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The Best of the Best Claim 2012 Service Impact Awards

by Greg Tucker

Today the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced the winners of the 2012 Service Impact Awards at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago.

These groups and individuals were chosen by CNCS panels from 255 submissions as examples of best practices and innovative thinking in eight key issue areas. In addition, one People's Choice winner, Habitat for Humanity Vet Corps, was selected via public voting on Challenge.gov.

Our awardees:

  • have recycled and re-used products to save the environment
  • helped more kids go to college
  • built houses and helped veterans and their families transition into homes
  • improved the school and community climate for children suffering effects from military deployments
  • helped adults and students learn valuable life skills and find gainful employment while also serving
  • increased resources for individuals with food and job insecurity
  • connected clients with free medications
  • addressed the effects of disaster…….saving lives, saving dollars and restoring communities.

They show by their example what is the very best about national service. They make us all proud.

Here are the 2012 Service Impact Awards winners:

Disaster Services:

AmeriCorps St. Louis Safety Service Corps
The St. Louis Safety Service Corps answered the call time and time again after natural disasters scarred communities across the Midwest in 2011. From the record-setting devastation of the EF-5 tornados that struck Joplin, MO, to the massive floods that covered southeast Missouri and flowed into surrounding states, the 35 full-time AmeriCorps members traveled across the state and region to assist those affected by these destructive forces of nature.

Economic Opportunity:

Christopher Gonzales, Jr., Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center
Christopher Gonzales, a dedicated AmeriCorps VISTA at the Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center's (SAEHC), developed a program to eliminate some of the barriers the homeless face as they strive to find permanent employment. The SAEHC'S Resource Center includes three departments: a Donations Center, a Computer Resource Center, and a Transportation Program. His effort has served more than 650 clients and distributed more than 2,000 donated items in its first six months.

Education:

National College Advising Corps
Utilizing the energy and enthusiasm of recent college grads from partner universities to serve as full-time advisers in underserved schools, the National College Advising Corps works to improve the prospects of economically disadvantaged students for post-secondary success. Advising Corps members work one-on-one with students to provide the advice and encouragement that will help them make their dreams come true.

Environmental Stewardship:

Coulee Region RSVP and Senior Companion Program
The Coulee Region RSVP in La Crosse, WI, collaborated with Gundersen Lutheran Health System's environmental stewardship program to mitigate some of the waste that was being sent to the county's landfill. The 20 volunteers in the “blue wrap” program have transformed 575 pounds of clean waste material into 932 items that are currently in use at the medical facility.

Healthy Futures:

Philadelphia Health Corps
Philadelphia Health Corps members serve in the city's District Health Centers to help patients who are uninsured or have chronic illnesses gain access to medications through drug company prescription assistance programs. The program has grown from two AmeriCorps members in 2006 to 16 members serving in eight health centers. During the past six years, this program has helped more than 12,646 patients gain free access to medications, saving the city more than $8.5 million.

People's Choice:

Habitat for Humanity Vet Corps
Habitat for Humanity's Vet Corps works to ensure those who served their country get the support they have earned to avoid homelessness and poverty and reintegrate into their communities when they leave military service. The initiative has placed 11 AmeriCorps VISTAs at Habitat affiliates across the nation, enabling Habitat to provide more than 300 housing solutions to veterans and military families, recruit veterans as Habitat employees and national service members, and engage veterans as volunteers.

Veterans and Military Families:

  • Heather Hays, California Conservation Corps Veteran Green Corps
    AmeriCorps VISTA Heather Hays helps recently discharged vets make the most of a California Conservation Corps (CCC) program that lets them serve their country in a new way while putting them on a pathway to permanent employment. The Veterans Green Corps places vets in an instructional work environment preserving natural resources and providing emergency response services while connecting them with support services and career development resources.
  • Waynesville R-VI School District
    AmeriCorps and VISTA teams have partnered with Learn and Serve to create a comprehensive afterschool program to help the students in the Waynesville School District stay on course academically. The district gets 70 percent of its students from the Fort Leonard Wood Military Installation, and the transitory nature of the families can create challenges for the students. The teams provide academic support to 1,696 students, lead 400 in afterschool programs, and develop summer school programming for the district.
  • Arizona Operation: Military Kids
    Operation: Military Kids (OMK) is a national initiative funded program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense, and delivered through a grant received by the University of Arizona 4-H Youth Development. OMK supports military youth age 5-18 with outreach programs that enhance deployment cycle resilience through life skill development. Additionally, program components developed by AmeriCorps and VISTA members help military youth cope with the stresses of being away from their parents serving far from home.
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