MLK – Taking a “day on” for service

Homeport's Community Life considers MLK holiday a "day on" in service at citywide celebration

Starting with a breakfast celebration planned by residents of Elim Manor, service continued with a citywide AmeriCorps Justice Talking Dialogue at American Red Cross. Homeport AmeriCorps then headed to City Hall, where they set up a Peace Dove booth and participated in the annual Martin Luther King march. Many of our Social Work Interns fulfilled their human rights hours in the community throughout the day.

“Many sincere thanks to all of you for coming out in the spine-chilling cold weather to make a difference. I appreciate everyone stepping up and volunteering for the King March.  Your help was deeply valued.  It is going to take young people like you to carry on Dr. King’s legacy.  I am very impressed with what I saw in all of you.  Continue on with your good work.  If I can assist you in any way please feel free to call or e-mail me. Great job. And again, thanks. Keep up the good work,” Gale Gray, Community Relations Coordinator, City of Columbus

More details and photos in next week's "Off to a Good Start."

New class of AmeriCorps begins service

Our latest group of AmeriCorps members started their year of service on October 1. They kicked off their year by participating in a 2 week immersion with the rest of Community Life, and then got right to work in their respective areas and after-school programs on October 15.

We are excited to announce that two members from last year chose to come back for a second year – a special shout out to Alisha Bicknell and Gloria Davis!

Stay tuned throughout the year to stay up-to-date on the life-changing work our members are doing in the community.

2012 Back to School Rallies

Each year, Homeport provides children age 5 to 18 in our Homeport Rental Living communities with backpacks and essential school supplies to ensure they start the school year with all they need to be successful.

Annual back-to-school rallies are held at our Homeport Rental Living communities, and are coordinated by Homeport Community Life Programs to get kids excited to learn.

Click here to see a list of the needed supplies and volunteer dates.

Bring donations to our main office at 562 E Main St, or drop them off at the Food Truck and Cart Hop on Sunday July 29!

If interested in volunteering, please contact Rachel Arnold by email or phone at 614-221-8889.

Back to School supplies needed for fall 2012

Each year, Homeport provides children age 5 to 18 in our Homeport Rental Living communities with backpacks and essential school supplies to ensure they start the school year with all they need to be successful. 

Homeport Community Life Programs will be hosting its annual Back to School Rallies at seven Rental Living communities during the month of August. The top items in most need are notebooks, pens, folders with pockets, scissors and graph paper to fill the backpacks.

If you are able to donate any or all of these supplies please feel free to drop them off at our Main St. office, care of Community Life Programs, located at 562 E. Main Columbus, OH 43215.

Please contact Nicole Papa Odegaard to make arrangements at 614-545-4824 or email her at


Homeport Community Life's Summer of Wonder 2012 Summer FunCamp begins

The first week of camp went great with campers having fun with their friends and trying new activities. The campers start their day with physical and mental warm-ups to stretch and ready their muscles and minds before the lesson of the day. Then it’s time for lots of fun learning activities! The first week’s lessons focused on learning about weather patterns, surviving nature, and what to do in case of a weather emergency. The campers learned about the different types of clouds that exist and which ones cause storms. They discovered how tornadoes happen and made 2-liter bottles into models they could swirl around and see a twister form in. Boats and dams were made and tested to see how well they could do in a water emergency. Sundials were created and tested to see if anyone could survive if lost without a clock. After the lesson, the children played outside games and participated in fun physical activities throughout the day. Some games continued the theme from the lesson, like weather trivia relay races, while others were pure sport, like an intense game of kickball! Other parts of the campers' day include breakfast and lunch provided by Columbus Parks and Recreation and the opportunity to share their experiences in writing with pen-pals paired between Homeport sites! - Alisha Bicknell, AmeriCorps Member

For 2012, new Summer of Wonder and Zula themes are being offered at some of our communities. The following communities are hosting children for lunch, a snack and fun programming through August:

  • Pheasant Run
  • Marsh Run
  • Framingham
  • Emerald Glen
  • George’s Creek

Our Bending Brook community has partnered with the Hoover Y camp and Homeport Single Family Homes are offering camp options. Also, our Scattered Site housing communities have been linked with multiple options through Central Community House, Greater Linden Community Development Association, Godman Guild, and more.

AmeriCorps members lend helping hand on service trip to Cleveland

Homeport AmeriCorps members embarked on a three-day immersion service trip to Cleveland, Ohio from May 17-19, 2012.  Members and Community Life staff served with an organization called University Settlement, whose mission is to “foster strong and independent individuals and families by providing innovative, valued, and collaborative services that meet the evolving needs of the Broadway/Slavic Village Community.” 

University Settlement Executive Director Derrick Fulton and Director of Development Jason Weiner provided engaging opportunities for our members.  Members participated in socialization activities at the senior center, which included Dominos, good conversation, and jewelry making. Additionally, members relived their childhood days by participating in a competitive game of kickball with the youth in the after-school program. Our members also had the opportunity to go into several of the nearby schools and help in the classrooms.  On the last day, members volunteered at a Mobile Market in the Lakewood community - providing fresh produce to those in need.



Bending Brook Health & Resource Fair was a great success

Homeport provided Urbancrest residents a one-stop opportunity to access various resources and services - including a teen soccer match, live music, interpreter service, raffle, and a FREE Fresh Produce Market during the Bending Brook Health & Resource Fair held on April 10, 2012.

Special thanks to the support of our community partners:

  • Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
  • Chase
  • Mid-Ohio Food Bank
  • Red Cross of Greater Columbus
  • Ohio Consumer Council
  • T.O.U.C.H
  • Jackson TWP Fire Department
  • Mayor Barnes
  • DJ Tim
  • Nimo Amed
  • Nationwide Children's Hospital
  • Columbus State Community College
  • Job Corps

Numerous children from the Bending Brook community won YMCA gear including T-shirts, frisbees, and water bottles; resident Ron Evans even won a full-year YMCA membership. Younger children were engaged in various ways, with AmeriCorps member Sarah Gange teaching how to make friendship bracelets and Jackson Township Fire Department demonstrating fire prevention. The Red Cross promoted healthy food choices, and the Ohio Consumer Council and Caresource provided information on how to access their services. DJ Tim kept everyone dancing, while YMCA Manager Pam live-tweeted the event. Highlights of the night were captured through Columbus Messenger's interviews and Miriam's photography. 

Additionally, the Homeport Community Life Department and a host of volunteers gave away 10,000 pounds of fresh produce provided by Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  This amazing team - comprised of Homeport staff and volunteers, AmeriCorps members, YMCA staff, Chase, community volunteers, and Mayor Barnes - came together to reach 142 families, 50 seniors, 170 children, and 249 adults residing in the Urbancrest community.

A big thank you goes out to all of the volunteers, community partners, and Homeport staff for taking time out of their schedules to help the Community Life team and its AmeriCorps members to host a successful event for the residents of our Bending Brook community.

Emerald Glen Girls Circle Celebrate with Awards and Poetry Slam

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, the Emerald Glen Apartment Girls Circle participated in a poetry slam with a microphone in front of an audience including Janae Littlejohn, the National Plus Teen USA Ambassador. All the girls shared a piece that they wrote or something that struck a chord inside of them. The mic brought something out of them, a certain energy and strength. They all clapped after a reading. They also got to ask questions to Janae and hear her spoken word poetry too.

After the poetry slam, AmeriCorps members, Aisha Upton & Frankie Lee, gave out 9 awards for perfect attendance for Winter season and 3 special awards granted to girls that struck a chord with the Girls Circle Philosophy: Helping Hands, Respectful Leader and GC Warrior.  Everyone shared bubble gum and took fun snap shots with Janae before ending this fun evening.

Great job EG Girls!

Frankie Lee, Emerald Glen AmeriCorps Member

Looking to make a difference? Join Homeport Community Life’s Summer FunCamp 2012 Team!

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of low-income families in the Columbus, Ohio region? Do you want to be part of a dynamic and rewarding Summer Camp Program?

Homeport Community Life Program's Summer Associate VISTA Program provides direct support to Summer Camp and youth programming. Our members will provide direct services to low to moderate income families within Homeport’s rental communities. Members placed at Homeport communities are responsible for the facilitation of Summer Camp for children ages 5-13 and other youth programming ages 14-18. Additionally, VISTA members will assist in the planning and implementation of end of summer Back-2-School Rallies.

We are seeking members who have a desire to help others, experience working with children, the ability to work well with a diverse population, and the ability to multi-task.  We need members who are highly organized, with excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to problem solve.  This role will help provide our residents with stability in their communities and your skills can make a positive impact on our resident’s lives. 

We prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and/or working toward a degree, are at least 18 years of age and have reliable transportation.  Additionally, candidates who are bilingual in Spanish or Somali are preferred. We need candidates who are ready to start a summer of service by June 11, 2012.  Summer Associates are available to the community on a full-time basis.

Benefits of serving with Homeport include:

  • Education award of $1,174 upon successful completion of service or $125/month
  • Living Stipend to cover necessities during service (approximately $400 bi-weekly)
  • Networking with Community Life and other Homeport Staff and Partners
  • Training Opportunities
  • Mileage Reimbursement for work related travel 

If you want to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve your community and receive top notch training, please email your cover letter and resume to or apply online at the Homeport Service Listing at

Celebrating National AmeriCorps Week 2012

National AmeriCorps Week celebrated the impact members make in communities every day. This year’s AmeriCorps Week was March 12-16, 2012 and was themed “AmeriCorps Works.”  Homeport AmeriCorps Members kicked off the week on March 8, 2012 with a service project in the Greater Linden neighborhood. During the actual week, members participated in Homeport’s COSI Diversity Training, a local nonprofit organization panel, AmeriCorps Alumni Panel, a special breakfast at Homeport Gallery, a teambuilding trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio, and ended with a celebration at Lucy Depp Park (which is part of the National Underground Railroad).

Read about how our members celebrated the week in more detail below!

March 8, 2012: Homeport AmeriCorps members teamed up with the Greater Linden Development Corporation and the Linden-McKinley STEM Academy’s Legends Against Litter organization to complete a clean-up in the Greater Linden community.  Homeport members first engaged in a discussion with Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson at Greater Linden Development Corporation.  She discussed her appreciation for the work our members are doing in the community and shared some of her experiences as Founder/Director of City Year Columbus. Despite the rain, members, youth, and City Year Columbus members were able to collect approximately 56 bags of trash in just 45 minutes.

Monday, March 12: Member participated in the Homeport COSI Diversity Training.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012: The theme for the cultural competency training was “Going Local.” Coffee for the morning was graciously donated by IMPERO Coffee Roasters of the Short North. The morning began with an Alumni Panel of former AmeriCorps members – Rachel Diskin, Emily Hanlon, and Erin Moore – who discussed their own experiences, life after AmeriCorps, and how service helped their career. Next, representatives from the SBB, Local Matters, and The Dick and Jane Project presented on their organizations.  Members and Homeport staff wrapped up the morning session by enjoying a special lunch from Tatoheads food truck.

Thursday, March 15, 2012: Members met at the Homeport Gallery for a breakfast donated by Cafe Brioso. Amy Klaben, joined by Craig Murphy and Maude Hill, started the morning off with a few words for the members in recognition of their service. During an open mic session, member Frankie Lee played and sang an original song, while Gloria Davis sang Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All”. Following breakfast, members headed to Yellow Springs, Ohio to experience a city that exemplifies the “Going Local” movement. Members were able to hike at Glen Helen, sample ice cream at Young’s Dairy, and enjoy a leisurely stroll around town.

Friday, March 16, 2012: The week ended with a celebration at Lucy Depp Park, a site from the Underground Railroad. Director of Community Life Gwyn Stetler prepared a delicious breakfast that members enjoyed while reflecting on their year of service and the week. Members were also given awards and played games. The afternoon ended with a potluck and a trip to Fort Rapids Waterpark.


2011 Winter Wishes Wrap-up

Our annual Winter Wishes Program was a resounding success this year. Organized by our AmeriCorps Members, the holidays were made brighter for 321 children in our communities. Parents or guardians provided 642 volunteer hours at our sites or partner sites, allowing their family to participate in the program.

Besides gift donations, over $3500 was raised from family, friends, and Homeport partners – with staff member Brenda Moncrief and AmeriCorps Shannon Wealther recruiting the most outside help.

We would like to thank everyone who helped us share the joy of giving this holiday season, especially our partners Alliance Data, The Wallick Companies, CPO Management, and Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing. And a very special thank you to: AmeriCorps Members Phyllicia White, Pamela Palmer, and Aisha Upton; Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Arnold; and volunteer Sam Page, for their work on this program. They spent many hours making this year’s program a success.

Homeport Community Life Programs engage the residents at Pheasant Run

Resident involvement and community-building are important at Pheasant Run Apartments. Resident Council President Robert Fontaine and Property Manager (Wallick) Belynda Melton recently participated in the 8-person NeighborWorks Community Leadership Institute conference in Kansas City. He is pictured here at the latest resident council, along with several of the 17 residents who attended and AmeriCorps member Shannon Wealther. Shannon and her AmeriCorps peer Sara Brinkman also work with Pheasant Run's Teen Council that meets monthly. Stanya Greathouse, Annie Crane and Gwyn Stetler, from the Homeport Community Life Programs team, provide additional support through technical assistance and a weekly site meeting. Other recent events included a Harvest Festival and a People Around the World Unite Meal.