Philadelphia - The Corporation for National and Community Service honored 18 outstanding national service participants from across the country at the 2007 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. The honorees received Spirit of Service awards in recognition of their outstanding service and contributions to their communities.
"These individuals have gone above and beyond the call to serve their nation," said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation, a co-sponsor of the annual conference along with the Points of Light Foundation. "Not only do they give their own time and talents, but they mobilize others in their communities to tackle some of America’s toughest social problems.”
Eisner added, “We take great pride in our vital role in supporting America's voluntary sector. Our programs, with the help of individuals like our Spirit of Service Award winners, work hand in glove with the volunteer world to deepen the ability of the more than 61 million Americans who volunteer each year to make a real difference in their communities."
The awards are being presented at the three-day national conference, which brings together more than 3,000 leaders of volunteer and national service sectors from across the nation and the world.
Participants from each of the Corporation's three programs—Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America—were honored along with Timberland, which received the Corporate Spirit of Service award for its outstanding support of national service and volunteering.
|RSVP volunteer Marianne Cullers of Manhattan, KS, founded the Helping Hands program as a volunteer with the RSVP of Flint Hills. Initially, she provided homework assistance and skills improvement to at-risk youth once a week for two hours at the Douglass Center. Soon the word was out and more children began coming to the Center. Cullers began recruiting community volunteers and the Hand to Hand Program was born. Since 1996, the Hand to Hand Program has tutored more than 600 children. Teachers reported that 95% of the students assisted showed progress in reading, math, and attitude toward learning.|
|Senior Companion Fausta Sawal of Seattle, WA was recognized for her accomplishments as a volunteer with the Volunteers of America Senior Companion Program where she helps dozens of senior citizens and disabled adults live longer, happier, and more independent lives in their own homes. She assists the program in other ways including serving as president of the Senior Companion Program Advisory Council and as a leader of her group of Filipino Senior Companions. She also volunteers with other community service agencies in Seattle’s Asian community and has been recognized for her commitment to service.|
|Foster Grandparent Frances Livingston of Shreveport, LA, draws on her experience as a former teacher while serving with the Caddo Council on Aging Foster Grandparent program. Livingston assists the children with their math and reading skills. The students assigned to her have shown an increase in their confidence, completion of homework, improved behavior, and proficiency in reading skills, enabling them to pass the LEAP and IOWA Tests.|
|Crystal Utley of Jackson, MS, moved back to her native state after Hurricane Katrina to put her legal skills to work on behalf of Mississippians in need. As an AmeriCorps member with Equal Justice Works, she is now in her second term as an attorney assigned to the Mississippi Center for Justice. She manages pro bono opportunities for lawyers and law students and has recruited and trained more than 65 private attorneys who volunteer their time to serve more than 500 Hurricane Katrina survivors. Personally, she has worked with more than 30 organizations nationwide and has conducted 20 legal clinics around Mississippi in the past year.|
|Winny vanGils of St. George, UT, served with the Washington County Human Services Council AmeriCorps*VISTA project where she focused on changing the living conditions for the disenfranchised and poor in her community. In her assignment at the Erin Kimball Foundation, which provided services to children and women who have experienced domestic violence, she recruited dozens of community volunteers who put on special fund-raising events to raise additional resources for the program. vanGils facilitated the donation of land that she helped to transform into a community garden where she teaches gardening. Families served by the Foundation, students from local schools, and adults with developmental disabilities grow a variety of vegetables and donate the surplus to the Foundation.|
|Based at the McClellan, CA, campus of AmeriCorps*NCCC, the 10 members of Team Red 4 traveled to Pascagoula, MS, for their first assignment, assisting with hurricane relief. The Team, with Floyd Gummersall leading Daniel Alberti, Garrett Duffy, Beth Heithoff, Lindsay Kappeler, Veronica Kirin, Tara Perkins, Genevieve Rosengren, Daniel Ulrich, and Tiffany Zapico, completed four weeks of training to start their term of service in October 2006. In the seven weeks they spent in Pascagoula, working with Operation Jackson County and Operation TLC, they organized Pascagoula Service Blitz. Team members secured materials for the day of service and recruited more than 40 community volunteers who contributed more than 350 hours and refurbished the exteriors and interiors of five homes, mucked out a local museum, and helped organize the library in preparation for its re-opening. Red 4 left behind a team of 45 dedicated volunteers to continue the work they began.|
Learn and Serve America
|ervice-learning student Joey Bowman of Prescott Valley, AZ, is president of Prescott Valley Charter School (PVCS) Youth Chamber of Commerce, a service-learning club. The club members led by Joey increased the Yavapai Food Desire to Feed the Hungry Food Drive from an annual event to 10 monthly drives. Last year, more than 1,600 food items were collected in 10 days in the school. Bowman chaired the Special Olympics’ Village activities, the PVCS Career Faire, and co-chaired Teaching Volunteerism to Kids, leading Youth Chamber members as they presented classes in service-learning to fourth graders. The Youth Chamber evaluated the project developed by the young students and hosted an awards ceremony and party.|
|Service-learning teacher Kari Simon-Pieters shows her science students what chemistry has to do with the real world by involving them in community environmental projects. Her “Chemistry and in the Community” class joined the Stoney Creek Watershed Project to test water quality, report data to Michigan State University and watershed landowners, and post the data on a website. To reduce erosion and block unwanted nutrients from the creek, students created a buffer strip by planting more than 50 trees. Simon-Pieters reports that her students typically increase their performance by as much as two letter grades during this unit. Her other student-driven projects include an information campaign for the Nike Reuse-a-Shoe program. |
|Gail Robinson has run the service-learning program established by the American Association of Community Colleges for 13 years, during which the percentage of community colleges with service-learning programs has doubled. Under her leadership, AACC’s Learn and Serve Horizons program has documented impressive results: 23,000 students at 40 Horizons colleges performed 347,000 hours of direct community service, working with 1,900 faculty, 4,800 agencies and schools, and more than 500,000 individuals.|
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov.