Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Valerie Zehl Neighbors: AmeriCorps provides a way to give back to community

November 1, 2010, 5:45 pm

Jason Fleischer and Marsha Bailey are Binghamton University graduates now serving at the Council of Churches through AmeriCorps. "I'm developing skills myself while helping to feed people," Jason says. "It's a win-win-win situation all the way around." (VALERIE ZEHL/Staff Photo)

After Susan Beaudoin, of Apalachin, graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland, she faithfully shipped her resume to potential employers but -- nada.

Then a position back home caught her eye.

Now she's in her second half-time term of paid service with AmeriCorps because she loved the first one so much.

"I'm currently working to promote local foods," Susan, 23, said. "And I'd like to continue in that line of work."

About 75,000 opportunities are available annually for adults of all ages and backgrounds through the organization's three primary programs: AmeriCorps State and National (working with more than 2,900 nonprofit and community groups), AmeriCorps Vista (to fight poverty) and AmeriCorps NCCC (a residential program for young adults with projects in public safety, disaster preparedness and relief, environment and youth development), explains Andrea Todd from the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D. C.

Locally, Habitat for Humanity uses the talents of two AmeriCorps VISTA members, says Mary Vivona, who works out of the Endicott office. She won't have openings again until next summer, but suggests any interested adults check out opportunities at the AmeriCorps website, www.americorps.gov.

Some positions offer an opportunity for relocation, depending upon where they are, she points out.

Jason Fleischer, 22, came from Middletown to attend Binghamton University and he's staying here to serve in AmeriCorps State at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

"I like Binghamton and wanted to give back," says Jason, who lives on the West Side.

Those who have student loans or who are anticipating more schooling appreciate the possibility of a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,350.

Whitney Point-based Rural Health Network of South Central New York works with Susan, Jason and a hefty volume of other members.

"This contract year, September 2010 through December 2011, we have 12 full-time (1,710-hour) positions, 10 half-time (907-hour) positions, and 11 part-time (303- or 455-hour) positions," says Julie Pitts, RHN's administrative services coordinator. "Current full-time members receive a living allowance stipend of $11,800 during service, college loan forbearance on most federal loans in good standing and health insurance."

Maybe the best news is that RHN is almost always recruiting for positions at 20 sites in Broome, Tioga and outlying counties. They include the Southern Tier AIDS Program in Johnson City, and the Hope Dispensary of the Southern Tier and Dr. Garabed A. Fattal Community Free Clinic in Binghamton.

Marsha Bailey, of Binghamton, serves in programs at the Broome County Council of Churches, working with seniors and the housebound to help them make good food choices.

"It gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day," says Marsha, 28. "I learn from them, and they learn from me."

CHOW director Ed Blaine appreciates having Jason there, particularly when AmeriCorps picks up half the tab for the full-time worker's wages.

"It allows us to focus someone who can run with it on a certain project," he says. Jason subs for him at meetings as needed, as well as rounds up and guides volunteers in the warehouse and the community garden in Conklin and other tasks.

"I'm developing skills myself while helping to feed people," Jason says, "So it's a win-win-win situation all around."

View Article Here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Archive