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AmeriCorps' Best Honored With Spirit of Service Awards

Friday, May 16, 2008   (0 Comments)
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May 16, 2008 202/606-6707;

Washington, DC—As part of AmeriCorps Week, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored a handful of outstanding AmeriCorps members, alums, and corporate sponsors with Spirit of Service Awards in recognition of their contributions to national service.

The awardees tackled issues such as disaster relief, homelessness, literacy, and health care, demonstrating the power of service as a solution to tough community problems. The Spirit of Service Awards pay tribute to the most outstanding participants in each of the Corporation's programs as well as corporate or foundation partners that are role models for private sector support of national and community service.

“These individuals and organizations have gone above and beyond the call to serve their nation," said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. "Not only do they give their own time and talents, they mobilize others in their communities to tackle some of America's toughest social problems. The represent America at its best, and we salute them for their selfless service.”

Several of the recipients exemplify the findings of a new AmeriCorps longitudinal study released on Tuesday that indicate AmeriCorps causes long-term positive impacts on the civic attitudes and behaviors of the program's alumni. The study, Still Serving: Measuring the Eight-Year Impact of AmeriCorps on Alumni, found that AmeriCorps alums are significantly more civically engaged and more likely to pursue public service careers in the government and nonprofit sector than their counterparts.

The AmeriCorps members have undertaken a variety of service assignments ranging from disaster preparedness to building low-income housing, while the companies—Pearson, an international media company, and Ben and Jerry's—are receiving Corporate Spirit of Service awards for outstanding support of national service and volunteering.

The award recipients are listed below. Photos are at

AmeriCorps member Antonio Almeida serves with YouthBuild in Fall River, Mass., where he contributes to his community by building or rehabilitating low-income housing while working toward a GED. His great personal accomplishments in the program, his involvement in promoting the program to other young people, and his focus on addressing mental health issues in his community, make him a role model for his peers. He has gone from homelessness and receiving mental health services to becoming an active citizen who addresses issues within his community.

AmeriCorps alum David Karst spent five years as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas County in Florida. Towards the end of his service, he began exploring how he could get HIV testing into the community. He sought funding for his dream of having a community health center and found private foundations willing to support his concept. The Suncoast Resort Project opened in May 2002. Knowing this was a unique concept in the prevention field, he decided to apply for funding to expand the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding the project for five years.

The eight-member team of AmeriCorps VISTAs serving with the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter is helping the region's most vulnerable residents prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies, meeting the great demands of serving a population of 4 million people. Lindsay Dumas, Emerson Chen, Nikki Nichols, Jeff Schurke, Alicia Esterripa, Juan Carlos Pinzon, Francine Williams, and Chester Ng are targeting the needs of specific populations as they design and offer disaster training programs and conduct outreach activities.

Former AmeriCorps*NCCC members Ashley Sloan, Greg Loushine, and Jackie Smith served at the former Charleston, S.C., NCCC campus during the 2006-07 program year. While serving on a project in St. Bernard Parish, they recognized Gulf Coast recovery efforts were hampered by the need for more volunteer housing. Their response was to create Live St. Bernard, an organization that renovated an 1,800-square foot home where up to 16 volunteers can be housed while participating in rebuilding projects. The fundraisers they organized garnered $15,000 in donations. They then led 50 volunteers to clean mold, install insulation, and paint the Live St. Bernard Home. Their efforts were chronicled by CNN and USA Today.

Blue Four, a team based at the AmeriCorps NCCC Western Region campus near Sacramento, traveled to New Orleans for its first project with the Recovery School District immediately after completing training in Denver. Team members focused on their assignment, the physical rehabilitation of schools, while undertaking a variety of additional projects to leave a lasting mark on the school district and the community. Members brainstormed creative ways to increase interaction with students, teachers, and the community in general. They helped create a more pleasing environment at modular schools by painting signs and murals, using discarded tires and other materials to landscape gardens, planting flower beds, installing benches, and spray painting mascots on school grounds. They also organized two field days, seeking various donations such as play equipment and inflatable bouncy castles to entertain 925 students. The team members, led by Tiffany Zapico, include Jennifer Armstrong, Kelly Comley, Kathleen Delahunty, Ashley Duquette, Raven Hughes, Jonathan Lee, Emily Lewis, Brian Tirey, Danielle Trezek, and Miranda Williams.

As an education leader, Pearson has helped the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart grow by nearly 20 percent annually. Pearson, an international company with its U.S. headquarters in New York, and the Pearson Foundation promote Jumpstart, provide leaders for Jumpstart's national and regional boards, and donate 100,000 books to underserved families each year. They have been the lead sponsor of Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign from the beginning – a national awareness event and the largest shared-reading experience on record – helping Jumpstart raise money for young children and rallying together hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country to volunteer for literacy. Together the two organizations have worked to set a new standard for how corporate-nonprofit partnerships can impact the achievement gap in America. Pearson helps Jumpstart and communities grow and learn.

Ben & Jerry's provides a range of support to The DREAM program, a Vermont AmeriCorps State Program. The DREAM Program is a youth mentoring organization that builds communities of families and college students to empower children from affordable housing neighborhoods to recognize their options, make informed decisions, and achieve their dreams. When DREAM became an AmeriCorps program in 2007, thereby doubling its staff, the organization faced a lack of sufficient office space. Ben & Jerry's provided the needed space. The entire company welcomed the staff to the building, offered organizational advice, and donated printing to DREAM's annual appeal. The Ben & Jerry's Foundation provided a $5,000 grant last year and included DREAM in the annual alternative holiday gift fair.

AmeriCorps Week is being marked by hundreds of events across the country, including a Habitat for Humanity blitz building project featuring 700 AmeriCorps members on the Gulf Coast and a closing ceremony in Miami where more than 600 AmeriCorps members will restore an historic beach park. An AmeriCorps Week website, located at, features a database of events, news, stories, and information about how to join.

The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year the Corporation engages more than four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet local needs through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, visit

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