Harrisburg – Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier this week recognized the important work of dedicated AmeriCorps members as part of National AmeriCorps Week during a visit Wednesday at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Reading.
The week of celebration – March 13 through March 19 – shines a light on the commitment of millions of Americans who have chosen to step up and serve their communities through a variety of diverse, audience-focused programs.
“Here at L&I, our PennSERVE staff work every day to support organizations that use service and volunteerism to address Pennsylvania’s most pressing challenges,” Secretary Berrier said. “As a state service commission, PennSERVE helped hire more than 1,000 AmeriCorps members last year. These members served more than 32,000 children, provided job training to 450 Pennsylvanians, served more than 200 veterans and military families, treated 645 acres of public land, and provided essential support to communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Programs like the one we are visiting this week truly show the power of service your community and prove that by working together, a difference can be made.
Secretary Berrier was joined by PennSERVE General Manager Maureen Eccleston for the visit to Reading, where they met with AmeriCorps club members, staff and children. Olivet AmeriCorps Community Builders program. Each year, the Olivet Boys & Girls Club engages up to 68 AmeriCorps members who support the delivery of after-school and summer college initiatives, including homework assistance, high-performance learning activities , reading enrichment and STEM programming for K-8 club members in 10 clubs. sites in Reading, Robesonia and Shillington.
“AmeriCorps Week gives us an opportunity to remember the power of service to uplift communities,” said Executive Director Eccleston. “Pennsylvania AmeriCorps members are building literal homes and figurative bridges. They mentor and mentor youth, students, refugees, and immigrants. They fight the continuing effects of a global pandemic, while restoring our natural environment for the benefit of generations to come. . PennSERVE is proud to support 25 AmeriCorps programs as they engage Pennsylvanians to meet critical needs.
Secretary Berrier and General Manager Eccleston observed and participated in enrichment reading activities with the children of the club and learned about the new “Hubs of Hope” care closet, which was developed to meet emerging needs during the pandemic.
Earlier in the week, L&I and PennSERVE announced the winners of the 2022 PennSERVE AmeriCorps Week Awards. The following awards were presented to individuals who have provided outstanding service to the Commonwealth as participants or supporters of AmeriCorps:
AmeriCorps Senior Volunteer of the Year
Elizabeth Anderson, known as Grandma Elizabeth, is an AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program volunteer with Wesley Family Services in Pittsburgh. Grandmother Elizabeth has served for more than eight years, continuing through the pandemic so her students – her children – know she cares and is there for them. At the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School, teacher Ms Hanner once said Grandma Elizabeth was “the greatest addition” to her class. Grandmother Elizabeth builds strong relationships with everyone she meets at school, including the children, teachers, staff and families of the children she serves.
Support exemplary national service
Art Block is a proud Philadelphia Public Schools graduate and served on the City Year Philadelphia Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years. Having faced challenges in his own life, Art recognized that he had a village of people who helped him stay on track to complete high school, college, and law school. Art’s support of AmeriCorps and City Year knows no bounds, having served as Co-Chair of the Board and Chair of Development. He has leveraged corporate sponsorships to generate over $5 million in donations to City Year Philadelphia. Art has met with elected officials, reached out to big business leaders, and engaged with school district leaders and other decision makers on behalf of City Year.
AmeriCorps Member of the Year
Devoratt Martinez is a full-time AmeriCorps member with CarbonCorps, serving the Weatherly Area School District. In this role, Devoratt mentors up to 10 students per week and meets with K-3 groups to facilitate social-emotional learning opportunities. In all of its service activities, Devoratt goes above and beyond, working with guidance counselors, teachers, and families to provide updates on progress and determine if there are new areas to address. With the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, she helped provide students with a “chest of hope” full of holiday gifts. With the BRC TV13 hat and glove drive, she has ensured that all students in need receive donated hats and gloves.
Lifetime Service Award
On October 31, 1994, Carol Overly began a term in AmeriCorps’ inaugural class with the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps. Along with her team, Carol won a Governor’s Achievement Award for producing a video about the dangers of lead poisoning in children. That same year, Carol co-authored a book called “My Mommy’s in Prison” as a resource for families engaged with the local Head Start; this book is registered at the Library of Congress. After her tenure at AmeriCorps, Carol was hired as a regional coordinator, and in December 2000, she became program director for the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps. As Director, Carol led the program through substantial growth; once a nine-county, 40-member AmeriCorps program, PMSC later covered 16 counties and hired up to 157 members annually.
AmeriCorps Perseverance in Member Service Award
As an AmeriCorps member with Compass AmeriCorps in Pittsburgh, Emily teaches an adult ESL class to Congolese refugees. With a dynamic spirit, Emily faced an ever-changing service placement, constantly shifting from in-person to remote service. Yet she has ensured the continuity of her classes to ensure that she meets the critical learning needs of her students. Emily shows up with the utmost positivity and is prepared for any outcome that may arise that day. She has the leadership and organizational skills to help lead and thrive in the classroom. Emily keeps her students engaged and connects them with outside resources such as the community library, organizing a field trip to help her students access the library as a resource for themselves and their families.
Dr Dominique Thornhill
Support exemplary national service
Dr. Dominique Thornhill is owner and director of Each One Teach One Childcare & Learning Center. The center serves children from infancy through high school with childcare, tutoring, and summer enrichment; and is a volunteer station for AmeriCorps Seniors, Foster Grandparent Program, sponsored by Wesley Family Services. With safety precautions at the forefront, Dr. Thornhill’s center was the only virtual learning service for school-aged children in Wilkinsburg — outside of Pittsburgh — in 2021. Dr. Dominique Thornhill dreams big, moves kids things and provides incredible support to AmeriCorps seniors and youth.
In Pennsylvania, AmeriCorps programs are funded by PennSERVE, which L&I oversees. Each year, PennSERVE awards approximately $12 million in federal funding from the federal agency AmeriCorps to various programs across Pennsylvania. These programs are responsible for vital work in their respective communities, such as helping manage the COVID-19 response, ensuring students stay on track to graduate, fighting hunger and homelessness, responding to natural disasters, fight the opioid epidemic, help seniors live independently, support veterans and military families, and much more.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Peterson, [email protected]
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