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AmeriCorps VISTA Ronnie Miley Leads the Way with Volunteer Macon’s Stand Down/Homefront Event October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Accomplishment Spotlight.
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On September 7, 2012, Volunteer Macon’s Middle Georgia Stand Down/Homefront event was held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9709 in Macon, Ga. Ronnie Miley, an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with Volunteer Macon through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps, initiated and helped plan the event. The stand down served to familiarize area veterans with local services and reaffirm the community’s commitment to its military-connected members.

The stand down was held in a new location this year, far from downtown Macon. Many were concerned that veteran attendance would suffer as a result. Miley responded by securing vouchers for free public transportation to and from the event for all veterans who wished to attend.

Miley also played a significant role in ensuring the attendance of local service providers, such as health care personnel who offered free eye and dental exams, as well as blood pressure and diabetes screenings. Barbers were available to provide free haircuts. Duffel bags containing clothing, shoes, sleeping bags and toiletries were provided to the more than 300 homeless veterans in attendance. Other participants included representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, who were available to help veterans craft and refine their resumes, and members of the Georgia Legal Services Program, who offered general assistance with VA claims and referred veterans to local attorneys. Volunteer Macon staff were also available to offer advice about emergency preparedness to veterans in need.

Public officials in attendance included Tracey Thornton, Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop; County Commissioner Bert Bivens; City Councilman Lonnie Miley; and Georgia State Senator James Beverly.

Eric Bryson, an AmeriCorps VISTA assigned to Volunteer Macon — though not through the ALA Call to Service Corps  — assisted Miley in planning and executing the stand down.

Gigi Rolfes, Executive Director of Volunteer Macon, was enthusiastic about the results.

“It was terrific…and our first venture into this type of event,” Rolfes said. “[Miley’s and Bryson’s] work was amazing and we are very proud.”

Miley served twenty years in the United States Army prior to his VISTA term. Also, he is the commander of Macon’s Disabled American Veterans (DAV) post. He was similarly pleased with the experience.

“[The event] was near and dear to my heart,” he said.  “It was a very successful event; but more than that, it really let me be a part of helping veterans.”

Volunteer Macon is a member of the Community Blueprint, a nationally developed set of practices and tools to assist communities in serving their veterans, servicemembers and military families. The Blueprint launched nationally on October 9.

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United Way – King County and Terrence Cabiao Bring Veterans Back to Work with the Veteran Employment Project October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Accomplishment Spotlight.
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United Way of King County (UWKC), a Community Blueprint site and the sponsoring organization of American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps member Terrence Cabiao, has recently launched its Veteran Employment Project. As part of UWKC’s Campaign to End Chronic Homelessness, the Veteran Employment Project will address long-term homelessness by combining two national best-practices: supported employment and supportive housing. Recognizing that a combination of these programs will help its clients achieve better housing and employment outcomes, UWKC decided to kick of the effort with a substantial investment of $250,000. Over the next two years, United Way will team up with three highly qualified community based agencies to connect over 200 chronically homeless veterans with job training and employment services.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA assigned to UWKC, Cabiao helped his organization develop the knowledge and ground-level support needed to successfully launch the Veteran Employment Project. He met with more than a dozen community-based organizations, local funders and VA staff members to explain the initiative and secure their support. Also, he wrote the request for qualification for funding for the project. As he did so, he discovered the profound importance employment has to veterans and military families: it results in increased spending power, provides a clear pathway to independence, and is an evidence-based practice for recovery. As a direct result of his efforts, over ten local agencies applied for the funding. Cabiao also participated in the selection committee that awarded funds to the chosen applicants.

One part of the proposal came to fruition on October 2, when UWKC held its first event for the Veteran Employment Project. Cabiao worked to ensure that attendance was high by reaching out to and inviting many local employers, particularly small businesses, businesses associations, and members of the local Chamber of Commerce. His diligence was amply rewarded; over a dozen employers attended, where they were able to ask questions and learn from experts about supported employment programs. Many in attendance were concerned about perceived challenges involved in hiring from the homeless veteran population, fearing issues such as behavioral health, substance abuse and physical disability. Their concerns were successfully assuaged by the experts in attendance.

The event was highly successful by any measure, and marks a strong beginning of UWKC’s advocacy for homeless veterans in the King County area. Commenting on the event, Cabiao said, “It was a wonderful conversation all around the table. It was impressive to see the flow of business cards being exchanged at the end of the event and even witness one of the employers say they would like to hire veterans now, and what are my next steps.”

IMPACT: Your AmeriCorps Story in Action October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Volunteering News to Use.
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The AmeriCorps story is all about impact. Members contribute their time, skills and energy to solve some of our nation’s most difficult problems – in the case of the ALA Call to Service Corps, the many challenges facing veterans and military families. It is important to tell the world about our work resolving these challenges, but many are unsure how to do so effectively. The following advice, provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, should get you thinking: Of course, these suggestions apply to anyone with responsibility for communicating the impact of their organization’s work or their individual work.

I – Identify needs and targets

What are the needs and goals of your program? With whom should you engage to share your story that will help to advance your program goals or address program needs?

M – Make a plan

Once you have decided who should hear the story, you must decide when, where and how to tell it. Try to think of innovate ways to share your story.

P – Promote your work

You have something great planned. Share your plans with the community.

A – Act

Get out there and share your story!

C – Consider next steps

How might you engage those who have heard the story in ways that will further the goals of your program?

T – Tell the world

You are now accomplished at telling the story; continue to share it in new ways with everyone you meet.

Upcoming Days of Service October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Volunteering News to Use.
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October 27, 2012: Make a Difference Day

Make a Difference Day, a joint initiative of USA Weekend Magazine and Points of Light, will be held this year on October 27. Make a Difference Day is the single largest national celebration of community service.

Participants register projects on the Make a Difference Day website, share ideas with others across the globe, and work to make the world a better place. Make a Difference Day provides online toolkits to assist you in the planning and development of your project, marketing tools to help you raise awareness, and tools to assist service project sponsors in recruiting volunteers within your local community.

Interested individuals should visit http://daytabank.handsonnetwork.org/to register and share project ideas with millions of others participating in Make a Difference Day. Those that do so will be eligible for:

  • One of 10 $10,000 grants from Newman’s Own, a foundation dedicated to transforming lives and nourishing the common good.
  •  An all-expenses paid trip to the next Make a Difference Day Awards Ceremony, to be held April 2013.

Meet Andrew Talbot – AmeriCorps VISTA Leader at American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Member Spotlight.
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Andrew Talbot is an AmeriCorps VISTA team leader assigned to American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps. In his current assignment, Andrew is responsible for developing an operations guide for American Legion Auxiliary state chapters. He also served for twelve months as the project’s “right hand man” on major project growth areas, including development of the ALA Call to Service Corps eNews, a learning and development series for AmeriCorps members, and management of monthly member progress reporting. Prior to joining the ALA Call to Service Corps, Andrew held an AmeriCorps VISTA position with the River Region Court Appointed State Advocates (CASA) in Louisville, Ky. Andrew has also worked with several law firms in the Indianapolis area and has volunteered with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Center. Andrew holds a Juris Doctorate from the Western New England College School of Law.

 

1. What motivated you to serve as an AmeriCorps member?

I had several reasons for wanting to join AmeriCorps. I have always had a passion for helping others, and I think I have a strong skill set to contribute to the community. Especially now, with so many people suffering as a result of the poor economy, I think it is vital that people step up to provide for those in need. I wanted to work in a capacity where I felt I was improving the lives of others and encouraging people to volunteer.

2. What motivated you to choose your sponsor organization?

The location. I also thought my skills lined up well with the requirements of the position.

3. About what accomplishment from your year of service are you most proud?

I worked on several different projects, such as a Call to Service Corps Handbook and the American Legion Auxiliary Department Operational Guide, that will continue to be used by the my sponsor site long after I have left service.

4. What are your future plans after your AmeriCorps service year?

I am going to work for the Customs and Immigration Service within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.