pullman.

It’s an extension of the work the volunteers do on a day-to-day basis at their Financial Opportunity Centers, where they help clients use job search sites, polish their resumes and refresh basic computer skills. This played into the agenda on January 18th, which tackled social media, job search, video and music skills.

“We find that a lot of people we serve don’t know how to use computers,” said Jennifer McClain, Director of Financial Opportunities at LISC Chicago. “It’s true of a lot of people, not just the people that visit our centers.”

Christine Keifer, an AmeriCorps volunteer, assists a client with specific computer questions.

Photos by Annie Grossinger

Alex Atkins, an AmeriCorps volunteer working at North Lawndale Employment Network echoed that sentiment. “Almost everyone can use some refresh of their digital skills.”

And that was precisely what brought people in on one of Chicago’s coldest days.

“I just need more experience,” said Valerie Royster, an attendee. “I need to know more computer skills so I can get on Facebook and other sites.”

While the Kroc Center offers regular classes, the times don’t work with her schedule, so the day-long program on MLK Day was the perfect opportunity. “You have to move with the times and this is where it’s going,” said Royster.

For many, they see increased digital competency as a way to bridge the age gap in their families. Eleanor Moore attended the social media session because it covered sites that her kids use frequently. It was an opportunity for her to learn in a safe and patient atmosphere.

Clients participate in the Social Media 101 session.

“All of my family, especially the young people, know how to do these things, but they don’t have the patience,” said Moore. “They show me and expect that I’ve caught on, but I don’t that way.”

Often, the younger generation in Moore’s family would simply do it for her. In order to learn herself, she decided to get outside help.

Patience is critical in teaching, according to Christine Keifer, an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC). You have to be able to show the same step over and over until the client is comfortable.

“I try to make it relate to their everyday life,” said Keifer. “It’s important that they see how it can work for them specifically.”

LISC AmeriCorps member Jacqueline Guzman teaches adults and seniors how to use Facebook.

Ethel Williams, a retiree, participated in the “Great Sites for Job Seekers” session so she could help her grandchildren when they begin job hunting. It was a way for her to participate more in their next life stage.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is one of threeservice days in which LISC AmeriCorps volunteers participate and come together to serve.

“It’s nice to be able to talk through things and get other people’s perspectives,” said Atkins of his fellow AmeriCorps volunteers. “LISC did a pretty good job helping us be vulnerable and open with one another.”

Posted in Financial Opportunities, Pullman


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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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