AmeriCorps: ‘I will get things done for America’

Posted October 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm

by Julie Ann Madden

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Removing the old barbed wire fence at The Nature Conservancy near Westfield is a group of Americorps volunteers who have committed a year of their life to helping others.

“Americorps is an incredible program,” said AmeriCorps Communications Coordinator Amanda Gaines of Merrick, N.Y. “You take a year of your life and live as a volunteer.”

“It’s a great experience, especially for those ages 18 – 25 who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives,” she said, explaining she’d finished her bachelor of arts degree in broadcast journalism and had worked two years at a Washington D.C. radio station but she wanted something more community service oriented.

Jerome Frey of Woodbury, Conn., just graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics.

“I do want to teach but not right off the bat,” he told The Akron Hometowner. “I want to get into environmental sciences at graduate school.”

“AmeriCorps has inspired me to continue volunteering and travel some more while looking into graduate schools,” said Frey, explaining AmeriCorps volunteers receive a financial stipend but their experiences go beyond any job experience.

Their team of 10 has been working in Plymouth County since Sept. 10 and will finish this portion of their year of community service Nov. 2.

While here, they are working at The Nature Conservancy near Westfield and for the Plymouth County Conservation Service.

On Oct. 2, they were tearing down an old barbed wire fence along Iowa Highway 12 at The Nature Conservancy headquarters, south of Westfield.

Prior to this, the volunteers had built a warming hut/storage building at Plymouth County’s Hillview snow-tubing hill. The project took a week.

They had also spent a day cutting brush so The Nature Conservancy could extend its bison pasture fencing.

In addition, the group has been camp counselors at a camp for children suffering with AIDS; created, set up and operated a volunteer reception center for tornado victims in southern Indiana; and built a compost bin for a Sioux Falls, S.D., community school’s educational community garden.

“AmeriCorps provides a really amazing diversity of projects, opportunities to meet new people and get new experiences,” said Gaines. “We get to try so many different things while traveling around the country.”

The team works 8 hours a day, depending on the type of work and distance to the job site, said Frey, then they return to their housing location, and unwind. Each member has a role to fulfill for the team such as media contact; support ranger providing emotional support to help volunteers handle the things they encounter; vehicle safety & tools training; service learning initiator who helps members understand the social and environmental issues and reflect on the projects; core ambassadors who spread the word about AmeriCorps; and Project Outreach liaison who works with organizations to line up projects for the team.

This team consists of Gaines, Frey, Sirena Sibounhevang, Jackson, Ga.; Allison Jones, Marietta, Ga.; Oswaldo Guzman, Sacramento, Calif.; Cassandra Much, Winnemucca, Nev.; Cataline Morales, Syracuse, N.Y.; Zach Knowlton, Syracuse, N.Y.; Joe Roh, Kansas City, Kan.; and Arlillian Davis, Oakland, Calif.

This team is part of the AmeriCorps’ Vinton, Iowa region which serves 10 states and is part of the National Civilian Community Corps.

The AmeriCorps Pledge

I will get things done for America

to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together

to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,

I will take action.

Faced with conflict,

I will seek common ground.

Faced 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.

For more information, visit the website: www.americorps.gov/nccc.

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