Last updated: April 11. 2014 3:16PM - 1347 Views
By - mhowlett@civitasmedia.com

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Twenty-three of 27 AmeriCorps workers gathered at Town Hall in Hillsville on April 1 for a proclamation signing by Mayor Greg Crowder. The proclamation recognizes AmeriCorps for its “positive impact” and commitment to the people of Hillsville.

Although AmeriCorps started out as a tutoring program in the schools, it has now expanded to a total community service program that impacts peoples’ live on many levels, said Tonyia Gibson, the director of AmeriCorps in Carroll County.

“There are a lot of things we do during the course of the year that impact the community. In addition to tutoring, we do landscaping, hold with food drives, help at Joy Ranch and participate in Healthy Heart Day (at Carroll County Middle School), among other things,” said Gibson.

“I was quite amazed at what all you do,” said Crowder.

AmeriCorps’ Reading for Life, the organization’s signature program, has enrolled about 294 members since September of 2003, and these members have served at least 377,700 hours in the schools and community. This year alone, 27 members will serve at least 26,100 hours tutoring kindergarten through eighth-grade students in reading and doing service projects in the community. In addition, math tutoring has been added this year at two schools, Carroll County Middle School and the Carroll-Galax Regional Alternative Education (RAE) Center.

In exchange for their volunteer work, members earn a Segal Education Award, which can be used for future college study or to help pay off student loans. During 2013-2014, 29 will earn a total of $65,975 to be used toward their education.

“We have a lot of members who are going to college, plus doing tutoring,” said Gibson. “If you’re 55 or older, you can give the money to a child or a grandchild.”

In the past, members could spend only two years as part of the AmeriCorps organization, but that has now been extended to four years.

In addition to the previously mentioned service, AmeriCorps also participates in the following: National Night Out in Galax, Carroll County Agricultural Fair, 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Service Drive to End Hunger Food Drive, Service Fair sponsored by the Carroll County and Galax City Special Education Departments, Support the Troops Collections, Multicultural Festival at Oakland Elementary School, Make A Difference Day (Foster Falls Island campground restoration), Christmas party at Wheatland Retirement Center, Foster Falls Festival of Lights, Carroll County Christmas Canned Food Drive, Martin Luther King Day of Service, Earth Day events at schools, Special Olympics Fishing Rodeo, Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive with U.S. Postal Service, Parent Connect Childcare, and three 15-week sessions of Strengthening Families parenting classes.

Nationwide, AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 800,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.

Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311 or on Twitter@MikeEHowlett

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