Each September, there are lots of fresh faces at the YWCA Central Alabama as we welcome all the new AmeriCorps members beginning their year of service. This year, our AmeriCorps program hosts 40 members serving at the YW or one of our 18 partner agencies.
A national service initiative, AmeriCorps is similar to the Peace Corps, but members commit to at least one year of service nationally, rather than internationally. Since its inception, more than 800,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service to their country. Last year, local YWCA AmeriCorps members served more than 53,000 hours, benefiting the Birmingham metro area and Shelby, Blount and St. Clair counties.
It is always an honor to have such an outstanding group of members year after year. New member Shir Carson, who is serving at Woodlawn Foundation, said she is excited about her time with AmeriCorps. “It fits everything I believe in,” she said, adding that she has a very service-oriented family. “My mother was deeply into service, and I was always taught that you lend a hand to someone.”
Rex Walker, a graduate of Samford University who is serving with our Healthy Relationships program, said that AmeriCorps is a perfect fit for him and will allow him to really make an impact. “I hope to learn something about myself and grow as a person,” he said. “I’m hoping also that I can give something back to the community as well.”
It’s a tradition for our new members to participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. Each year, our members visit a community organization and join forces to better the lives of those in the community. This year, they went to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, where they packaged and prepared food for food insecure families and individuals in our area.
What a difference they made! In one morning, the members packed and sorted 11.3 tons of food, the equivalent of 18,890 meals, according to Jon Barnacastle, programs assistant for the food bank. The group filled 2,336 backpacks with food for the Weekend Backpackers program, which will allow 58 chronically hungry children to take food home every weekend during the 2014-2015 school year. They also packed 2.5 tons of food, enough for 4,075 meals, into grocery boxes for 134 families.
“Our programs cannot function without our wonderful volunteers and our faithful donors,” Barnacastle said. “We extend our deepest thanks to all of the AmeriCorps members who made it out.” New member Tara Ransom said she was thrilled the group could make such an impact. “It brought tears to my eyes when we heard the numbers of how many children and families would be aided by all that food,” she said. “It was awesome!”
The next day, September 12, members concluded their first week of service by traveling to Montgomery to honor the 20th anniversary of the AmeriCorps program. Members from across Alabama gathered on the lawn in front of the state capitol to take the AmeriCorps pledge.
We are very proud of all of the dedication already displayed by our members. They’ve truly made a positive difference in our community.
If you would like to become a volunteer for the YWCA or learn more about how you can donate to one of our programs, click here.
If you are interested in AmeriCorps or want members to help with your nonprofit, contact Angela Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.