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Remembering and Rebuilding

by Christina G.

To honor the first annual September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, Rebuilding Together, the organization I am serving my AmeriCorps term with partnered with United We Serve to distribute 50,000 outreach bags filled with energy efficient savings information in 19 states.

I serve at Rebuilding Together Orange County. My fellow AmeriCorps member, Kelsey and I planned to distribute 500 bags in three targeted neighborhoods. We reached out to other local community organizations and received materials from Anaheim Public Utilities, Community Action Partners, the Alliance to Save Energy, Southern California Edison, Orange County Red Cross, Latino Health Access and more.

We then recruited volunteers to help put the bags together and prepare them for distribution. We included recycled pencils, an energy efficient light bulb, an energy efficient night light and magnet with our paper and pamphlet materials. We also drafted a letter introducing our organization and informing residents we offer free home repairs to qualified low-income homeowners.

Our first bag distribution date was September 9 at an unincorporated county island, El Modena. RTOC AmeriCorps and staff met at the El Modena community center and were greeted by the local high school students who attend the community center's after school program. We split up into teams and dropped the bags door to door. One volunteer joked asking, "So are we going to be getting paid for this?" His friend answered, "No, we're not getting paid money, but when you do good things for other people good things will happen to you."

Although it was a warm Southern California day, the students enjoyed themselves and we successfully distributed 150 bags to the local community. On September 11 we went to Midway City. Alongside Orange County Red Cross community volunteers we prepared 250 bags and hit the streets with bags in hand. Every which way you looked you could see someone carrying brown bags and wearing powder blue "Rebuilding Together United We Serve" tee shirts. We encountered some homeowners watering lawns or retrieving mail. We let them know we had a gift for them from Rebuilding Together containing information on saving money. Some seemed intrigued, some surprised, some happy. They all thanked us politely.

Our last distribution event was a part of a larger community health and wellness event. The La Colonia/Independencia county island was holding its annual community walk from the neighborhood to a local park. The day consisted of games and physical activities, information on healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Our bags were given out as community members arrived at the park following their one-mile walk. We were happy to be of service and provide opportunities for others to serve on a day which symbolizes what we can do as Americans when we come together and help others.

The information provided can help homeowners save money while helping to cut down on energy use. RTOC is now back into the swing of things, planning home rebuild projects for this fall. It was nice to work on an event that was different and has the ability to reach homeowners in need in the community we serve.

Click here to read more Energy and the Environment stories.

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