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AmeriCorps Team working with the Mojave Desert Land Trus

AmeriCorps Team working with the Mojave Desert Land Trus

Published in the Hi-Desert Star – February 26, 2016

AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2 Team after working to reestablish growth in the Windy Gap area.

AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2 Team after working to reestablish growth in the Windy Gap area.

AmeriCorps is the nation’s primary public service program. It engages more than 75,000 Americans in service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. It has benefited numerous communities and given young Americans from the age of 18 to 24 a chance to serve, travel, and experience life from a grassroots point of view.

This team of AmeriCorps members was first sent to Lake County, in Northern California, after the 3rd worst fire in California history. They were assigned the task of handing out donations, sorting and organizing 80,000 pounds of clothes, home furnishings, supplies, and comforting people who had been displaced by the fire.

“We had a store in the beginning,” said Emma Hamilton, one of the AmeriCorps members. “It was a lot of outreach into the community, seeing what needed to be done, talking to survivors and hearing their stories; being a support team. It’s a really hard thing to come in and ask for help after you have lost everything.”

After intensive interviews, AmeriCorps handpicks members of a team and sends them into areas to work with different groups. When signing up, Hamilton could have been sent to one of five different campuses: Sacramento, California, Vicksburg, Mississippi, Denver, Colorado, Vinton, Iowa or Baltimore, Maryland. Hamilton said it was a lottery, and her group was picked to serve in the Pacific Northwest region.

AmeriCorps members, receive minimal living expenses and a modest education stipend. Those in the program, do invaluable work, like tutoring, mentoring, cleaning-up of protected lands and responding to disasters and emergencies. Its members have provided teaching, tutoring, after-school help and other services in more than 10,000 public schools, including one-third of the nation’s persistently low-achieving schools. Too often, the impact of AmeriCorps’ work is overlooked.

Recent studies cited in a New York Times editorial from August 2014, stated, “people who participated in AmeriCorps were more likely to volunteer and be engaged in their communities after their year of service than people who had not served.”

This group will serve a total of nine weeks with the Mojave Desert Land Trust, and that service ends March 15th.

Monica Mahoney, Director of Programs and Community Initiatives for MDLT, said, “Our AmeriCorps Gold 2 team is a tremendous asset to our conservation work and our community. They are a vibrant, disciplined and dedicated team. They have become true ambassadors, helping create new trails for public access to our properties as well as working in the community doing outreach. Each team member brings complimentary skills to the table. Their tour here is almost over. We don’t want them to go!”

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