Yesterday, five AmeriCorps alums received the most prestigious honor given to youth leaders by the United States Congress – the Congressional Gold Medal Award. This year, 250 were chosen as honorees and five were AmeriCorps NCCC alumni but of the 1,000 Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalists that are chosen each year more than 1,000 are affiliated with AmeriCorps.
The Congressional Gold Medal Award program began in 1979 and has recognized thousands of young Americans committed to serving their country and improving themselves. This year's group of honorees have completed more than 125,000 volunteer service hours nationally and abroad. Members of Congress and service leaders were on hand to recognize the recipients.
“Young people bring a special vitality and energy to the service movement that we see every day through their work in programs like AmeriCorps,” said Stan Soloway, Board Member of the Corporation for National and Community Service, who spoke at the awards ceremony. “National service is a powerful tool for creating tomorrow's leaders, fostering a will to give back, and meeting local needs in communities nationwide.”
We'll feature a different service story from each of the AmeriCorps NCCC alums next week, but here's an introduction to each of them:
- Rebecca Constantine, Florence, MA– Constantine served with AmeriCorps NCCC in 2010. She traveled across the country to serve in projects like Parks and People Foundation in Baltimore, the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Westport, Mass., and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. She also deployed to work on disaster relief efforts during the Nashville Floods of 2010, being called up by FEMA to help flood victims in Tennessee.
- Daniel England, Stuart, FL – England served with AmeriCorps NCCC starting January 2009, where he completed over 400 hours of service. He worked at Neighbors Organized for Adequate Housing (NOAH) in Belle Grade, which provides assistance and resources to low-income families. With a passion to promote education and awareness on disaster preparation, England developed a manual for families and individuals that address potential disasters that could hit the Palm Beach County. He also advised NOAH on Disaster Preparedness policies and procedures that provided the organization with grant opportunities to further services offered in the field of disaster education.
- Jenna Kreitzer, West Bend, WI– Kreitzer served two terms with AmeriCorps NCCC, starting January 2008. As an AmeriCorps NCCC member, she traveled across the country to serve with projects like HandsOn New Orleans and Camp Highroad in Virginia. She was also deployed to work on disaster relief efforts with FEMA in Columbia, Portage, Fond du Lac and Grant Counties of Wisconsin. Kreitzer was also deployed to West Virginia to work with FEMA in assisting flood victims.
- Autumn Sicking, Lincoln, NE – Her term as an AmeriCorps NCCC began in October of 2008, where she traveled to Conroe and Woodlands, Tex., to work with United Way, canvasing communities in the wake of Hurricane Ike in order to provide resources to victims and assessing the needs of residents. She also worked in a FEMA disaster relief center in Texas. There, she taught adult literacy and English as a second language to clients at The Women's Center in Fort Worth. During her final months in NCCC, she traveled to Sacramento, Calif. to tutor and mentor students at the F.C. Joyce Elementary School.
- Cassandra Holtz, Muskego, WI – Holtz began her 1,800 hour service term with AmeriCorps NCCC in October 2008, traveling across the country to work on service projects, including Biloxi, Miss., to build homes with Habitat for Humanity for victims of Hurricane Katrina. After her stint in Mississippi, she traveled to Miami, where her team built ten homes for low-income families. She helped leverage 40 volunteers to work ten hours a day to complete one house in ten days.