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AmeriCorps Alumni Chapter Forms in Ionia County

Tuesday, August 12, 2008   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Greg Heinrich
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Sentinel-Standard writer
IONIA - Although the Ionia County AmeriCorps program may be gone, local AmeriCorps alumni hope to continue to spread the work of the group with the formation of an Ionia alumni chapter.

“Before we did the Ionia alumni chapter, if we wanted to talk to other alums, we had to visit Lansing or Grand Rapids,” Penny Beeman, one of the Ionia County AmeriCorps Alumni Chapter leaders, said.

She said there are probably more than 40 AmeriCorps alumni scattered about Ionia County.  The new local chapter was founded because leaders thought since so many county alums were still actively doing volunteer work, they should create their own chapter.

The AmeriCorps Alums program is a national network of alumni of the AmeriCorps National Service organization, a community service program that had existed in Ionia County until the group's final 2006/2007 grant year with the Ionia County Intermediate School District.  Former AmeriCorps members are excited about the opportunity this new chapter will create for Ionia County.

“We can get together and do things,” AmeriCorps alumna Brenda Cowling-Cronk said.

She said it will also be a benefit because alums working on projects have all been through similar training, so it allows everyone to be on the same page.

This new chapter will also provide funding for the group.

“We'll be able to get state funding for some of the projects we're doing locally,” Beeman said. “Usually, we don't get a whole lot of funding for anything.”

Although in its infancy, the group has already seen success with an event held in July at Bertha Brock Park.

“We had an ice cream social that was well attended for a first event,” Beeman said.

She said many former AmeriCorps members and their families attended this event.

The alumni group's efforts don't stop there, either. The next big project the group will be working on will be the Ionia Kids Club Summer Camp, where alumni members will be supervising different camp activities.

“The summer camp is being done all by alums,” Beeman said.

Following this event, she said other large events the group will be involved in include the Fall Festival at Bertha Brock Park.

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