March 10, 2017
When Laura Fliegel decided to become a YWCA Central Alabama AmeriCorps member, she figured she would serve her community for a year before going back to school to pursue a master’s degree in international relations. Six months later, she’s still planning on returning to school, but she’s focusing on a degree in social work instead.
“It’s been a life-changing experience for me,” Fliegel said of her AmeriCorps service with one of the YW’s domestic violence shelters. “It has given me a new career path, amazing opportunities and a broad knowledge base about resources available in our community.”
Fliegel and the other members of the YWCA’s “Building Communities, Bettering Lives” AmeriCorps program were recently honored at a breakfast in conjunction with national AmeriCorps Week and were praised for their service to the community. “We want you to know how grateful we are for the impact you have on our lives and the lives of everyone you serve,” Angela Abdur-Rasheed, assistant director of AmeriCorps for the YW, said. “We value and appreciate you tremendously.”
A national service initiative, AmeriCorps is similar to the Peace Corps, but members serve within the United States rather than internationally. Since its inception in 1994, more than 1 million members have contributed 1.4 billion hours of service across America. Nationwide, 80,000 members are serving this year.
YWCA has partnered with Serve Alabama and the Corporation for National and Community Service since 2009 to administer the AmeriCorps program. Members serve with the YW and its 18 nonprofit partner agencies in the areas of homelessness, social justice, child development, girls and women's leadership, housing, domestic violence and economic development.
In the first quarter alone, the YW’s 40 AmeriCorps members contributed 7,141 hours and more than 16,000 people benefited from their service. “The collective work of the AmeriCorps members is a deeply stitched thread in the fabric of the Birmingham community,” Bacarra Sanderson-Mauldin, of the City of Birmingham’s Mayor’s Office, told the members. “We are better because you decided to serve.”
AmeriCorps members receive a monthly stipend, student loan forbearance and an education award at the end of their service year and are eligible for a child care subsidy and health insurance. Members serve from September to August and gain valuable work experience while impacting lives.
The YW is currently accepting applications for the 2017-18 program year. For more information, contact Angela Abdur-Rasheed at email@example.com.