National service 'getting things done' in state

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Almost 700 AmeriCorps workers are busy at any given time across Mississippi, doing jobs that serve “compelling community needs” from setting up school-based tutoring programs to helping remove debris after tornadoes and other disasters.
Throughout the state, Senior Service Corps volunteers also meet community needs by delivering meals, serving as “foster grandparents” and performing countless other tasks.
Both organizations and others are part of the federally funded Corporation for National and Community Service, and its statewide leaders were in Oxford on Tuesday to invite leaders of nonprofit organizations to find uses for the programs. One that carries the potential for great impact in a short time is the AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps, whose five campuses are in Maryland, Colorado, Iowa, California and Vicksburg, Miss.
“It’s basically free labor,” said Judy Stein, AmeriCorps director for Mississippi. “This team of 10 to 12 AmeriCorps members load up, come to you and work on your project.” The volunteers, whose benefits include training, health insurance, a small stipend and post-service educational assistance, work more than 40 hours per week under supervision provided by the nonprofit they’re serving.
One exception to the standard 25 percent grant match comes through sponsorships.
“We’re seeing more teams whose matches are paid by corporations, and they’ll slap a corporate logo on their uniforms,” said Caitlyn Brooking, AmeriCorps trainer for Mississippi.
Stein said AmeriCorps can be a great transition into adulthood and adventure, with year-long commitments from full-time to 300 hours.
One new service in this region under the Corporation for National and Community Service umbrella will link volunteers with the organizations that need them.
“We’ve got a new volunteer center coming to Oxford,” said Stephen Monroe, who coordinates many campus volunteer initiatives from the Office of the Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi. “It will have an office on the Square.”
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