2019 Volunteer Spotlight
Meredith volunteers at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE). She serves as Volunteer Coordinator, helping students maximize their talents and passions to serve the community. Meredith discovered her passion for community engagement, which led to her work with the YMCA. Meredith continues YMCA's mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
At SIUE, Meredith encourages students to give back to their community and to be their community's voice. She has encouraged over 20 students to join AmeriCorps just four short months. Her passion to serve is infectious. SIUE students state that Meredith's love of service makes it easy for others to commit to serve.
at a stage 4 level and after a bone marrow transplant, Juan beat it again.
HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital has been Juan's home hospital while receiving treatment. Juan wanted to give back to the hospital and community that made him feel so at-home. Last year, Juan and his mother decided to start a toy drive and fundraiser to bless sick children and their families who must spend Christmas in the hospital. Juan personally delivers each of these gifts on Christmas Eve.
Juan asks that others may give what has so kindly been given to him over these last few years. For details on how you can help Juan with his toy drive, please visit the Juan's Christmas Smiles Toy Drive Facebook page.
efforts for children of Sangamon County.
On Wednesday, November 13th, the DoIT hosted their 10th Annual Chili Cook-Off Luncheon. Bell building employees participated in some friendly competition as to who could make the best pot of chili. The chili was purchased and judged by fellow employees around the building. All proceeds from the event were used to purchase goods donated to Toys for Tots. The Bell Building also had a Toys for Tots donation box for employees who wished to donate toys to the cause.
The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas and to unite all members of local communities in a common cause during the annual toy campaign. The donations received for the Chili Cook-off combined with yearlong fundraising efforts equaled a considerable amount. The Bell building staff members were able to purchase approximately 40 toys donated to Toys for Tots, plus an additional 29 that were donated.
offered by the Greater Chicago Food Depository for unemployed and underemployed adults in Cook County. The program prepares students for a productive career in the culinary and hospitality fields. While training for their future, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of culinary techniques. They prepare lunch every day and participate in catering opportunities.
Nadia has established excellent rapport with community members of CCK. She is enthusiastic, warm, welcoming and encouraging. Nadia reaches the community all over Cook County at food pantries, resource fairs, returning citizen support networks and more. Her presence is versatile and has reached a diverse client base to spread the word about all the Food Depository's community resources. The Food Depository is excited to see how Nadia continues to grow past her service year with AmeriCorps!
Ben's service started through a summer program coordinated by a post-secondary certificate program for young adults with disabilities. Ben lives independently with both physical and developmental disabilities. He has a speech impairment that requires the use of verbal and nonverbal gestures with assistance from a speaking software program.
Having Ben as a volunteer has motivated MSV to seek an ongoing partnership with PACE at National Louis University to ensure continued service opportunities for disabled young adults. Ben assists with training and onboarding of new PACE volunteers each year.
Ben's speech impairment has not affected his ability to communicate and lead. He makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated while receiving food. Ben has inspired others to speak not only with words, but with positive gestures, humor, and kindness.
Julia enlists the help of almost 2,000 community volunteers for the project. Families, community groups, businesses, and teams have made volunteering at the Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket project a yearly tradition. Volunteers prepare each box for distribution by filling, taping, or stacking. Julia also partners with over 55 community agencies to help make the project possible. Each agency is responsible for getting food in the hands of families who need help. All food items are paid for with monetary donations from members of the community.
The Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket Project is not the only thing on Julia's plate. She is the Executive Director of Macon County CASA where she provides volunteers to advocate for abused, neglected or dependent children in the Macon County juvenile court system.
Alex volunteers at the Mary Brown Center, an after-school site in East St. Louis. Alex mentors several students at the Mary Brown Center. He is responsible for implementing effective learning strategies and serving as a positive role model to all students. Alex ensures that every student completes their homework and departs the center correctly. He stresses the importance of team work and community by encouraging students to work together.
Students at the Mary Brown Center describe Alex as fun, funny, and "like a big brother." Staff have complimented Alex on his eagerness to interact with the students. Alex has volunteered at a variety of different sites and events, but his time at the Mary Brown Center stands out as his favorite.
The MOVSM recognizes members of the military who perform substantial volunteer service to the local community above and beyond their required duties. Matteson volunteered at the Abraham Lincoln Council, Boy Scouts of America, Cub Scout Pack 38 in Springfield, Illinois, from January 2015 through November 2018. She led weekly meetings, organized community service events, and monthly fundraising efforts. She assisted multiple Cub Scouts transition through the ranks from Webelos to the Arrow of Light.
Her Scouts collected and donated hundreds of pounds of nonperishable food products to the Inner City Mission, volunteered numerous hours visiting residents of Concordia Village and the Mary Bryant Home For the Blind and Visually Impaired. Matteson was part of the launch of Cub Scout Pack 38's program for girls which led to the Boy Scouts of America chartering Troop 38, Springfield's first all-girls troop in February 2019.
Matteson has served in the Illinois Army National Guard since April 1994, and assigned to the 108th Sustainment Brigade in June 2018.
Diana Murphy became a crisis line volunteer with NRS in September of 2016. Since then, she has completed the 40-hour crisis intervention training program and dedicated more than 260 hours to handling crisis contacts nationwide. Diana has personally handled over 423 individual contacts. Each contact was a person who needed direct, full attention for a crisis affecting their life.
Diana selflessly gives her time responding to youth and families in crisis. The desire to give back is evident on the line as Diana exhibits a calm, warm tone with non-directive language. Utilizing strong active listening skills may seem an obvious way to provide services, but it takes a caring individual willing to implement them for an effective delivery of service. Diana successfully helps callers gain back some sense of control to do what is best for their lives.
November is National Runaway Prevention Month. Learn more at 1800runaway.org.
and reach out to serve their communities. Project YES! started in 2000 and is currently in its eighteenth year of service.
Haleigh led the Project YES! MLK Day project this year as logistics committee head. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the project every year is a Youth Literacy Fair. The theme this year was "Go Anywhere with a Book!" The Youth Literacy Fair allows volunteers to help children learn the importance of literacy through fun and interactive activities. As Logistics leader, Haleigh delegated tasks to fellow members, organized activities, and engaged children in fun and creative ways.
Her peers nominated Haleigh for the Project YES! Member 2 Remember Award. Others describe Haleigh as a born leader, positive, hard-working, and dedicated to all that she does. She is a team player and is inclusive of other members' ideas.
Sometimes the students require a little help with reading and writing when they first start school. Teachers may not have that extra time to spend with a student due to their busy schedules. That is where Midge lends a hand. Her favorite hobby is teaching first graders to read. Other times, she takes more of a supportive role by listening to the students.
Providing a "softer side to school" is what the Foster Grandparent program is all about, said Senior Corps Foster Grandparent Director, Susie Welch.
Midge has been described as "a remarkable woman" who builds special relationships with those she mentors. She is the "go-to" Foster Grandparent at Dillon Elementary for her ability to answer other volunteers' questions.
Until about a year ago, Midge also spent every other Sunday volunteering in CGH Medical Center's gift shop. Due to an injury she is unsure if she will be back to finish out the year at Dillon Elementary. Whether she returns or not, she will always have the extended family that she has built over 20 years – all of whom still call her Grandma.
services, individual and family support services, services to older adults, and housing economic development services which will help move individuals and families out of poverty.
Jasmine serves at the Lessie Bates Davis Family Development Early Childhood Center in East St. Louis. She is an educational advocate to over a dozen children at the early childhood center. Jasmine mentors children, communicates concerns to staff, and works with parents. She also networks with appropriate support service agencies to ensure children in the center have a promising future.
Jasmine encourages the children at the Family Development Center by pushing them to achieve their dreams. Staff have stated that Jasmine is an asset to the entire team. The students all love Jasmine and her impact will last beyond her AmeriCorps service.
Mark Holderbaugh first learned about Eastern Illinois Foodbank dearly a decade ago while participating in a food repackaging event. Mark continued to volunteer beyond the first repack, eventually becoming the Repack Captain. Repack Captains are responsible for leading volunteers to repacking food into smaller portions and ensuring food sanitation practices are followed. When Eastern Illinois Foodbank needed volunteers to help run the Foodmobile food distribution program, Mark stepped into another leadership role as Foodmobile Captain. As Foodmobile Captain he responsible for setting up, tearing town, gathering volunteers, and serving as the primary resource on the day of distribution.
After years of volunteering, Mark had the idea to develop food pantries to serve veterans. He championed a $75,000 grant application that resulted in full funding. The pop-up veteran pantry launched in November 2016 and has distributed food to over 2,000 veterans and their families. Mark has helped distribute nearly 1,108,000 meals to neighbors in need through Eastern Illinois Foodbank's 18-county service area.
Andrea was innovative in meeting the needs of the community through partnerships with teachers to discuss student needs. She was flexible with educational priorities and schedules, while delivering curriculum-centered materials that help meet core educational goals. During her service, Andrea created an after-school STEM program to share her love of science with the students of Roosevelt Elementary. She also introduced experiential learning methods that incorporate education through hands-on activities during camp, tutoring, and after school programming.
Andrea has formed alliances with other organizations, such as University of Illinois Extension, to utilize a broader range of materials for youth programs and services in Belleville schools. Belleville AmeriCorps is proud to call Andrea Berry an alum!
Kennedy's roles and responsibilities involve being in the field working at each food access partner site. Link2Feed is a new process for the Food Depository and their partners. Link2Feed has required Kennedy to demonstrate excellent customer service, flexibility, and creative thinking. The Food Depository has received over five compliments from partners regarding Kennedy's service during distribution to both the agency team and guests they serve.
One Food Depository Link2Feed partner commented, "Special thanks to Kennedy for her patience dealing with our clients. She showed excellent professionalism and outstanding guidance in the implementation of the new system. Her understanding of Link2Feed is exceptional."
Kennedy has overcome a laundry list of personal obstacles in the short term she has been at the Food Depository. She continues to face all obstacles with a smile on her face. Staff are constantly impressed by her persistence, positive attitude, and hard work shown in everything she does. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is excited to see how Kennedy continues to grow past her service year with AmeriCorps.
population, as most patients have a very limited level of health literacy. Health education allows patients to learn how to care for themselves and for their families through prevention and disease management.
Jose introduced the idea of combining CommunityHealth's diabetes education course with their healthy cooking course. As an outstanding instructor for both courses, Jose is able to teach the Spanish-speaking diabetic patients how to make real changes in their kitchens to manage blood sugar. Most of the the Spanish-speaking patients are originally from Mexico, as is Jose's family. With this shared heritage, he is able to provide culturally relevant health education that is realistic and appealing to class members. Patients are now able to get the education they need with fewer trips to the clinic.
Jose's impact on the Spanish speaking patients at CommunityHealth is immeasurable. He has spent more than 260 volunteer hours educating more than one hundred patients. The graduating classes have reported these changes have affected their entire household. The ripple of a healthy lifestyle can create a better life for generations to come.
Katie recognized a need for teens with developmental disabilities to experience stage or screen exposure. Initially a weekly meeting of 6 young actors with Down syndrome, the program quickly expanded to two classes a week accommodating an ensemble of 17 actors led by a roster of dedicated volunteers. Inspired by this rapid success, a group of core teaching artists branched out and established A.B.L.E. as a 501c3 in 2016 to expand creative opportunities for the community with developmental differences.
The core of A.B.L.E.'s programming are its ensembles for teens and adults. Supported by a staff of teaching artists and volunteer facilitators, ensembles work together to create theatre and film projects while strengthening lifelong skills including communication, confidence, and cooperation. Ensembles produce an average of 4 theatre performances each year, ranging from original stories devised by the ensemble to classics by Shakespeare, Dickens, and Gilbert & Sullivan. For these productions, A.B.L.E. partners with professional venues around Chicago.
Katie continues to expand creative and social opportunities through core ensembles, workshops, and outreach. By promoting practices that place participants with disabilities in the spotlight, Katie strives to shift societal preconceptions about disability. She hopes her work will continue to build more inclusive, empathetic communities.
To learn more about ABLE Ensemble check out their website at ABLE Ensemble.
to reach their highest potential. Since its founding in 1926, the Springfield Urban League has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans overcome countless challenges in civil and human rights.
The Springfield Urban League's AmeriCorps Program is designed to engage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity-building to address unmet needs. Services include mentoring youth, assisting disaster victims, helping with community gardens, assisting with the organization of community programs, and mobilizing community volunteers to strengthen the capacity of the organizations where they serve.
Currently, Shauniera performs tasks around the main building in the Springfield Urban League. She enjoys the opportunity to help her community while having a flexible schedule. Her favorite part about being an AmeriCorps member is making a difference in the lives of others.
Shauniera believes that being an AmeriCorps member has helped her become more community service minded and more aware of her community's needs.
Lance is a dedicated tutor, working with student-athletes to not only complete homework assignments and prepare for tests, but really understand the concepts they are learning. He understands that while passing a test and getting the grade is important, math goes much further. Lance strives to make math understandable and applicable to life beyond the classroom.
Lance goes above and beyond to make time for student-athletes. He is available for questions and last-minute study support if student-athletes feel unprepared for tests or assignments.
Lance has been known to attend games and cheer on those in the program. He supports the Beyond Sports Foundation student-athletes both inside and outside the classroom. Lance is a valuable member of the Beyond Sports team.
Book Bank and Barnes and Noble. This partnership raised more than 10,000 books for students across the Chicago area.
Peyton recognized that if she could make a difference at her age, others could too. At the time, many organizations didn't accept young volunteers. Her desire to give youth an opportunity to make a difference was the start of My Voice. My Voice is an organization that focuses on getting children and teens involved in their communities to create positive and meaningful change.
Peyton understands the value of giving back. She serves on the Ronald McDonald Teen Advisory Board, Student Council, and VHGive Executive Board. Peyton has inspired others to follow in her footsteps. She helps children and teens and children find volunteer opportunities for causes they are passionate about.
community organizer, wife, and mom. Gabriela desires to see parents use their voices to invoke the change they wish to see in their local communities and schools.
When Gabriela came on board for the United Way of Metro Chicago AmeriCorps Program, she brought her bright personality and experience to the table. She has found power and strength in her voice and does not doubt the change she can make on a new level. Recently she coordinated a partnership between her service site and a clothing store to provide winter clothing to families who needed in need.
The enthusiasm she brings to her service is contagious. Gabriela has a promising future in the community engagement world as she continues to build relationships with everyone she meets.
Whiteside, Carroll, Ogle, Bureau, and Henry counties in Illinois. The area ABC AmeriCorps members serve is predominantly rural. Members serve in schools, after school programs, and non-profit agencies.
Kari helps and encourages adults who are working towards their GED at the local unemployment office. She helps them with GED preparation and shares her own experience of being a GED student. Kari has overcome hardships in her life as a high school dropout and single mom. She turned her hardship into success by completing her GED and continuing to finish her bachelor's degree. Kari has shared these personal and professional experience to relate to her GED students.
Kari has successfully instilled persistence and hope into each of her students. By her commitment and example, students have seen they are capable of much more than they think. By her example, they will become examples of hope to others and make an impact in their communities.
Mr. Mycyk coordinated a relationship between RTMS students and professional media figures. Club members have produced brilliant school news programming with the help of media experts. He has provided a forum for students to learn about an industry to which they would normally have limited access. The students now have the courage to record a daily news program for the entire school to watch.
Broadcasting and Media Club has significant meaning because of the connection to a broad array of students. Mr. Mycyk's influence has empowered students to go outside of their comfort zones and try something new. Teachers have commented on how impressed they are with what the students have learned in such a short period of time. The club builds self-esteem that will benefit students far beyond the halls of River Trails Middle School.
Although media programming is limited to the school, its scope far exceeds anything ever imagined. The club has impacted school culture by exposing viewers to a more diverse group of peers representing them. Mr. Mycyk provided River Trails Middle School students and staff an unbelievable experience, and he did it as a volunteer.
to older adults, and housing economic development services which will help move individuals and families out of poverty.
Vashon is a volunteer at the LBDNH Trinity Outreach Center Food Pantry. The food pantry, located in Washington Park, provides food boxes, clothing, household appliances, personal hygiene items and much more. The food pantry refers clients to other departments at the agency when additional assistance is needed. The food pantry also provides nutritional education, SNAP education, care for veterans and seniors and an opportunity for community service work.
Vashon is the first member to arrive and the last member to leave. He helps to distribute food boxes to citizens throughout the community. Vashon assists with the loading of the food truck, keeping the food pantry clean, and helps gather food and items from local and nearby shelters.
Vashon loves volunteering for AmeriCorps because AmeriCorps allows him the opportunity to be active in his community and be a source of help to others.
Zoë had a student who received acceptance to a small liberal arts college. After visiting the campus, the student fell in love with the school. However, due to cost, that student determined she would have to attend a comparatively less expensive school that was closer to home. Zoë was determined to exhaust every option at that students' disposal. With her help and encouragement, the student was able to advocate for herself and secure an additional $2,500 grant. Similar situations occurred with four other students in her cohort. After Zoë's intervention, each of the schools provided additional funding. Now those students are on their way to attending their top choices.
In addition to her dedication to students, Zoë has encouraged and supported many of her team members. Team members have described Zoë as a true team leader. She is reliable, and her leadership skills are second to none. Members say Zoë seems to know all the answers, and when she doesn't, she is determined to figure them out.
Zoë is a patient, loyal, reliable, and hardworking AmeriCorps member. She has a big heart and endless patience with both students and her fellow team members. Zoë is communicative, eloquent, and a strong leader; she is never afraid to speak her truth.
assist individuals and communities to reach their highest potential. Since its founding in 1926, the Springfield Urban League has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans overcome countless challenges in civil and human rights.
The Springfield Urban League's AmeriCorps Program is designed to engage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity-building to address unmet needs. Services include mentoring youth, assisting disaster victims, helping with community gardens, assisting with the organization of community programs, and mobilizing community volunteers to strengthen the capacity of the organizations where they serve.
L'Sonya serves at Washington Middle School- 21st Century, Southeast High Athletic Events, and at other District 186 events. Through these opportunities she serves in the after-school homework program, works at the admissions table, and help with concessions and cleanup. She participates in a variety of service events with District 186 in Springfield throughout the year.
Her Favorite part about being an AmeriCorps member is helping others, meeting new people, and impacting the lives of others through service. L'Sonya enjoys the educational benefits of being an AmeriCorps member. Her financial reward is a way for her to empower herself and help others.
AmeriCorps member in her second year of service with Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.).
Alex has become a mentor to our first year members, is Co-Chair of our AmeriCorps Cohort Committee, participates in Y.O.U's equity committees, plans member outings and service projects, and shares knowledge with staff members. On top of this, she is incredibly dedicated to the youth she serves in Y.O.U.'s free after school programs.
Alex takes it her goal to facilitate enrichment activities that encompass youth voice in the Youth & Opportunity United free after school program. Alex is currently running an enrichment group where students get to use MetaMedia in Evanston to write and record original songs. One student recently told Alex that participating in her group was their most fun day in a long time.
Alex offers students respect and support that positively affects their behavior. She's also given students countless hours of academic support. Alex communicates with students about growth areas and taking initiative in their education. After this service year, Alex will be enrolling in grad school working toward a master's degree in Social Work.
Through Kiwanis Club, William has helped raise enough money to provide scholarships for students continuing their education. Under William's direction, the club has also helped promote gun safety instruction in local schools.
William's service is not limited to Marion Kiwanis. He also serves as Associate Pastor of March of Faith Community Church. In this role he acts as a positive, encouraging, role model for youth and adolescents. William has also become a lead volunteer during the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. As a son of a veteran, the honor flight is something he always makes time for.
When not volunteering, William is working as Assistant Administrator for a local hospital where he guides strategic planning to impact those throughout the community. William truly lives to make a positive impact on the world.
years of experience with 3D printers. Craig began volunteering in the adult 3D classes and soon began assisting KidSpace staff with younger CAD attendees.
The library owns two separate 3D printers, one of which was constantly not working. Prior to Craig's arrival, the library was considering purchasing a new printer to replace the malfunctioning one. After countless hours of volunteer time and patience, Craig was able to fix the printer.
Craig's time and experience have been invaluable to Gail Borden Public Library. Without his volunteer efforts, programs may have been cancelled or limited to the public. There seems to be no technology he isn't afraid to use, teach, or troubleshoot.
Craig has volunteered over 200 hours in just 6 short months. His impact on the community will be remembered for years to come.
As their impact has grown, so has the evidence that their holistic approach to human services improves lives now and for generations ahead. Today, AHS serves everyone who seeks their help, regardless of race or ethnicity. While they continue to deepen their mission with immigrant and refugee communities, all are welcome.
Edith serves as the Daycare & Family Engagement Assistant at Asian Human Services’ Literacy Education for Adults and Families (LEAF) Program. There, she spends the majority of her time guiding young children—most of whom are immigrants and English language learners—in their cognitive, social, linguistic, and emotional growth.
Despite a long commute and the usual challenges that come with a rowdy classroom of 2 year-olds, ‘Ms. Edith’ shows up every day with a smile and open arms. This positive presence extends beyond just her students, as Edith helps to organize and lead monthly family engagement activities to boost parent involvement. Whether it’s cradling a restless child to help them fall asleep or baking cookies for families to decorate, Edith is dedicated in her care of others.
Mentoring sessions include non-judgmental one-on-one discussions designed to help the Little make good life choices. Topics covered during the sessions range from the importance of your digital footprint and making good friendship choices to preparing for college. The 20 Illinois Comcast employees who volunteered their time this year all agree that they've personally gotten a lot out of volunteering for the program.
For more information about Comcast's giving strategy, visit @ComcastNBCUCI, @ComcastILLINOIS on Twitter or go to www.comcast.com/community
knowledge of the military. Christine has been a volunteer at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library (PMML) since 2006. She has completed over 4,576 service hours, reflecting her unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of PMML.
PMML’s mission is to acquire and maintain an accessible collection of books and related materials on military history, with a focus on the concept of the Citizen Soldier in America. Today, building upon that foundation through the generosity of private donors, PMML has become a non-partisan museum and library that attempts to increase the public understanding of military history and the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served. Christine is dedicated to fulfilling this mission and foundation in each her volunteer activities.
Christine has successfully facilitated the Oral History Program, catalogued over 2,000 military photos, and tagged approximately 50,000 books for the new library system. She acts as a liaison between organizations completing similar tasks such the Korean War Museum and the American Legion.
Christine’s efforts are not limited to PMML. She takes pride in honoring families who have lost loved ones in service. Christine has been active in organizing the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and is a Board Member of the Hershel Woody Williams Foundation. She is also an Associate Member of the Korean War Veterans Association and an Auxiliary Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2791.
In her own neighborhood, Christine is an active volunteer for the Tinley Park Veterans Commission. Christine’s service is vital in a society where less than 5% of the population serve in the armed forces or in a national service.
and loving grandmother at her side. Cassie’s Little Sister is also an amputee, making Big Brothers Big Sisters nothing short of a perfect match. Cassie helps her Little Sister break the barriers she faces daily to realize her true potential.
Cassie has been an active Safety Assistant at her workplace for approximately 2 years. She has received and completed invaluable training on First Aid/CPR/AED and Stop the Bleed Training as a Safety Team member. She is a kindhearted, brave, and confident individual. In an emergency, whether it is a fire, tornado or other event, she helps all staff members in their building evacuate and get to safety or take cover quickly when the situation calls for it. Cassie puts her coworkers’ safety before her own by offering additional evacuation assistance to staff with mobility challenges. Her fellow employees all know that Cassie will put her training to use and do all that she can in an emergency.
Cassie’s motto is simple: “I will help. I will do more than is expected of me to help others. I am important and so is everyone around me.” She truly is a born leader and selfless volunteer. For more information about volunteer opportunities with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capital Region, please visit: https://bbbsspringfieldil.org/
the outdoors, and everything in between. No matter what you're passionate about, where you're from, or why you choose to serve, AmeriCorps is your chance to be the greater good. The mission of SVCC AmeriCorps (ABC) is to work with children, youth, and families in education programs and community-based agencies to increase academic and life skills.
While assisting with GED preparation, Kari shares her personal experience of being a GED student. Kari uses her personal and professional experience to connect with each student. She shares her experiences of overcoming hardships as a high school dropout and single mom. She shares how she turned her hardship into success by completing her GED and later finishing her bachelor's degree.
Kari instills persistence and hope into each of her students. Through her commitment to teaching, students see they are capable of much more than they initially thought. By her example, students will become beacons of hope to others and make positive impacts in their communities.
a group basis or 1-to-1 in a positive manner. Jalen works with teachers and instructional aides to develop, support, and deliver activities. He demonstrates creativity and determination in completing tasks for program success.
Jalen greets every student with a handshake or a high five to put a smile on their faces. Students have stated that “Jalen is the best person around,” “Jalen is cool,” and “I always look for Jalen to giving me a high five.” Teachers have stated, “Jalen is extremely great with the students,” “The student’s love Jalen,” and “Jalen is a natural”.
Jalen has volunteered at many different sites and participated in a variety of community services events and activities, but volunteering at the Dunbar Elementary School is one he will always remember. When asked why Jalen serves for AmeriCorps he said he loves to help people and AmeriCorps gives him a platform to do so.
The National Honor Society of Spoon River Valley High School organized and held a fundraising blood drive earlier this year. The National Honor Society is comprised of students with exceptional character, scholarship, leadership, and service. The Spoon River Valley High School faculty determines membership based on criteria demonstrated by student applications. Every year, the NHS sponsors two blood drives through the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center.
This year, the students reached their goal of units donated and were awarded a grant of $273 due to their exceptional efforts. The students decided to donate the funding to Fulton County ESDA’s Project Lifesaver Program. Project Lifesaver helps individuals with Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia or other impairments that may cause them to wander. Those in the program wear a small personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle.
The students are huge fans of Fulton County ESDA’s newest team member, Trash Panda. Fulton County ESDA Director, Chris Helle’s family adopted Trash Panda from the Humane Society of Fulton County. Since then, Trash Panda has become a meme sensation for the agency’s Facebook page and a true member of the ESDA team. Behind the jokes, Helle says he’s thankful Trash Panda is bringing attention to serious safety topics in a fun way while raising awareness for the Humane Society.
Nora has continued to be involved with the program at the SRHAC shelter in the Austin neighborhood Chicago. She helps to enroll the children at the beginning of each program session and conducts reading assessments to provide information on students’ reading levels. She supports the Site Coordinators in managing student behavior while helping the children with their homework, reading skills, and enrichment activities four afternoons/week.
Nora was instrumental in seeking funds for a field trip for the children and their families to the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). She received a grant that provided a bus, tickets to the museum, and lunch for the families and volunteers who helped chaperone for the day at MSI. Everyone had an amazing time!
Chicago HOPES for Kids wants to thank Nora for her dedication to the children and families at the SRHAC shelter. She has been an inspiration for all around her!
In a recent speech competition, Kayla referred to Julie as not just a tutor, but a teammate. She described Julie as, “someone who will cheer you on, believe in you, and have those conversations when you’re not performing to your full potential.” Julie’s AmeriCorps Program Supervisor and AmeriCorps Alum, Carrie Madden, agrees that she embodies these traits in every aspect of her service.
Julie works with student-athletes on strengthening weaknesses, while reminding them how strong they really are. She makes a point to celebrate everyone’s strengths and victories.
recycling information to designing Libertyville’s sustainability webpage. Jordan is thrilled to work in several areas of sustainability and learn more about local government. Jordan has been able to interact with the public on a regular basis and share the message of service around his community through AmeriCorps. In addition to his passionate work in Libertyville, Jordan has stepped up to organize fellow Greenest Region Corps members. He voluntarily takes on communications and practical tasks to help the Corps members excel. He developed a tracking tool to help other community staff track progress on a common solar initiative.
Jordan volunteered to attend a village board meeting in his hometown of Lake in the Hills to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for sustainability. This task was above and beyond his duties to his host community. He has been a great supporter and motivator to all members of the Greenest Region Corps as our program develops in year one!
boots, extra food, bus tokens, and hygiene items to those in need. She is affectionately referred to as Miss Julie by those she serves. The community support for Helping the Homeless in Springfield, IL has been astounding. Physical and monetary donations are all provided by individuals and businesses around Springfield who want to help. In the last year, the number of followers on the Helping the Homeless Facebook page has more than doubled. Julie meets with people to receive their donations and delivers items directly to those experiencing homelessness. Helping the Homeless not only assists Springfield’s homeless, but also low income individuals. A cargo van was given to her as a retirement gift from Henson Robinson Company to help with deliveries. Magnetic logo decals for the van were generously donated by those from the community.
During the frigid polar vortex of early February, Miss Julie was there to provide relief. She got 57 people off the street and into local motels until warmer weather returned. Those she helped would have otherwise been stranded outside all day and night. Miss Julie was able to purchase 3 nights of motel rooms for all 57 people. Those in need received the opportunity to shower, sleep on a bed, wash their clothing, and experience normalcy, if only for a few nights. Her volunteer work has been a live-saving blessing to many, as brutal cold temperatures continue into March. To learn more, please visit Helping the Homeless in Springfield, IL on Facebook.
Aaron volunteers at The Joseph Center-Eagles Nest of St. Clair County, located in East St. Louis, Illinois. The center houses 26 homeless veterans and serves as a transitional living facility. At the Joseph Center, Aaron helps assist staff and counselors to develop, support, and deliver activities to male veterans. Aaron sits and talks with the veterans and often engages in games and recreational activities. Every day Aaron impacts the lives of homeless male veterans to achieve success, economic stability, and reattachment to their community.
Staff members describe Aaron as a hard worker, a friendly person, and a great addition to their team. Aaron states that being around the veterans has made such a huge impact on his commitment to serving others.
Primarily working with African Americans, Hispanics, and other emerging ethnic communities, Springfield Urban League is networked with over 100 professionally staffed affiliates in over 35 states. The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities.
The Springfield Urban League’s AmeriCorps Program is designed to engage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity-building to address unmet needs. Services include mentoring youth, assisting disaster victims, helping with community gardens, assisting with the organization of community programs, and mobilizing community volunteers to strengthen the capacity of the organizations where they serve.
Currently, Karran helps youth with their homework at Feitshans Academy for the 21st Century Program. What he enjoys most about the AmeriCorps program is the opportunity to help his community. “Has being am AmeriCorps member helped you become more community service minded? If so in what ways?” asked Springfield Urban League AmeriCorps Program Director, Erica Austin. “Yes because it makes me think how I can make my community better,” replied Karran.
Home is a residential therapeutic facility for youth who have experienced trauma. The Youth Care Worker position can be difficult because it requires an aptitude for a variety of skills. Khristina has proven to be an excellent communicator with youth, families, and coworkers. She has the ability to interact with at-risk youth and their families with both sensitivity and responsiveness to any situation. Khristina’s capacity for working with the diverse, ever-changing population is an excellent asset to Mercy Home.
Some of Khristina’s greatest strengths are her compassion for others and her positive “can do” attitude. Khristina’s enthusiasm towards her work and life are contagious. She is bright, hardworking, thoughtful, and mature. Khristina is passionately devoted to everything she does. She has demonstrated her commitment to serving Mercy Home youth and families as an advocate and role model.
Khristina was recently voted by her coworkers to be the Staff Member of the Week. Congratulations to Khristina for proving every day that she is committed to helping youth reach their goals and make their dreams a reality.
this week’s Volunteer of the Week due to their commitment to helping the less fortunate in Sangamon County. Carl and Gailyn are responsible for starting Scarves for Springfield. Scarves for Springfield is a project to help the homeless and needy by donating cold weather accessories. The project is part of a national movement called The Scarf Project founded by Ohio woman, Toni Kaltenbaugh. After reading Toni’s article on Facebook, the Drapers found themselves inspired. They wanted to bring the same kind of support to the town they call home. “The idea is simple: Warm our community one scarf at a time,” Gailyn said. “Our goal is to do what we can to help those in need.”
First, donations of new scarves are collected and a venue is found. Scarves, gloves, and thermal socks are then hung at the selected location for one day. All items are free to anybody who needs some added warmth. At the end of that day whatever has not been taken is donated to Contact Ministries and Washington Street Mission. These organizations continue to distribute the items to people in need.
Amid this week’s frigid temperatures, Scarves for Springfield sprang into action. Over 150 items were hung on the fence of the Old State Capitol between Wednesday and Saturday. “A scarf is a simple and small thing for most of us, something that any individual can do, but an action that can make a profound difference for someone in need,” Gailyn said. “It’s the price of a specialty coffee.”
The Drapers hope to continue Scarves for Springfield in the years to come. Donations of scarves are welcome. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
development services, comprehensive youth services, individual and family support services, services to older adults, and housing economic development services to help move individuals and families out of poverty. Mr. Jones volunteers at the Senior Citizen Café located in East St. Louis, Illinois. Breakfast and Lunch are served at the Café, giving the seniors not only a nutritious meal, but also a sense of community and belonging. At the Café, Mr. Jones is a “Meals-on-Wheels” driver. He is responsible for delivering meals to senior citizens in the surrounding area who are handicap, disabled, or reported lack of maintaining meals.
Mr. Jones greets every senior citizen with respect. He cracks jokes and puts a smile on everyone’s face. He also helps with distributing meals to those at the Café during breakfast and lunch periods. Mr. Jones has volunteered at many different sites and participated in a variety of events and activities. He says volunteering at the Senior Citizens Café has been his favorite.
When asked why does why he serves for AmeriCorps, Mr. Jones replied, “I love to give back to others and I want to help everyone smile.”
Odis felt so blessed by the services and care received, that he decided to volunteer as a way to serve others walking his same difficult journey. Odis serves weekly at Christian Care, taking phone calls and filling out crisis sheets for those who need a place to stay. When it's especially cold outside, he hands out gloves, hats, and other donated items to keep people warm. Christian Care residents talk to Odis about their personal challenges with homelessness, alcohol or drug abuse, and other difficulties they face with life on the street. He shares many of their experiences and while many view Odis as a mentor, he prefers to think of himself as a "friend who listens."
Odis has a bright future ahead. During his time at Christian Care, Odis earned his GED and moved into his own apartment. He has now made the bold decision to go to college where he'll be starting classes this winter.
volunteer literacy programs that help families, adults and out-of-school teens increase their literary skill. When Carol started at the Illinois Youth Center as an AmeriCorps member she hit the ground running. It did not take long to recognize that tutoring came second nature to her. The patience and kindness she shows towards her students is nothing short of extraordinary. She treats the youth at the Center as if they were part of her family. On one specific occasion, one of the female students threw a fit in the library next door. Carol carefully observed the students behavior. The next day before starting her tutoring session, Carol began to talk with the student regarding consequences of her actions. Carol described how negative behavior would continue to get her in trouble and could keep her from reaching her future goals.
Carol’s LVI program contact says she feels so fortunate to have Carol as a part-time AmeriCorps member. Carol not only is a very knowledgeable tutor, but is also incredibly compassionate towards her students.
Neighborhood House. The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House is a United Methodist Community Center whose mission is to improve the quality of life for residents of all ages by providing quality early childhood development services, comprehensive youth services, individual and family support services, services to older adults, and housing economic development services which will help move individuals and families out of poverty. Steve has been volunteering at the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House Trinity Outreach Center Food Pantry for months. Steve has volunteered in numerous programs through AmeriCorps, local vendors, and community events. He has greatly enjoyed the experience of serving others.
At the Trinity Outreach Center Food Pantry, Steve drives a van that transports food, vegetables, and other items for community residents. Steve assists with other projects and helps in the pantry whenever needed. The director of the Food Pantry describes Steve has a “hard worker” and states he is always going the extra mile to get everything done.