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Welcome to the ALA Call to Service Corps eNews January 27, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in News.
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The American Legion Auxiliary is pleased to present the ALA Call to Service Corps eNews, a regular newsletter featuring the accomplishments and impact of our Call to Service Corps.

The ALA Call to Service Corps annually enlists a group of talented and dedicated full-time AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members to build the capacity of nonprofit military, veteran and civilian organizations, to increase their resources and services to those who are serving and have served our great nation. Currently, over 20 organizations receive AmeriCorps and VISTA members through the Call to Service Corps.

The Call to Service Corps is supported generously by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and other national service programs. Additional information about CNCS may be found at www.nationalservice.gov.

Regular contributors to the ALA Call to Service Corps eNews include:

Bob Reeg, ALA Call to Service Corps Project Director
Andrew Talbot, VISTA Team Leader, American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters
Nathan Brown, Communications VISTA Member, Auxiliary National Headquarters
Dru Secrest, Volunteer Mobilization Specialist VISTA Member, Auxiliary National Headquarters

Feel free to forward this publication to others in your organization and networks that may find it of interest. If you have suggestions for improving this publication, feel free to drop us a line at rreeg@alaforveterans.org.

If you have received this newsletter indirectly by a forward from a colleague and wish to subscribe directly, please send a request to rreeg@alaforveterans.org. Also, if you wish to be removed from the subscription list, request removal to rreeg@alaforveterans.org.

We hope you find the ALA Call to Service Corps eNews informative and helpful to your work.

United We Serve!

Bob Reeg, Director, ALA Call to Service Corps

Accomplishment Spotlight: Blue Star Families VISTA Member Promotes Volunteering at NASCAR Event January 27, 2012

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Linda Monastra, an ALA Call to Service Corps VISTA member assigned to Blue Star Families, assisted her sponsor organization in being represented at a Joining Forces Initiative event at the NASCAR Championship Weekend at Miami Speedway in late November 2011. Joining Forces is first lady Michelle Obama’s national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and supports they have earned. Both Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden attended and spoke at the NASCAR event.

At the NASCAR event, volunteers came out and pledged hours of community service in honor of military servicemembers and veterans through the Operation Honor Card program. Operation Honor Card is a joint program between Blue Star Families, Points of Light, American Red Cross and ServiceNation to collect pledges for community service hours. Blue Star Families helped construct two honor walls, which displayed the honor cards and were a tribute to our servicemembers and veterans. Linda’s roles included coordinating on behalf of Blue Star Families with the NASCAR Foundation liaison and reaching out to Blue Star Families members and volunteers in southern Florida to encourage them to attend the event.

Blue Star Families, formed in 2008, helps support military families and raise awareness of the challenges of military family life. Additional information about Blue Star Families is available at http://www.bluestarfam.org/.

Accomplishment Spotlight: VISTA Member at The Mission Continues Leads Service Projects on Veterans Day. January 27, 2012

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Stephanie Bennett, an ALA Call to Service Corps VISTA member assigned to The Mission Continues, led the organization’s day of service projects in Washington D.C. on Veterans Day 2011. The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for veterans to continue to serve their communities through community service projects. The Washington D.C. projects were among 31 service projects nationwide that The Mission Continues organized in commemoration of Veterans Day. One of TMC’s D.C. service projects was conducted in collaboration with Target. At that project, volunteers cleaned, painted and refurbished areas of Simon Elementary School in the District of Columbia. A second event was organized with Goldman Sachs. For that project, 12 Goldman Sachs and TMC volunteers supported Friendship Place, a homeless program in the District of Columbia. Together, they cleaned and organized three homes for homeless men and women. Stephanie’s roles for these projects included volunteer recruitment, coordination of volunteers on the service sites and follow up with volunteers after the event to gather feedback on their service experience.

Additional information about The Mission Continues is available at http://www.missioncontinues.org.

Member Spotlight: Meet Violeta Arciniega, National Military Family Association AmeriCorps Member January 27, 2012

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Violeta Arciniega is an ALA Call to Service Corps AmeriCorps member assigned to the National Military Family Association. In her assignment, Violeta works with the government relations and volunteer services departments in support of the Association’s members and volunteers through several capacity-building projects. These have included the compilation of resources for use during natural disasters, the consolidation of information about the Association’s Operation Purple Camps and the synthesis of data gathered from various association surveys. Prior to joining the Call to Service Corps, Violeta held positions as a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland, a bookseller at Barnes & Noble and a volunteer docent and gift shop assistant at Tudor Place Historic House. She also served as the president of the University of Maryland’s satirical newspaper. Violeta holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Maryland.

What motivated you to serve as an AmeriCorps member?
Since graduating high school, my plan had always been to take a year off after college to do some kind of service work before applying to law school. I felt I would need the real-world experience before committing to another three years of higher education, which became especially true after some of the difficulties I faced during my undergraduate years. I also felt it would give me more perspective on the field of public service, which was my ultimate career goal.

What motivated you to choose your sponsor organization?
My main motivating factor in choosing to apply to the National Military Family Association was admittedly the location; I didn’t have a lot of experience with the military or military families, but I’ve lived in the Washington D.C. area since childhood.

I applied for several other local opportunities, but the Association was one of the first organizations to get back to me, and I felt that we had a good rapport from the initial phone interview. Later on, I was able to come on site to do an in-person interview, and found the Association’s employees very welcoming, and the mission they worked for a very important one. When the Association offered me the position, I had no doubt that I wanted the assignment and accepted it immediately.

About what accomplishment from your year of service are you most proud?
I am very proud of many of the accomplishments I’ve achieved during my year of service, from digitizing Military Family Life Consultant reports for our Operation Purple Camps, to writing several stories about our program work for Association publications, to analyzing and interpreting survey data, to doing some of the earliest work on the Online Application the Association is putting together. What I am most proud of, however, is how much I’ve been able to learn during my time here. The awareness I have gained about the lives, difficulties, and triumphs of military families is also what I’m most grateful for after my year here.

What are your future plans after your AmeriCorps service year?
My hope is to start law school in the fall. Ultimately, I want to focus on public interest law, and work for either the federal government or a nonprofit organization.

Member Spotlight: Meet Mike Heymsfield, Operation Homefront AmeriCorps Member January 27, 2012

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Mike Heymsfield is an ALA Call to Service Corps AmeriCorps member assigned to Operation Homefront. In his assignment as a public relations specialist, Mike assists in all aspects of program communications including writing press releases, monitoring media coverage and writing media reports. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Frostburg State University.

What motivated you to serve as an AmeriCorps member?
After receiving my degree at Frostburg State University, I needed to make a decision about what I wanted to do after college. While I had limited professional experience in my field, I knew I wanted to do something related and I started to consider a variety of options. Through research, I found that the AmeriCorps program offered a variety of positions in different fields, with organizations that work on important issues. I chose the AmeriCorps program because I found a position that could combine both my passion of communications and my desire to do something that has a positive impact on people’s lives, in this case, military service members.

What motivated you to choose your sponsor organization?
I selected Operation Homefront for my service location because they offered me the opportunity to gain professional experience in communications and to work in a field that I care about. I have friends in the military and it has always been something that interested me, so this was a good way for me to work for a good cause while learning specific practices in my field.

About what accomplishment from your service year are you most proud?
I am most proud of creating and assisting with Operation Homefront program communication material that gets picked up by the media. The material helps my organization get the word out about the programs and services it offers to military servicemembers and families in need. Specifically, I was able to contribute to a press release for an event that included first lady Michelle Obama as a keynote speaker.

What are your future plans after your AmeriCorps service year?
I plan to find a similar position to the one I have at Operation Homefront. I have gained valuable experience working in the communications department in a nonprofit organization, which has made me interested in pursuing a similar line of work where I can continue to grow and narrow in on my interests, while working for an organization that can make a positive impact on people’s lives.