Last week, on October 21, four very special national service alums were recognized for their great work. These alums represented four national service programs: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps State and National program, and Senior Corps. They represented a variety of fields, and came from around the state. And we have all of you to thank for introducing us to them.
AmeriCorps Alums Chicago and the Serve Illinois Commission selected these four alums from a wide range of nominations as the best of the best, extraordinary people who exemplified the AmeriCorps pledge, commitment to improving our country and community, during their terms of service and ever since.
We honored them all in Springfield, IL, at the Serve Illinois Commission's Opening Day ceremony, where we were joined by a very special guest, Wendy Spencer, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service!
We were so impressed that we want you to have a chance to meet our winners as well!
AmeriCorps NCCC: April Friend
For her service to AmeriCorps NCCC, today we’re honoring April Friend. April served at NCCC’s Denver campus. She also served a VISTA term with a nationally-recognized tax preparation program, the Center for Economic Progress, where she still works today as the Senior Director of Tax Services.
We also wanted to read from April’s nomination. April’s nominator said:
AmeriCorps service helped April to both define a career path as well as a personal mission to continue to serve. She continues to utilize her background to help her program move forward and ensure positive, productive experiences for all those involved.
(Pictured from left to right: Faye Stauber, Jamar Beyonou, and Birtis Reed.)
AmeriCorps VISTA: Faye Stauber
Our winner from AmeriCorps VISTA is Faye Stauber. Faye served two years as a VISTA Case Manager and After School Coordinator at Inspiration Corporation, and is now a social worker leading a team of clinical care staff and serving those afflicted with mental illness at Thresholds.
Faye’s nominator had the following to say about her:
Faye is very well rounded. She has great wisdom and incredible clinical skills that she puts to use daily. Her work ethic is top notch and she leads her team by example. Faye is very empathetic and goes above and beyond in the work that she does with our staff and our clients.
AmeriCorps State and National: Jamar Beyonou
From AmeriCorps State and National Programs, we’re honoring Jamar Beyonou. Jamar served his AmeriCorps terms with City Year Chicago, and now, nine years later, is still serving there today as an employee.
Jamar’s nomination included the following quote:
Having worked in urban education reform for over ten years, I can honestly say that Jamar is one of the most committed and caring colleagues that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Jamar truly lives City Year's values of inclusivity, collaboration and putting students first.
Senior Corps: Birtis Reed
For his service as a Foster Grandparent, a Senior Corps program, today we honor Birtis Reed. Birtis has served an astonishing 21 years as a Foster Grandparent, where he volunteers with the children at Anna Waters Head Start.
Here’s what impressed us so much about Birtis, from the words of his nominator:
Birtis Reed has been a volunteer in the Foster Grandparent program for 21 years. This man is now 81 years old … and still volunteers every day …. Each year his evaluations continue to exceed all expectations of what our program supports. He is always smiling and in a great mood, I feel this man should be recognized for his true compassion and dedication to the children and the Foster Grandparent Program.
And one more thing:
We celebrate these individuals for their selfless work and their commitment to service, but we also celebrate that national service programs in which they served. We believe that programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps provide great opportunities for great people to do great work, and to get things done in the world.
Unfortunately, there are many who don't know about AmeriCorps or Senior Corps, and many others who don't fully understand their value. In fact, federal funding for AmeriCorps is once again on the precipice, and it needs your help to bring it back to safer ground.
What can you do? To start with, talk about AmeriCorps. Tell your story, and tell your elected officials that this is something that matters to you. We are working on a plan to provide more ways to help, and will keep you all posted as it develops. In the mean time, thank you for all you to do to continue to serve, and to proudly continue serving out the AmeriCorps pledge to get things done!