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COMCorps Members Celebrate National AmeriCorps Week
 

By Caroline Dreyer

(ATHENS, Ohio – March 27, 2103)
Once a year, AmeriCorps members around the country come together to salute other members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps community partners and celebrate the impact of AmeriCorps on both the communities and on the lives of those who serve.

The 21 AmeriCorps members completing their year of service with OU-HCOM’s COMCorps, and the 14 AmeriCorps members serving with Rural Action’s Ohio Stream Restore Corps (OSRC), celebrated AmeriCorps Week by taking part in a retreat on March 15 and 16 at the Vinton County Experimental Forest in Vinton County, Ohio, to learn, network and celebrate.

This year’s theme, “AmeriCorps Works,” reflects the positive impact that AmeriCorps has on the recipients of service, the people who serve, the community and the nation.

Many AmeriCorps members move on to pursue careers in the non-profit sector, so grant writing was a special focus of the first day of the retreat. A group of experienced grant writers including Michelle Decker, executive director of Rural Action; Louise DiLullo, director of Live Healthy Appalachia; Kathy Trace, director of OU-HCOM Community Health Programs; Susan Urano, executive director of the Athens Foundation; and Gary Goosman, senior program director for the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, were all on hand to help members improve their grant writing skills and share stories of their successes and failures in raising funds for their organizations.

“It was great to see the members start the weekend by putting on their thinking caps and diving deep in to the mysterious worlds of grants,” said COMCorps Director Lauren Borovicka. “The collective knowledge of the guest speakers, supervisors and AmeriCorps members was vast and truly demonstrated the power of AmeriCorps.”

The first day ended with members convening around the campfire to enjoy s’mores and hot dogs while Nancy Schell, former COMCorps director, facilitated a “Justice Talking” session. Despite cold temperatures, some members decided to camp outside in tents.

On Saturday, members had the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning activities, such as the healthy cooking demonstration, where members were encouraged to sample banana-kale smoothies and homemade hummus, the watershed and ecosystem workshop, facilitated by Amy Mackey of Raccoon Creek Watershed, and a hike through the forest with Rural Action’s environmental education coordinator, Joe Brehm.

"I enjoyed the expertise swapping between Rural Action and COMCorps members,” said Lyndsay Coleman, a COMCorps member.  “A highlight for me was the chance to show off our skills and learn from each other, notably about land management, cerulean warblers and the elusive salamander. The bonus was that all of this occurred away from it all, in the woods, in a span of a fantastic 36 hours."

To keep in alignment with Rural Action’s mission of conserving natural resources, the retreat was a “Zero Waste Weekend.” In order for an event to be considered zero waste, 90 percent of waste had to be diverted. To achieve this, members were asked to bring their own plates and silverware, and leftover food was composted.

Rural Action AmeriCorps Director Candi Withem believes that it was beneficial to have COMCorps and Rural Action come together for the retreat. “It was great to see both COMCorps and OSRC members getting to know one another and possibly collaborate for future activities. I think this event will have a lasting positive effect on both programs,” she said.

Borovicka was also pleased with the weekend. “The AmeriCorps programs consider the retreat to be a huge success. We were so happy that members, supervisors and alumni all came out to celebrate, collaborate and cross-educate. We hope to make the retreat a yearly event,” she said. “We are especially thankful to the U.S. Forest Service for allowing us to play on the beautiful property and learn about the important ecosystem.”

About COMCorps
COMCorps is an AmeriCorps program housed in the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Community Health Programs. COMCorps’ mission is to provide health education and access to health care and health screenings for children and families in Athens County.

COMCorps members serve an 11-month term packed with 1,700 hours of life-changing experience serving others. COMCorps service members are active in schools and agencies as they deliver health-related programs and implement health-related projects. Many of our COMCorps participants go on to pursue careers in medicine and health care.

COMCorps is supported by ServeOhio (www.serveohio.org), the state's commission on service and volunteerism, and local community partners.

About Rural Action’s Ohio Stream Restore Corps (OSRC)
OSRC is an AmeriCorps program facilitated through Rural Action, an organization whose mission is to foster social, economic and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio.

OSRC AmeriCorps members serve in the following program areas: Monday Creek Restoration Project, Sunday Creek Watershed Group, Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership, Leading Creek Improvement Committee, Raccoon Creek Partnership, Mud Run Stream Keepers, Environmental Education, Zero Waste Initiative and Buckeye Trails Association.

OSRC members serve a term of 12 months and accumulate a total of 1,700 hours.

AmeriCorps Fast Facts:

·         800,000: Number of individuals who have served as AmeriCorps members since 1994.

·         1 Billion: Total number of hours served by AmeriCorps members.

·         $2.4 Billion: Total amount of Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards earned by AmeriCorps members.

·         4 Million: Number of community volunteers managed or mobilized by AmeriCorps members in 2012.

·         15,000: Number of nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations that AmeriCorps members serve with.

·         $480 Million: Value of non-CNCS cash and in-kind donations leveraged by AmeriCorps programs in 2010

 
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Last updated: 04/30/2013