AmeriCorps Celebrates Twenty Years Of Service
AmeriCorps is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
Since 1994 more than 900,000 people have served in AmeriCorps. The federal service program has volunteers across the nation and in U.S. territories.
Michelle Amiott was an AmeriCorps VISTA, short for Volunteers In Service To America. She volunteered for a year in Montrose County at the Valley Food Partnership, a Western Slope nonprofit.
"I was primarily engaged in starting community gardens in Montrose and Olathe," Amiott says. "When I began my term there was one community garden in Montrose and when I finished it there [was] five with two on the way."
Amiott says her experience was challenging, but also rewarding.
“I think what is amazing about the VISTA program is what each of us get out of the program is really mirrored by what we put into the community," she says. "VISTAs are charged with doing work that alleviates poverty and what I see as the most important part of that work is giving a voice and a value to the community members you're working with.”
Courtney Mullen of Paonia was an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years. She worked with Montana State Parks and at a charter school in New England.
“One of the more memorable experiences I had as a volunteer was working with the volunteers that I had recruited on Wild Horse Island State Park," Mullen says. "We walked around the island in search of barbed wire that was leftover from the early 1900’s...and the reason we were collecting this barbed wire and removing it...was because the wild horses and all the other wild animals on the island were getting tangled up in this barbed wire and injured from it."
AmeriCorps volunteers serve at schools, nonprofits, public agencies, and community and religious-based groups. Their projects range from fighting poverty to responding to natural disasters.