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Spooky, Scary Service

October 31, 2014

Today’s guest post comes from Shannon Mykins and the AmeriCorps Alums Connecticut Chapter. Last Saturday, the chapter celebrated Make a Difference Day and served in Boo Bash Bridgeport with Public Allies, members from AmeriCorps VISTA and Community Health Corps, and AmeriCorps NCCC members of Raven 1. 

It’s the question that’s been on all our minds. Who will win Halloween of 2014—Princess Elsa or the Ninja Turtles?

AmeriCorps Alums, members, and Raven 1 celebrate a great day of service with Boo Bash organizers Gabby F. and Natalie Pryce (kneeling)

AmeriCorps Alums, members, and Raven 1 with Boo Bash organizers Gabby F. and Natalie Pryce (kneeling)

We got a sneak peek when, on a beautiful fall day in New England, eighteen AmeriCorps alums and members sprayed ourselves down with glitter and strapped on cat ears to be a part of the 5th annual Boo Bash Bridgeport in honor of Make a Difference Day.

Started by friends and local business owners Gabby F. and Natalie Pryce, Boo Bash is an opportunity for youth from across Bridgeport, CT, to celebrate the Halloween season with games, face painting, and plenty of candy. Every year the event has grown, spreading to include partners and local businesses from across the city.

This year over 500 community members joined in the fun, spending the afternoon exploring the city by trick or treating at local establishments, decorating pumpkins on McLevy Green, visiting the BookMobile, and having spooky scary fun with us in the Arcade Mall.

VISTA member Perdita Das prepares the sand art table in the Arcade Mall ahead of the rush.

VISTA member Perdita Das prepares the sand art table in the Arcade Mall ahead of the rush.

After a few hours of prep and a couple of macaroni and cheese burgers from Moe’s Burger Joint, we were ready to serve. Or so we thought! Turns out that decades of combined service is no match for a herd of adorable children with their eyes on sand art. Still, we persevered against the tiny pirates and baby elephants—and had a lot of fun doing it. From coloring to slime and grime, the children and their families had almost as good of a time as we did.

We started serving with Boo Bash in 2013, serving alongside Bridgeport Public Allies. This year in addition to members from AmeriCorps VISTA and Community Health Corps joining us, we had new partners in the form of AmeriCorps NCCC members of Raven 1. It was such an honor to have the team take the time to join us at the end of their Bridgeport spike where they have been serving with Habitat for Humanity. (In fact, the team had to take a break to dedicate their final house midway through the day but still returned to help finish off the event in trademark AmeriCorps grey style!)

We also had a couple of special guests in the form of the Bridgeport Bluefish and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. Mayor Finch has been a tireless supporter and advocate for national service in his city. We were grateful to spend some time with a service-oriented leader such as Mayor Finch—and for the subsequent Twitter shout-out!

(L-R) Shannon Mykins (Leadership Board, VISTA alum), Colleen Mattatall (Leadership Board, VISTA alum), Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Tina Lindstrom (Chapter Leader, NCCC alum), and Kenji Johsnon (MYO AmeriCorps Alum)

(L-R) Shannon Mykins (Leadership Board, VISTA alum), Colleen Mattatall (Leadership Board, VISTA alum), Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Tina Lindstrom (Chapter Leader, NCCC alum), and Kenji Johsnon (MYO AmeriCorps Alum)

By the end of the day we were tired but enlivened by our new connections with both each other and the community. While we may not be aiming to hit a certain number of hours, events such as these are an important part of fulfilling the promise we all made to serve “this year and beyond.”

PS—wondering who won the battle for Halloween? In Bridgeport, at least, it looks like the children’s hearts still belong to the turtles with ‘tude.

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