Written by Heather Mullinix at the Crossville Chronicle
Celebrating National Service Recognition Day April 6 were, from left, front row, Azalea Gardens and Oak Lawn Gardens site manager Sherry Barker, AmeriCorps member Sheila Ryba, AmeriCorps member Cindy Simmons; and Becca Grubb, AmeriCorps director with the Tennessee Community Assistance Corporation; and back row, Crossville Police Department Assistant Chief Chris Kendrick, Crossville Police Chief Jessie Brooks, Crossville Mayor James Mayberry, Crossville Housing Authority Executive Director Kathy Vanlandingham, CHA youth program coordinator Ferlin Findley, Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster and Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox.
By Heather Mullinix
Each day, more than 270,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers work to make their communities better.
Local leaders gathered April 6 to thank some of these individuals for their service as part of National Service Recognition Day.
Kathy Vanlandingham, executive director of the Crossville Housing Authority, said, “We’ve had sometimes very large programs with Tennessee Community Assistance Corporation. We’ve used our AmeriCorps volunteers in many different ways … These are services that are so important to our residents.”
Becca Grubb, AmeriCorps director with the Tennessee Community Assistance Corporation, said, “Our program has continued to be successful in providing assistance to countless people while improving their quality of life.”
Partners like the Crossville Housing Authority provide locations for the service members to work in communities, providing a variety of services like in-home visits for the elderly and disabled, home-delivered meals, and offering afterschool programs for youth.
Vanlandingham said the afterschool program offered transportation from the schools to the afterschool site, with a snack, homework help and enrichment activities available. The in-home services for the elderly and disabled are available county-wide, not just to residents of the CHA senior living facilities.
“As we’ve been able, we’ve used our AmeriCorps volunteers to do a lot of special projects for our residents and everyone in the community,” Vanlandingham said.
AmeriCorps members have also assisted with other projects in the past on projects such as container gardening and financial education for the community.
“They have had 47 AmeriCorps members who have been the boots on the ground providing direct services to the residents in the Crossville community,” Grubb said.
In the past 10 years, AmeriCorps members provided more than 48,000 direct services. They also recruited more than 155 other volunteers who have provided more than 2,000 volunteer hours. They also secured more than $60,000 in in-kind donations that could be leveraged for additional grant opportunities.
Sheila Ryba, in her third year of serving with AmeriCorps at CHA, said, “It’s a job where I have met a lot of great people. I really enjoy what I do. I work with the kids. I’ve taken care of elderly. I’ve met a lot of great people and I work with a great team.”
Cindy Simmons, who started with AmeriCorps in August, said, “It is a pleasure to help. I’m very happy to be a part of this.”
Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster and Crossville Mayor James Mayberry both issued proclamations declaring April 6, 2021, National Service Recognition Day. The proclamations recognized that community service helped communities meet challenges and community needs.
“National service expands economic opportunity by creating more sustainable, resilient communities, and providing education, career skills and leadership abilities for those who serve,” Mayberry said. “Participants serve in more than 40,000 locations across the country, bolstering the civic, neighborhood and faith-based organizations that are so vital to our economic and social wellbeing. National service participants increase the impact of the organizations they serve, both through their direct service and managing millions of additional volunteers.”
AmeriCorps offers service opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. It is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, though virtually all AmeriCorps positions are hosted by local nonprofits, government agencies and other organization who apply for AmeriCorps grants.
Members receive a living allowance, health coverage, student-loan forbearance and, after completing their term of service, an education award to pay off qualified student loans or to finance additional education or training.
Learn more at americorps.gov.