New Orleans -- The Corporation for National and Community Service presented nine outstanding volunteer programs and participants with the Service Impact Award at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service today.
The Service Impact Awards recognize the outstanding impact made by everyday citizens who serve their communities. Awards were judged upon the impact made in the one of the six focus areas outlined in the agency's five year Strategic Plan: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.
This is national service at its best, said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The work being done every day by these remarkable individuals shows how the power of service can transform communities and be the solution to pressing local challenges across the nation.
Honorees received the award at the closing ceremony of the conference, which featured the Daily Show's John Oliver, R&B legend Percy Sledge, CNBC's Nicole Lapin, First Lady of New Orleans Cheryl Landrieu and other entertainers and leaders.
The conference, sponsored by CNCS and Points of Light Institute, brought 4,000 service leaders to New Orleans to connect and develop strategies solve pressing issues across the nation through service and volunteering.
Listed below are the recipients and their stories of service:
- Norman Moeller, Missoula Aging Services RSVP: Norman Moeller, an RSVP volunteer since 2002, joined the RSVP Community Task Force (CTF). The CTF links highly skilled and motivated volunteers with Missoula County agencies and local non-profits to increase capacity and address key community needs. In 2009, when the City-County Health Department needed help with H1N1 pandemic flu prevention efforts, Moeller organized hundreds of volunteers and played a major role at emergency immunization clinics. His efforts helped make more than 22,000 immunizations possible.
- The American Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative: Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative is an AmeriCorps VISTA project that places AmeriCorps VISTA members at American Red Cross chapters to work in rural and impoverished counties within Tennessee. VISTAs on the project build partnerships and contacts within rural communities and identify facilities that could serve as post-impact disaster shelters. The largest test of the Rural Initiative occurred during the Tennessee flood of May 2010. The flood was a 1,000-year disaster that affected Western and Central Tennessee. VISTAs on the project had been building disaster relief capacity in the affected areas and were prepared to respond.
- ReSOURCE YouthBuild: ReSOURCE YouthBuild is an AmeriCorps program offering at-risk, high school drop-outs a combination of academics, community service, and job training skills while they build affordable housing for low-income Vermonters. This unique program provides young people valuable construction experience while they learn energy efficiency skills. In recent years, the program has emerged as a leader in environmental stewardship. Through its deconstruction service, young people engage in the recycling and marketing of building materials into household products. The Building Material Center Retail Store, operated by YouthBuild AmeriCorps members, offers no or low-cost materials to low income individuals and non-profit organizations and provides education and training opportunities to unemployed or under-employed individuals in the areas of office management, retail and maintenance.
- Experience Corps: The Experience Corps vision is simple but profound: “Older adults in service to children are an integral part of the education strategy across America. Through this generational exchange, children succeed, older adults thrive, and communities are made stronger. Experience Corps is an award-winning program that engages older adults to serve as academic mentors and tutors for school-aged children in 21 cities nationwide. Experience Corps seeks to improve the academic achievement of students by providing literacy instruction matched to their needs through one-to-one tutoring and classroom assistance.
- Si Se Puede Learning Centers -- The Cesar Chavez Foundation: The Sí Se Puede Learning Centers (SSPLC) are a project of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA provide members to its programs where they work directly with K-5 low-income students, focusing on math, literacy, technology, and self-esteem. During the 2009 – 2010 year, students of SSPLC improved 78% in literature, 83% in math, 72% in behavior, and 75% in attendance. The SSPLC is carrying on the work of Cesar Chavez to end poverty and most importantly, to ensure that our children have a safe, uplifting place to go to at the end of the day.
- Earl Millett, Jr.: For more than a decade, Earl Millett, Jr. has touched the lives of thousands of people through his volunteer service with AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and now as the Volunteer Director of Civic Works, a Baltimore AmeriCorps program dedicated to engaging at-risk youth in community service, particularly projects that promote energy efficiency and environmental improvement. Earl spearheaded a unique service project that engages individuals in environmental stewardship at Baltimore Civic Works, transforming neglected urban spaces and lots into community gardens and shared spaces. He also created Project Lightbulb, a program that sends AmeriCorps teams to low-income Baltimore City communities to provide residents with free supplies and information that they will need to increase home energy efficiency, helping families save an average of 53 kWh per home (approximately $90 each year).
- Grace Hill Settlement House AmeriCorps Ranger Project: Since 1994, Grace Hill AmeriCorps has led the development and environmental restoration of the Riverfront Trail, St. Louis premier 12-mile bike and greenway. The project has also strengthened impoverished North City riverside communities, reinforced community responsibility, and provided educational and financial opportunities to its residents. Over the past two years, Rangers led 627 volunteers to plant over 10,000 wildflowers and grasses and spread switchgrass seed over 15 acres along the Mississippi. Rangers have also partnered with companies to reduce pollution in a community area with the highest asthma rates in the country.
- Juliana Chosana Ko: Suicides, fueled by poverty, substance abuse, and despair, are a growing concern in Indian Country. Between 2009 and 2010, 15 suicides were reported on the Eastern Navajo Nation. Juliana Ko, now an AmeriCorps alum who spent two years as a Teach For America math teacher at Thoreau Middle School on the edge of the Navajo Reservation, decided to do something about it. After completing her two-year service commitment, Juliana founded the Thoreau Community Center as a safe place for students to go after school. The center now provides fitness, dance, and cooking classes; tutors to help students with their homework; a small computer lab; and weekly movie nights as well as services for adult community members. Thanks to Juliana Ko, the Thoreau Community Center has become an essential resource for the community, and has helped improve the lives of many at-risk students.
Veterans and Military Families:
- RSVP VFW Post 1739: Aided by Auxiliary member Grace Moon, Commander Daniel W. Joergensen, Howard Bateman, Daniel Buentgen, and Robert Simonds are Vietnam Veterans and active volunteers with RSVP who have dedicated their retirement years to helping less fortunate veterans and active service members. With many active duty personnel returning from overseas missions, the RSVP volunteers help the returning service men and women adjust back to civilian life by providing access to employment and housing resources. The group of RSVP volunteers also provides vital resources to veterans, supplying them with essential personal supplies and transportation to doctor appointments.