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AmeriCorps Members Work Hard For Oceana

In March Oceana County joined thousands of Americans across the country to celebrate the valuable contributions of the AmeriCorps members who pledge to “get things done” for America as part of the annual AmeriCorps Week. The weeklong AmeriCorps Week celebration also honors the contributions and support of thousands of local organizations that make AmeriCorps programs possible.

Across Michigan there are 9,000 Americorps members serving at over 1,700 local service sites.  In 2019, four AmeriCorps members are serving communities across Oceana County, with two members hosted at the Foundation.

Danielle Siegel is in her second term at the Community Foundation for Oceana County, splitting her time serving the Oceana College Access Network and the Foundation’s Read early. Read often. (RERO) Initiative.  RERO has grown by leaps and bounds under Siegel’s leadership, with over 50 partners distributing nearly 5,000 free children’s books in 2018.  The focus of Danielle’s work with Oceana CAN! has seen success through the expansion of small group mentoring and workplace exposure programs for area students.  A native of Shelby, Grand Valley State University graduate, and returned Peace Corps volunteer, Danielle joined Americorps VISTA to give back to the neighborhoods that she calls home.

Heather Douglas was pleased to join the Community Foundation team and Oceana community in January.  Heather is a brand new resident, having moved here from Livonia to begin her Americorps VISTA service year.  Her main focus will be capacity building in communications and technology.   Since coming on board she has enjoyed getting to know current donors, board members, and the community at large.  Heather expressed that she is “super excited to be a part of the Foundation and can’t wait to witness firsthand and be a part of the impact the organization has on the community”.

“We are proud to be part of AmeriCorps and grateful for the AmeriCorps members who are getting things done for Oceana,” said Tammy Carey, executive director of the Community Foundation for Oceana County.  “AmeriCorps members have made a significant impact on our ability to meet so many local needs, and AmeriCorps Week is a perfect opportunity to recognize their great work.”

Jake Verrips is the local college advisor serving Shelby and Hart High Schools.  He hails from Ontario, Canada, but has lived in Michigan for the past 5 years, graduating from Calvin College with a degree in social work.  He worked in a youth shelter for a year before being recruited by a friend to join AdviseMI.

AdviseMI, a program of Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) aims to increase the number of high school students who enter and complete postsecondary education.   Jake states he “was immediately drawn by the opportunity to continue working with youth, and help them decide what lies after high school. It is a privilege to work in these schools and communities, and I hope to create an environment where my students are college-ready and willing to ask as many questions as necessary to get to where they want to go.”

Rachel Kindinger is an Americorps VISTA member in her second year serving at Hart Mainstreet.  The mission of the Hart Main Street Program is to work with both the public and private sectors to restore the vitality once common in the downtown district by enhancing our community identity and heritage, fostering a center of activity, and ensuring economic stability through concentrated efforts in organization, promotion, design and business development.

A growing body of research shows that service has an effect on more than just the communities served, but also on the members themselves. AmeriCorps alumni credit their year(s) of service for developing leadership skills that bridges divides, solves problems, and opens doors to opportunities that advance their careers and education.

To join the celebration, follow AmeriCorps on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and join the conversation by sharing pictures and stories on Twitter, using #MadeinAmeriCorps.