Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AmeriCorps - Round 3

So the Hands On Gulf Coast AmeriCorps program is in full swing. This week marks our third orientation period, with roughly 20 new members!!!!

Last night was the first team meeting for current and new members to meet one another. Talk about an amazing site. There were roughly 50 people in the room, all AmeriCorps members, working in some way shape or form to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

I have to give a huge shout out to Sara, Caitlin, and Sheli who run the program. They've managed to assemble an amazing array of people to work in areas as diverse as building, youth engagements, arts, trail building, community outreach, and volunteer management. AmeriCorps members comes from the community and come from all over the country. We have partners in Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis.

What amazes me most is the potential of the folks in the room. One member recently came to Caitlin and told her that she wants to start a non-profit focusing on the services that women need when they are victims of domestic violence. This is a direct result of the work that AmeriCorps has enabled her to do.

Other folks have learned to build houses and are off doing that now. Still others have moved from AmeriCorps positions with Hands On to permanent employment in and around Biloxi. Dan went to the Boys and Girls Club. Karissa went to manage a grant looking at women in construction. Anne has a job at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum.

This year has been great. Next year will be better. As a staff we've learned a lot about AmeriCorps and we're formulating our plan for engaging the community and community partners. I'm excited about the possibilities that the AmeriCorps program provides the members and the work it enables in the community.

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