9/11 Memorial Walk - Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter

                Members of the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter are eager to build this service project and engage the community in remembering this important day in America’s history.  We are also proud to encourage AmeriCorps alums, current members, and local volunteers to remain engaged in their communities.  We plan to partner with the Des Moines Register to secure ongoing newspaper coverage (including photos and news articles) of our September 11th activities and events.  We will also invite local television channels to participate in our events.  We hope that engaging local media outlets throughout the week will further generate excitement and participation in our signature event on September 11th.  Furthermore, the Des Moines Alums Chapter will use Facebook, Twitter, and local community calendars to advertise our events and to encourage participation from alums, current members, and community volunteers.  Finally, our chapter will invite local elected officials, including Governor Branstad, to attend our signature event to secure additional media participation and coverage.

                In partnership with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, the Corporation for National and Community Service Iowa State Office, and the AmeriCorps*NCCC campus in Vinton, the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter will lead a statewide initiative to collect winter coats for homeless veterans and  items for military children and youth.  In Des Moines, our chapter will partner with Central Iowa Shelters & Services and Army One Source to distribute the collected materials.  To promote participation at the statewide level, we will provide a project template to local AmeriCorps programs and members featuring information on the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance.

                In addition, our chapter will plan and implement a number of service projects throughout the week of September 11th.  Alums and current members will host booths at the Des Moines Fire Fest (an annual fundraiser for the police and fire departments), Stand Down (an annual event that connects homeless veterans with social services) and at the Fort Des Moines Museum’s annual Patriot Day Ceremony.  Participants at each event will decorate quilt squares to honor veterans and active duty members.  Local RSVP volunteers will sew the quilt squares together to donate to Central Iowa Shelters and Services to be distributed to homeless veterans.

                To educate children who have no memory of September 11th, our chapter will host an educational event and service project with Community!Youth Concepts.  To further raise awareness of the 10th anniversary of September 11th; our chapter will also host a screening of the film “United 93” at the Des Moines Art Center.  Those who attend the film screening will be required to donate a winter coat or an item for military children and youth.  Following the film screening, a panel discussion with local veterans and military families will further commemorate the military personnel and first responders who served during the September 11th attacks.

                Finally, our chapter will host a signature event on September 11th that will become our first annual September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance Community Walk.  The event will engage more than 250 veterans, activity duty members, military families, emergency service workers, and volunteers from partnering organizations in a tribute event, two-mile remembrance walk and service project.  Prior to the remembrance walk, an Iowa veteran will provide a keynote speech and will lead a moment of silence to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the September 11th attacks.   Participants will then walk the two mile path around Gray’s Lake “in the shoes of a soldier.”  American flags, quotes from military personnel, and statistics from the September 11th attacks will line the path.  Volunteers will then package the items collected throughout the week, participate in reflection activities, and enjoy healthy snacks.

                Designing a service project with Community!Youth Concepts for children who have no memory of 9/11, incorporating a panel discussion after the film screening of “United 93” and creating a tribute video (to prompt AmeriCorps alums, current members, veterans and military families to reflect on September 11th) will provide opportunities to focus upon educating citizens on the continuing impact of the September 11th attacks.  Moreover, our week-long winter coat drive and drive for items for military children and youth, along with the smaller services projects that will take place throughout the week of September 11th, will further educate the community and will impact both veterans and military families.  Finally, the signature event on September 11th will engage veterans, activity duty members, first responders and military families as both volunteers and honorees.

The Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter will encourage AmeriCorps members, alums, and supporters to participate in on-going activities via the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums’ Facebook page and e-mail distribution list. We will also share information with current AmeriCorps State members through the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, with current AmeriCorps*VISTA members through the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Iowa State Office, and with current AmeriCorps*NCCC members through the NCCC Campus in Vinton, IA.

                The Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter has also developed an e-mail distribution list that will be used to send invitations to both alums and current members for all of the 9/11 service project and events, as well as ongoing chapter activities. At each of the events hosted throughout the week of September 11th, a sign-up sheet will allow those who do not currently receive e-mail updates to be added to the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums’ e-mail distribution list. This will hopefully allow more alums and current members to receive e-mail updates regarding opportunities to participate in ongoing networking events, social lunches, and other events sponsored by our local chapter.