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November 16, 2014
by: Tad Phippen Wente

Former AmeriCorps volunteer shares experiences

“Anything the country needs” is how Katie Amundsen described the purpose of AmeriCorps to IDEAS Academy juniors and interested seniors November 4. She shared her experiences as part of the College Readiness Program. AmeriCorps provides community service and is ideal for students wanting to “have an adventure” before entering college, Amundsen said.

AmeriCorps offers three paths, or programs, focused on fighting poverty and illiteracy, and disaster relief, according to Amundsen. One path involves recruiting, training and facilitating volunteers for AmeriCorps. This is a 1 year commitment. Another is the NCCC, or National Civilian Community Corps, which includes the FEMA Corps for disaster relief. This branch of AmeriCorps is all about doing. It provides public service for communities, especially those in need of rebuilding in structural and humanitarian ways. A third path, which Amundsen chose, is Vista, which focuses on fighting poverty and illiteracy. 

AmeriCorps volunteers are given a living stipend and “paid at the poverty rate of the community they serve,” according to Amundsen. Volunteers work alongside community members as equals, she said, and it would not be appropriate to pay them more. The living allowance is about $4,000 and volunteers live with team members in provided housing. AmeriCorps has both state and national teams. Applicants may designate where they would like to work. 

Amundsen, who is 21 and a senior at Lakeland College, worked in AmeriCorps’ Summer Associate Program for 10 weeks. She was hired by the Mead Public Library to create and implement an Outreach for the Summer Reading Program for 4 to 7-year-olds. She developed the curriculum and traveled to different schools during the Recreation Department’s summer park program for”Library Day.” Through story time and a related craft activity, she helped build children’s literacy through a love of books. As a writing major interested in language arts education, her experience was a perfect fit. 

“You can play to your passions,” she said about AmeriCorps. “You can do what you want to do.”

Application and acceptance to an AmeriCorps program is one of the options for IDEAS Academy seniors as we seek to attain 100% acceptance to post-secondary education for our graduates.

Visit the AmeriCorps site for more information about how you can be involved.

—Tad Phippen Wente, College Readiness Coordinator11.16.14

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