AmeriCorps underway in Surry thanks to state grant


First Posted: 8/30/2009

AmeriCorps got underway this week in Surry County and the surrounding area thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.
Despite state budget cuts, the commission gave a $327,576 grant this year to Stokes Partnership for Children to fund its AmeriCorps and Children Together program, which encompasses seven counties.
We knew we would get funding, we just werent sure we would get as much as we asked for, said Anne Moser, AmeriCorps supervisor with Stokes Partnership for Children.
The agency received news of the grant in mid-July and just completed selecting its ACT participants for this year. This grant allowed Stokes Partnership to hire 25 full-time and five minimum-time workers. These program members will work as assistant preschool teachers, allowing teachers to have release time to further their education. The participants will also reduce the teacher-child ratios and supply additional resources to childcare providers.
Our goal is to improve the quality of education of the children going through the childcare system, Moser said.
The ACT program serves Buncombe, Davie, Forsyth, Henderson, Hertford, Stokes and Surry counties. One participant has been selected for Surry County.
Chrystal Wilmoth will participate in her second year with the ACT program in Surry County. She will be working with the preschool program at LifeSpan Circle School on Jones School Road in Mount Airy. Wilmoth worked last year with the LifeSpan Circle School on Williamson Avenue in Mount Airy.
I really thoroughly enjoy this … Youre giving back to others, said Wilmoth, a mother of two who is going back to school for special education training.
Wilmoth found out about AmeriCorps at a job fair and now recommends the program to others. She said it has not only prepared her for a new career, but has made her a better parent.
Ive learned about early childhood education and what makes children tick … I would stay in (the program) as long as they let me, she said.
Wilmoth and other participants have been participating in orientation this week, and they will begin their ACT assignments on Monday.
Full-time workers in the ACT program must complete 1,700 hours of service by June 30, 2010. They receive an $11,600 stipend that is spread across 10 months, and once their hours are completed, they receive a $4,725 educational award to go towards paying for future college classes or currently owed student loans. Minimum-time workers complete 300 volunteer hours and receive a $1,000 education award. The program also provides tuition for its participants to enroll in college courses and earn North Carolina Early Childhood Credentials I and II.
Moser said 50 to 75 people applied to this years program. Those applicants who showed a commitment to service in their applications were called in for a preliminary interview, and then serious candidates completed another interview. Moser said the program has drawn high-school graduates to people holding masters degrees.
This is the 10th grant that the partnership has received through the years to fund the ACT program. The AmeriCorps and Children Together program has been recognized at both the national and state level.
Moser said, Its been a collaborative effort with other agencies across the state.
In the end, 12 AmeriCorps programs in North Carolina received a total of more than $3.8 million in grants for the 2009-2010 program year. More than 5,000 people have participated in AmeriCorps programs in North Carolina and more than 300,000 people nationwide since the programs inception in 1993. AmeriCorps is a national initiative funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service to increase volunteering and civic engagement.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or at 719-1952.

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