By Jeincy Paniagua, 2010-2011 AmeriCorps member for Forks Community Hospital
Since my arrival in Forks two months ago, my site sponsor, Patsy Brown, and I have had our hands full. But, one of my favorite things has been being able to mentor volunteers. And as an Americorps member, it is one of my job responsibilities!
At the office and at events volunteers help make things run smoothly and gain valuable experience in all areas of service. It’s nice that they take time from their busy school schedule to help. Being here for them has been such a wonderful experience. Not only am I fostering future volunteers, but I’m also helping to make an impact on their lives. I hope they go on to impact other people’s lives as well, which I know they will. Some of the things that they have helped us with is SmileMobile, Flu shot clinics, Dia de los Muertos, and especially our Community Advocacy office hours.
We have also been working to help prevent the flu. We are currently holding two flu shot clinics in Forks. At the first flu shot clinic we had a pretty good turnout, but we were hoping to see more community members at our second.
One of the most important traditions that is celebrated here in Forks (due to the large Mexican population) is Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos focuses on gatherings together to pray and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saint's Day (November 1) and All Soul's Day (November 2). Traditions that are connected with it include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Here in Forks with the help of our wonderful volunteers we were able to build an altar in the library.
Our Community Advocacy Hours take place every Wednesday from 12-8 pm. This is when people in the community come to us for help in filling out paperwork, access to resources, and health education. Wednesdays can get pretty crazy; usually there is a line of people waiting to be seen in our office. Luckily the community members are so amazing and they wait patiently. During our Community Advocacy hours, thanks to the Clallam Literacy Council who donated books and gave us training on how to read to small children, we were able to give a quick class and free books to families, so they can continue reading to their children on their own. It helped promote the importance of spending time with your child, reading and increasing vocabulary.