AmeriCorps members earn scholarships through service

Ashleigh Stewart, of Youngstown, puts an apron on Chad Howe, of Kent at the third annual Power Corps spaghetti dinner on Sept. 9. Stewart has been with Power Corps for five years and has been the program manager for three. “I love to see the interaction between members and participants,” Stewart said. Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Maura Zurick

Danielle Bryan, senior English major, found a way to make money for school through giving back to the community.

She said she was able to do this through a local branch of AmeriCorps, a government-funded volunteer program that partners with local, state or national nonprofit organizations.

“I first heard about AmeriCorps in high school, and when I came to college I decided to join the POWERcorps program,” Bryan said.

POWERcorps is a part-time AmeriCorps program located in Ravenna that allows full-time students to be volunteers and get reimbursed through scholarships and a living stipend.

“It’s basically like having a part-time job,” Bryan said. “We don’t make much money but we do get paid, and at the end of our year we get an educational scholarship.”

Anne Marie Mann, director of AmeriCorps, said POWERcorps members must volunteer 900 hours in a year to earn an educational award of $2,775 and a living stipend of $6,406.

POWERcorps kicked off the school year with a spaghetti dinner Friday.

Alexis Woodworth, senior English major, has worked with POWERcorps for two years. She said all the money raised at the dinner will be donated to the County Clothing Center in Ravenna.

“These dinners are special because we’re raising money for an organization, and our consumers are helping us do that,” Woodworth said. “Our consumers serve the guests while members cook all of the food.”

Mann said POWERcorps is the only AmeriCorps program that works with people who have developmental disabilities. They serve through the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

“We give our consumers choices that they never had before,” Mann said. “Our consumers are adults with disabilities, and our program allows them to learn life skills and meet people.”

Why should I care?

• It’s a way to make money during school while helping people.

• It looks good on a resume.

• It prepares students for life after college

• It can help you learn skills you probably not learn in class

Woodsworth said before POWERcorps, she had little experience with people with disabilities, and the program helped her meet people who are full of life and have wonderful personalities.

“I’ve always been interested in community service work, and it sounded like an amazing opportunity,” Woodsworth said. “When I found out that POWERcorps worked with adults with disabilities, I thought it would be a program where I could really help people. It’s an amazing program.”

Mann said there are 25 POWERcorps members every year, and they are all selected by an application, interview and background check process.

“Members have to go through the same process people do at regular jobs,” she said. “It is a selective program because we only take 25 members each year but encourage people to apply or volunteer.”

Bryan said her AmeriCorps experience is worth more than money because she loves to help people and volunteer.

“I learned things like CPR training, job interview skills, how to handle conflicts between people and how to work with people with mental disabilities,” Bryan said. “I might not make as much at AmeriCorps as people at other jobs, but this is the type of job that really changes your life and will benefit me greatly in the future.”

Ashleigh Stewart, AmeriCorps POWERcorps program manager, said AmeriCorps is always on the chopping block for the government’s annual budget.

“If AmeriCorps gets cut so many people won’t have jobs and thousands of programs will disappear,” Stewart said. “There are more than 50 AmeriCorps programs in Ohio alone. There are also two national programs, VISTA and NCCC (which stands for National Civilian Community Corps) and all of the programs are there to specifically help people, the environment and our country.”

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].