Red Lake Nation Celebrates AmericCorps Sixteen Years
Honors Long Time Employee Myrna J. Hardy
Members and family of those involved with AmeriCorps from 1995 to 2011 came together to celebrate the organizations sixteen years of service at the Seven Clans Event Center on October 13, 2011. The festivities began at 6 PM.
Sponsored by the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council and AmeriCorps, the festivities began with a welcome by Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr. The evening would include the honoring of former AmeriCorps directors, (with a special recognition of Myrna Hardy) and a feast of Red Lake walleye and chicken.
“Welcome AmeriCorps members and service site representatives, families, and friends,” began Jourdain in his welcome. “Tonight we are celebrating sixteen years of AmeriCorps service to Red Lake Nation.”
Last month AmericCorps at Red Lake closed it’s doors for the time being. But Jourdain said that the tribe intended to re-establish AmeriCorps at a later date and would keep the community posted on the status of AmericCorps.
Jourdain said he was honored to be speaking on behalf of Thelma May who was unable to attend due to the loss of a loved one. “She sends her best, and I know she would have loved to be here. She has been looking forward to this gathering because AmeriCorps holds a special place in her heart. She and her family are in our thoughts and prayers this evening.” (May is a former Director of AmeriCorps)
“And so we celebrate 16 years of service to Red Lake Nation and we honor all past leadership at AmericCorps over the years beginning with Thelma May, but also former directors Myrna Hardy, Laurie May, Roxanne May, and Ben Bonga,” said Jourdain.
Jourdain then ran off a litany of service sites where AmeriCorps members provided service. They included: Red Lake School District, St. Mary's school, Red Lake and Ponemah Elderly nutrition Programs, Red Lake and Ponemah Head Start Programs, Early Childhood Family Education Programs, Jourdain Perpich Extended Care facility, all four community centers, Boy’s and Girls Club, and Tribal Archives.
Members provided in and after school tutoring, and mentoring youth. Services for elders including; home weatherizing, snow removal, hauling garbage, and providing transportation for elders to community events.
Members also assisted with powwow arena renovation, community drills, Toys for Tots, New Year’s and Veterans Day Events, powwows, parades, assisted at wakes and funerals, hunting camps, cleaning the Red Lake Creek, the light up the Rez contest, elder sewing classes, the Memorial Wall during school shooting, and numerous other community projects.
“Members earned their High School Diplomas, AA degrees, graduated from technical and state colleges,” Jourdain went on. “Member became certified First Responders, Teacher Assistants, EMT’s, and entered the United States Armed Services.
“Red Lake Nation says Chi-miigwech to all the AmericCorps members for providing 16 years of service to the youth, elders, and community of Red lake.”
Special Recognition of Myrna Hardy for Sixteen Years of Service
“Tonight we say miigwech to Myrna J. hardy, who has been with AmericCorps since day one,” said Jourdain. “Myrna was hired as Assistant Director at the start of the AmeriCorps Program and was later promoted to Director. After completing her duties as director, Myrna continued her service to AmeriCorps as a member. Myrna we would like to honor you with this gift as a symbol of our appreciation.” A beautiful blanket was then presented.
Hardy was the Assistant Director from 1995 to 2005, and then became the longest serving Director. The celebration and feast recognized all former directors and all were given an opportunity to speak and reflect on the glorious years of AmeriCorps.
“It was a total surprise to me, I wasn’t expecting anything,” said Hardy in an interview. “I was almost crying and then they wanted me to speak. I said my name is Myrna Hardy. I was shaking and surprised. I was choked up, I didn’t expect anything, but I got a beautiful blanket.”
“I retired in 2008, but AmeriCorps kept calling to help with traditional stuff. I volunteered a lot and then found myself working again part time. The kids always come to me about this and that, and I always helped with grants, I knew it well. I was there from day one until the last day. I cried the last day to see this program go,” said Hardy.
Hardy said that when she was the director she often arrived at 7 AM and sometimes stayed until 7 or 8 at night because there was so much to do with the program.
“I like helping people, I like young people, and I want to see things go smooth for them. There was so much talent among the young people who came through AmeriCorps, artists, and singers, and computer whizzes,” said Hardy. “These kids would help elders, lots of things they did. I feel really bad that this program had to end. Some of the kids would come in really bashful, and at the end of two years they’d be so happy they’d cry. One of my greatest gratifications was helping the kids get their GED because education is so important.”
“I let people know that I’m always available.” says Hardy. She now volunteers at Ponemah school and at the ENP (Elderly Nutrition Program) in Ponemah. She arranged for a computer from AmeriCorps to go to ENP which was direly needed. She said she had a lot of fun last year working with others from AmeriCorps doing a garden in front of the mission. “We did canning and even did venison, and we gave it all to elders. It was a lot of fun.”
Although Hardy was recognized at the feast celebrating 16 years of AmeriCorps, she wanted to give special recognition to Thelma May. “Thelma was a big part of organizing this celebration and feast and because of the loss in her family, many things didn’t happen,” said Hardy. Thelma was working on a slide show of highlights of AmeriCorps sixteen years, and was working on a bunch of giveaways. She was a major part of that evening, she couldn’t attend but she and her family were in all of our hearts.”
Queried on the quality of the feast that evening, Hardy replied, “we had walleye and chicken dinner, with baked potato, wild rice, vegies, lots of good food. And dessert? We had cake and everything. My ‘sugar’ went way up at this thing, boy that cake was good.”
In 1993 President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act which established the corporation for national and community service and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one organization.
This legislation built on the first national service act signed by President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990. It also formally launched AmeriCorps, a network of national service program that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, pubic safety, health, and the environment.
The newly created AmeriCorps incorporated two existing national programs: the longstanding VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
In September of 1994, the first class of AmeriCorps members numbering 20,000 strong began serving in more than 1000 communities across America. Red Lake was one of those communities.
AmeriCorps, and its programs continue to be one of Americas success stories in terms of encouraging, and supporting civic engagement.
The Red Lake AmeriCorps Pledge.
I will get things done for the Red Lake Nation to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Red lake Nation members together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action
Faces with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faces with adversity. I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year, and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.