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AmeriCorps to the rescue

There are 11 young volunteers working with local youths to improve their lives


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Recently, when students were still in school, AmeriCorps volunteers worked in one of AntFarms outdoor programs, a community garden. Pictured, from left, are Katy Cummings, Camille McMillan and Rachel Hanson.  Suburban Auto Group donates the use of this land for the garden.For two months, Sandy’s AntFarm programs for area youths are benefiting from a group of AmeriCorps volunteers.

AntFarm Director Nunpa said there is at least one AmeriCorps volunteer in each of the nonprofit group’s programs — working with young people; teaching them the skills they can share; and setting an example of mature judgment and altruism.

The 11 AmeriCorps volunteers have been assigned to programs that match their interests and skills.

In the garden, they are demonstrating proper techniques and assisting in preparing the soil and planting vegetables.

With the newest project of remodeling a building near Scales Avenue and Proctor Boulevard to use as headquarters for all of AntFarm’s outdoor programs, they are involved in demolition, rebuilding and clearing the adjacent land.

Meanwhile, another four volunteers are developing programs in the headquarters facility near Meinig Avenue and Proctor Boulevard. The programs they are developing include a farmer’s market; students gaining college credit and taking GED courses in AntFarm’s tutoring center; cans and bottle recycling as a fundraiser; and the logistics of opening the new café (scheduled for early June).

But on Saturdays, all of the AmeriCorps volunteers as well as a number of AntFarm youths perform their CommunityConnect service for the week by assisting disabled or elderly residents with some tasks they are unable to do.

“With this group,” Nunpa said, “we were able to assign each of them to a program that matched their interest and talent. (Doing that) was really awesome.”

With nearly three weeks left for AmeriCorps to be involved in AntFarm, Nunpa is happy with the results of the volunteers’ efforts.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “With all the AntFarm activities we have going on right now, it has been so amazing to have these really dedicated young people. They’re doing this because they want to; they really want to help our community. So it has been an incredible asset — not only to us, but also to the community.”

The 11 AmeriCorps volunteers came to Sandy from their campus in Sacramento, Calif.

AmeriCorps is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 1,200 young adults serve nationwide each year. During their 10-month term, AmeriCorps members — all 18-24 years old — work on teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development.

Members work on a series of different projects, typically lasting six to eight weeks each, to mentor students, construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans and address many other local needs.

The Sacramento campus is one of five regional hubs in the United States and serves eight states in the Western part of the country. The other campuses are located in Maryland, Iowa, Mississippi and Colorado.

In exchange for their service, AmeriCorps members receive $5,550 to help pay for college or to pay back existing student loans. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, increased self-confidence and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, they can make a difference.

For more information about AmeriCorps, visit americorps.gov/nccc.