Check out what PCSC has been up to!
PCSC puts out a newsletter every month, and we are working to create a crew blog! We want to let our members and members' families know what we're up to and how we can all be involved. Click here to head straight to our newsletters, or scroll below to read our blog!
Featuring Bridget Bentley, PCSC President 2020-'21
It Takes a Village: An Article by Eva Swei
Experience with PCSC
I had heard of Piedmont Community Service Crew through friends all throughout my freshman year. I finally joined the crew at the end of freshman year, in May 2020. At first I was a little intimidated, but eventually I went to a few events and realized how fun it was to participate. It always feels great to give back to the community, especially alongside friends. Since I joined during quarantine, I started out doing cook from home events. I love cooking, so I was drawn towards the cooking events. Cooking events are always fun, even if you are not a talented cook! PCSC is a great way to meet new people, all while helping out the community.
At the start of the pandemic, my aunt started an organization called It Takes A Village for people to make PPE to donate to health care workers serving communities in the Bay Area (https://www.it-takes-a-village.org). Over the summer, I sewed masks, assembled N95s, and cut elastic and wires for masks. I thought other crew members would be interested in helping out front line workers by making masks and face shields. So, for the past few months I have been running the PPE kits program(https://fb.me/e/36JNZCSn4).
I love being able to bring my personal interests to PCSC so everyone can enjoy this experience. This was my first time leading a major event, and I learned a lot along the way. It was intimidating at first, but eventually rewarding. I take requests form crew members, receive the kits from It Takes A Village, and distribute the kits to volunteers. Leading this event also means publicizing it on Facebook, through the monthly newsletters, and directly to members. This is an example of one of the many ways you can show leadership in the crew. Now I know that being a part of PCSC is not just attending events, but helping to lead them also.
Tiny House Village: An Article by Claire Lichty
Aug 26, 2020
YSA Tiny House village
This fall, the first residents of the YSA Tiny House village will be moving in. While there, they will spend 2 years learning how to apply for jobs, cook for friends and family, and prepare themselves for permanent housing. This project was started and is being run by Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) , a youth group focused on using art to improve lives.
YSA helps young people living in the Bay Area by hosting art workshops, allowing students to sell their artwork, and offering stipends to people who are working for them. A couple years ago, one of their teenaged members learned about the concept of Tiny Houses as a way of combating homelessness and wanted to create a program specifically oriented towards helping young people. This village will be the first Tiny House Village in the country focused on young people.
This program not only helps people experiencing homelessness, but it is also an excellent experience for the volunteers who help YSA. While working on this project, teens will learn specific skills, like mudding drywall, installing doors and windows, and sawing woods, but, more importantly, they will internalize lifelong skills like leadership, working well with others, and troubleshooting. Nate Seevak, who was a build lead on Piedmont Community Service Crew’s Tiny House project last year said, “Working on Tiny House made me appreciate how much work had to go into my own house, and how lucky I am to not have to worry about having a roof over my head.”
What makes the YSA tiny house village different from most tiny houses or Tuff Shed villages is the presence of art. Volunteers and workers for YSA have spent most of their weekends this summer designing murals and painting the houses. In addition, the still-evolving village is already abundant with brightly painted garden boxes that will be used to grow fruit trees, potatoes, herbs, and other root vegetables for the residents to grow and eat. The tiny house that Piedmont Community Service Crew (PCSC) made last year has just been finished with a colorful mural designed by crew member Quelam Tran Perez.
Too often when thinking about people experiencing homelessness, we forget about the importance of non-necessities. The food people donate is mostly beans and rice, and there is a heavy emphasis on surviving instead of living. Through working on the Tiny House project and subsequent projects, PCSC has learned that the right to enjoy artwork, music, and delicious food is not limited to those born into better circumstances, and YSA understands this. They are working to help people, not only by offering them a place to live, but by creating a support system that educates, feeds, and listens to its residents.
PCSC hopes to build their 2nd tiny house this September, but we need funding help from our community to reach the $12,500 target to cover the material costs by the end of August. The crew members will do all the planning and volunteer work, but we also welcome community adults to volunteer to guide our youth members on the more technical subtleties of home construction.
This project changes the lives of everyone involved. Please make a donation to support this project!
PCSC Freshmen Experience: An Article by Elena Blanco and Shelby Cavenaugh
May 27, 2020
As freshmen, we were eager to join the Piedmont Community Service Crew after hearing so many incredible things about it from our peers. It’s an amazing way to help others while forming long lasting bonds with other crew members. PCSC has all types of events to fit everyone’s different skills and talents. Some of these include working at St. Mary’s food bank, helping out at the tree lot, building houses, and tutoring kids. These are only a few of the various and engaging events the PCSC runs, and there are even ways to volunteer during quarantine! Many students have been making masks and delivering food to try to help support people who are struggling during these hard times. Even if you have a busy schedule, there are lots of different events at various times to fit everyone’s schedules. More specifically, there are events on school nights and on the weekends. The times of these events vary from directly after school to later in the evening. The durations of the events are different, so they are easy to fit into your schedule.
We have only been a part of the crew for one year, yet we have already seen how much it has impacted our lives. We are each able to see how the crew has helped us mature in the past year. With the ability to run events, everyone gets a lot of leadership opportunities. We talked to Julia Banuelos who has decided to take on even more leadership this upcoming year as co-VP of fundraising. She spoke to us about her experience and how PCSC has impacted her. “ I am so glad I found PCSC! This past year, I have been able to be a part of some amazing and impactful projects. PCSC has challenged me in so many ways, whether it was pushing me to lead my first event or to even take on a major VP position! I can without a doubt say that PCSC has pushed me to become a more responsible and organized person, but most importantly it has shown me how to effectively and successfully become a leader!” Sofia Prieto Black, who is also this years co VP of Fundraising, joined in the fall of 2019 and she says, “I love being part of the crew because it has given me so many opportunities to gain leadership skills, allowed me to surround myself with many different types of people, make a difference in my community, and has enabled me to grow as an individual.” Their experiences highlight a few of the amazing aspects of the Crew. Through talking to other people and participating in numerous events, we believe everyone has just as enthusiastic views. Crew members can easily reach out to Ken Li, the group’s leader, with new ideas for events or if they are interested in doing more work. The events are posted on Facebook, and you can either respond going, maybe or can’t go- it’s as simple as clicking a button!
Even throughout our freshmen year, we have seen the passion and energy that the crew has towards helping others and building strong relationships. We are so excited to continue to work with the crew and encourage as many people as possible to join!
Saint Mary's Center: An Article by Ginger Gardner and Heather Stoneman
May 15, 2020
Saint Mary's Center
At the beginning of our freshmen year, we joined the Piedmont Community Service Crew. We discovered the crew through an email that we received last fall, and were both immediately interested in joining as we thought it would be fun, and would also benefit the community. After attending a few service events, we soon discovered that the crew is so much more than just another fun extracurricular.
Though the first few events that we attended were stressful,we quickly became comfortable after realizing how friendly the atmosphere was. Our first event was the Tiny House project, and soon after, we attended an event at Saint Mary’s Center at which we, along with 10 other people, cooked and served delicious lettuce wraps and apple galettes for low-income seniors. After attending this event, we were drawn into getting much more involved with the crew. Not only did we love being able to meet so many new people, but knowing that we were making a change, was extremely rewarding. In addition, we were given the opportunity to lead events which were challenging at times but, in the end, a chance for us to improve our skills and familiarize ourselves with leadership within the crew. This eventually led us to other leadership opportunities in the crew such as assisting crew vice presidents, and even running for vice president roles!
Being a part of this crew has led us to many amazing opportunities to serve the community that cater to our interests such as: cooking for the homeless, helping out at the foodbank, nature restoration, and even tiny house building for homeless teens. Additionally, the crew is very flexible -- none of the events are required and you can choose which ones you would like to attend. This was important to us because we were able to work the crew around our school, sports, and other extracurricular events. On top of that, the crew is incredibly positive and supportive of everyone, and members always encourage each other to succeed. Recently we have gotten to work with many of the VPs in the crew and it has been such a positive experience for us. Everyone is more than happy to give us more responsibility in the crew despite us being less experienced.
Overall, through being in the crew, we have developed skills for leadership including time management, communication, and teamwork. We have also met countless new people and have built relationships with many upperclassmen. Most importantly, we have been able to help the community which is what the crew is all about. We are so happy that we joined Piedmont Community Service Crew because it has been such an amazing experience that we couldn't get anywhere else.
Tiny House 2019: An Article by Zenobia Lloyd
May 20, 2020
Tiny House 2019
At the beginning of this school year, the Piedmont community service crew started a new project to fund and construct a Tiny House in collaboration with Youth Spirit Artworks who had a vision to create a housing community for 100 homeless teenagers in our area.
Showing up the first workday, I remember it was hot and it felt too early to be up on a weekend. We had to build from scratch, with basically nothing premade and the job seemed impossible. I remember spending hours on small tasks like leveling the trailer or marking where nails would have to go. But, for some reason, by the end of the six-hour work day, I felt extremely fulfilled. I kept coming after that, not only the next day, but the next three weeks. The experience of watching the house get put together, knowing it wouldn't have happened without each individual showing up and working hard, was amazing.
To me, the Tiny House project represents all of PCSC perfectly. It combines teamwork, education, charity, hard work, and leadership-- all the principles that PCSC stands for, and actively cultivates in the youth membership. After growing so passionate about that project, I became way more involved in the crew, in hopes to continue learning and growing through the program.
Also, because of the success of this year’s Tiny House Project, I am looking forward to doing it again in the fall as a leader.
Zenobia Pellissier Lloyd leveling the trailer last fall, a first step in ensuring that it provided a proper base for the Tiny House which was subsequently constructed on top.
PCSC During a Global Pandemic: An Article by Toshi Troyer
Mar 30, 2020
Cooking at home for the food insecure
With the pandemic and shelter in place now, one of the main activities that we still have planned is cooking to feed the hungry.
Our new model is to invite several crew members to cook a portion of the 50 dinners on the Fridays that PCSC takes on. The cooking can be a great way for crew families to work together to help others. The finished food gets delivered to CAPC in disposable containers and other volunteers allocate the food into to-go boxes. Monty, the CAPC pastor, has established a new safety protocol for the volunteers and recipients: he will provide food handling gloves and disinfect the serving tables, encourage separation of all involved, lots of hand washing, minimize touching.
We plan to do this about twice per month, but want to hear if you would like to do it more often! If the members and parents want to do more, we can increase the frequency to once per week. We are always looking for members and parents who will be the lead person on each of the events. Contact VPs Program Sofia Stahl or Jaden Ferraro, and Crew Advisor Ken if you’re interested and want to hear more, or if you have other event ideas. .
Please keep an eye on our upcoming dates on the crew calendar and sign up via the FB group where you’ll find a link to a google sheet that lists how you can help. Mark your calendar for at least these dates: Apr 4, 10, May 1, May 29th
PCSC has enjoyed a strong partnership with College Avenue Presbyterian Church through its 8-year collaboration on the 5th Friday Dinners with Piedmont Montclair Rotary Club. Recently, we’ve decided to devote more crew resources and host more frequent dinners at the newly renovated kitchen, courtesy of crew member Audrey Frankel who did the kitchen overhaul as the key element of her Gold Award project.