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Accomplishment Spotlight: AmeriCorps Members Promote Operation Homefront’s Troop Support Programs February 24, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Accomplishment Spotlight.
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Operation Homefront’s (OH) AmeriCorps members have proven themselves critical to their organization by making its programs more visible to the organization’s target population — servicemembers and families in need.

Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance and practical and morale support for troops, their families and wounded warriors when they return home. OH sponsors nine AmeriCorps members to organize, promote and deliver OH programs and upgrade the aspects of the organization’s operations.

Mike Heymsfield, AmeriCorps communications specialist, and Elizabeth Crumley, AmeriCorps special projects coordinator are only two examples of the great work being done.

Among Mike’s activities, he provided coverage and support to Team Operation Homefront, a group of volunteers that raises funds for OH programs, when the team participated in the prestigious annual Marine Corps Marathon in October. The morning of the race, Mike helped OH staff setup an area where team members could rest at the conclusion of the marathon. During the event itself, Mike’s assignment was to take pictures of Team Operation Homefront runners during the marathon, which the organization could use in future publicity of the organization and its programs. After photographing the event, Mike returned to the tent to chat with members of Team Operation Homefront and thanked them for their volunteer service.

As for Elizabeth, she had her hands in many OH special events during her service term. Most recently, Elizabeth coordinated the distribution of free “sneak-peek” movie tickets for the movie, “Act of Valor,” to 150 servicemembers and new veterans over Super Bowl weekend.

“Super Bowl weekend provided more than just football to our nation’s bravest,” said Elizabeth.
The screenings were held in OH’s business locations at San Antonio, Texas and Washington, D.C. metro area, and also at the Super Bowl’s 2012 host city, Indianapolis, Ind. OH used this morale-building screening opportunity to introduce troops and veterans using the tickets to OH’s vast array of programs.

Elizabeth and Mike’s member experiences have been positive without question. As proof, Mike has chosen to serve a second AmeriCorps term at Operation Homefront and Liz has accepted a full-time position with the organization now that her service term has concluded. Thank you, Liz and Mike, for continuing to support the military community!

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Member Spotlight: Meet Lupi Rodriguez, Still Serving Veterans AmeriCorps VISTA Member February 24, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Member Spotlight.
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Lupi Rodriguez is an AmeriCorps VISTA member assigned to Still Serving Veterans through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps. In her assignment as an outreach specialist, Lupi represents the organization at numerous community events to introduce veterans to SSV’s services. Prior to joining the Call to Service Corps, Lupi held positions as a quality engineer and ISO quality assurance auditor with Sanmina-SCI. Through the American Red Cross, she has volunteered as a first aid assistant at Challenger Elementary first aid clinic. She is a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Ladies Auxiliary #3263 in Huntsville, Ala. Lupi holds a degree from Central Texas College. She is a sister-in-law to four Army veterans.

What motivated you to serve in the AmeriCorps program?
I took the oath as an AmeriCorps VISTA member very seriously and welcomed the opportunity to work with and help veterans who had given so much to protect my rights and freedom.

What motivated you to choose your sponsor organization?
SSV is a nonprofit organization in the northern Alabama region that empowers veterans and their families to reintegrate into the workforce and communities through new career development and job placement. Also, SSV provides assistance to veterans with obtaining VA and other benefits and services. SSV’s goals include optimizing veterans’ post-military career opportunities, providing veterans a holistic support services approach to job training, education, career transition and counseling, referring veterans to other organizations and ensuring veteran clients receive all the benefits and services they have earned.

About what accomplishment from your year of service are you most proud?
Some of the outreach activities I have conducted this year, to bring the services of Still Serving Veterans to the attention of veterans in our area were: participation in the Huntsville community’s stitching the traveling U.S. flag, which now hangs in the National 9/11 Museum in New York; assisting with the celebration of returning soldiers during Wounded Warrior Week; representing SSV at the Huntsville community’s Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony; and planning a Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Day with Vietnam Veterans of America to be held March 29. Each of these outreach events allows me to get the word out to the military community in our area about the incredible work that SSV does for our veterans.

What are your plans after your AmeriCorps service year?
My future plan is to hopefully be fully employed by Still Serving Veterans and continue working with our heroes supporting them with the opportunities to be all they can be.

Member Spotlight: Meet Rob Rogers, American Red Cross AmeriCorps VISTA Member February 24, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Member Spotlight.
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Rob Rogers is an AmeriCorps VISTA member assigned through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps to the Community Blueprint Network at the American Red Cross. In his assignment as a Community Blueprint coordinator, Rob is responsible for the development and implementation of topical content, support tools, project infrastructure and community decision-making structures and processes to execute the Community Blueprint in the areas of education and volunteerism. Prior to joining the Call to Service Corps, Rob held positions in restoration with All-Clean Restoration. Rob holds a master’s degree in international affairs and administration from Missouri State University. Rob is a veteran of the United States Army.

What motivated you to serve as an AmeriCorps member?
The opportunity to work with the military community motivated me to volunteer for AmeriCorps VISTA. I grew up on base, and I have always felt a connection to those who choose to put the needs of their community before their own desires.

In my service year, I have been rewarded by meeting Jake Wood, Victoria Pridemore and Dani Molina. These veterans have sacrificed as much as any other for their country and upon their return home they immediately set out to help their communities. After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Victoria joined AmeriCorps VISTA and currently volunteers with the Veterans Innovation Center. Jake Wood is one of the founders of Team Rubicon. Dani Molina serves with Student Veterans of America and is researching veterans in higher education at UCLA. These people really are the next greatest generation.

I have also spent my year surrounded by the men and women of the American Red Cross’s Service to the Armed Forces Branch. I have been continuously impressed by their discipline, dedication, competence and compassion.

What motivated you to choose your sponsor organization?
When my dad went away for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the American Red Cross was there. I learned first aid, CPR and how to swim from Red Cross volunteers. Later, I used these skills for my first after-school-job as a lifeguard. There were two severe ice storms in the town where I went to college and one time the entire region was declared a disaster area. A whole city was deathly quiet when I went outside, except for relief trucks with the red cross on the side. Whenever you see footage of people in trouble on the news, a Red Cross volunteer always seems to walk past the camera.

What accomplishment from your year of service are you most proud?
I am most proud of contributing what I learned about theatre and catharsis and transferring that knowledge into a promising practice within the Community Blueprint Network. Using the Greek tragedies, which were written for and by combat veterans, helps America’s fighting men and women realize that their challenges are as old as civilization itself. That knowledge will hopefully fill them with the same confidence they enjoyed while in uniform. When this new promising practice is implemented in communities across the country, it will provide a new way for civilians to interact with the veteran community — one that doesn’t include treating veterans as victims. I hope that replication of this promising practice will help at least a few veterans to surmount their feelings and experiences and move forward in life.

What are your plans after your AmeriCorps service year?
When I finish my AmeriCorps service year, I hope to continue to support the defense community. This is a group of men and women who give of themselves to provide the globe with security and relief and I am proud to associate with them.

February Volunteer Tips: Are you using social media effectively? February 24, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Volunteering News to Use.
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By Dru Secrest

Eighty percent of Americans use social media, with Facebook being the most popular, according to MarketingSavant. Facebook has become more than just a way to connect with friends—more organizations are using the site to recruit and retain their volunteers.

If your organization is considering using Facebook or even if they already do, Chris Bernard from Idealware offers some quick tips for using the site effectively to recruit volunteers.

1. Make sure your Facebook page has your organization’s website and contact information readily available. Be prepared to be contacted and make sure to respond in a timely manner.
2. Find out if the age group you want to reach is even using Facebook. Facebook attracts a younger group of users—50 or less.
3. Strategize the types of posts you think will engage volunteers.
a. Post photos, videos or recaps of past events. This will not only help recruit, but will also give recognition to the people in the pictures who are volunteering.
b. Use posts that encourage people to comment, but be sure to monitor and respond in a timely manner, if questions arise.
4. Post often enough to keep people engaged, but not so often they feel overwhelmed.
5. Post about a variety of volunteering opportunities. If you recruit for the exact same thing time and time again, you will get the same people. This runs the risk of waning enthusiasm.
6. Encourage your volunteers to “Like” your page and share it with others. This will help to build a community through Facebook.

Call to Service Corps Announcements February 24, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Announcements.
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Call to Service Corps AmeriCorps National Component Earns Good Marks!

The American Legion Auxiliary is pleased to report receiving positive feedback from the Corporation for National and Community Service on the first year of its AmeriCorps National project. Feedback was provided in response to ALA’s annual grantee progress report submission to CNCS. Among the strengths of our project that were cited:

• C2SC AmeriCorps National Members engaged in activities that built stronger information technology and human resources departments at host organizations, increased community awareness of service location programs and services, built the volunteer management capability of host organizations and made host organization programs more efficient or effective.
• The project recruited 305 volunteers, which is a significantly high number, especially given the relatively small size of the program.
• The project received 220 applications for available slots, which reflects a high applicant to slot ratio (15:1).

ALA congratulates our AmeriCorps National members who served in 2010-2011, and whose efforts led to the successes cited by the Corporation in its grantee feedback report.

Recruitment Period Open for Call to Service Corps Assignments
ALA and various organizations participating in the ALA Call to Service Corps Consortium are currently recruiting for 6 AmeriCorps National members, to start service as soon as March 2012, and 14 AmeriCorps VISTA members to start in April 2012. Organizations seeking AmeriCorps members are: National Military Family Association, Operation Homefront, Ride 2 Recovery and USA Cares. Organizations seeking AmeriCorps VISTA members are American Legion Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota, Blue Star Families, Community Blueprint Valdosta, HandsOn Kansas State, Military Officers Association of America, Military Spouse Corporate Career Network, The Mission Continues and Veterans Innovation Center.

Please encourage individuals interested in a national service opportunity to apply to a Call to Service Corps position. Direct them to the service opportunity listing section of www.AmeriCorps.gov and enter “Call to Service Corps” as a topic term in the advanced search feature.

ALA Begins to Plan its 2012-2013 VISTA Application
The American Legion Auxiliary is beginning to prepare its continuation application to the AmeriCorps VISTA program. The continuation period will cover VISTA member assignments made to ALA between May 2012 and April 2013. ALA will reach out to current Call to Service Corps consortium members to determine their future AmeriCorps VISTA needs.

Military, veteran and civilian organizations not currently part of the consortium, but wishing to consider participating in the Consortium in 2012-2013, are encouraged to express interest in participation to project director Bob Reeg at rreeg@alaforveterans.org. Please correspond by March 16, 2012.