YWCA Central Alabama Celebrate AmeriCorps Champions of Service

August 15, 2012

The YWCA Central Alabama "Building Communities, Bettering Lives" AmeriCorps program is pleased to recognize and congratulate its 2012 Champions of Service, Mary Chiles and Kellie Cosby.

Chosen by peers and staff, from among the 24 YWCA AmeriCorps members, Chiles and Cosby were honored for their outstanding service, leadership and initiative at a statewide AmeriCorps graduation ceremony last week in Montgomery.

Chiles is completing her second year of service as an AmeriCorps member in the YWCA's Social Justice department. She works with teenagers on several programs, including the Heritage Panel program, which works intensely with 25 students from one school to teach them leadership skills and to empower them to stand up for students being bullied. She has implemented this program in 14 different schools this past year.

Another one of Chiles' responsibilities was to direct Anytown Alabama, a social justice leadership camp for high school students. Chiles worked with two other AmeriCorps members to recruit the students and the volunteer staff; update the curriculum; train the staff; and then direct the implementation of the week-long program. "She's the perfect person to serve with," said a fellow AmeriCorps member. "Mary always does what she says she will do and takes her responsibilities seriously. She is smart and has strong opinions, but she listens well to others and doesn't always have to have her way. She inspires all of us to do our best and achieve excellence."

"Receiving this award was such an honor for me," said Chiles. "It was a very special way to end my AmeriCorps service term."

Cosby is completing her first year of service as an AmeriCorps member with one of the YWCA's partners, Hope Manifest. Not only does she do excellent service at Hope Manifest, she also volunteers with other AmeriCorps programs and events, including Habitat for Humanity, KaBoom, Leading Edge Institute, Girls on the Run and Anytown Alabama.

As a regular "coach" for Girls on the Run, she provided a listening ear for girls and a friendly face for parents. Cosby's passion for running was only overshadowed by her passion for children and her desire to encourage them to be strong and do their best. Cosby made a lasting impression on the girls she coached and many other people who she reached out to as an AmeriCorps member. An AmeriCorps member who served with Kellie described her as "someone who is smart and has a lot of integrity but also doesn't take herself too seriously and is a ton of fun!"

"AmeriCorps has refined my definition of service. It's not about where you serve or even who you serve but the spirit in which you do it. That is why this award is by far the most affirming honor I have ever received," said Cosby.

Since its inception in 1994, more than 706,000 Americans have given over 860 million hours of service through AmeriCorps. YWCA "Building Communities, Bettering Lives" AmeriCorps members help serve in areas of domestic violence prevention, social justice, homelessness initiatives, leadership and community development programs, housing and child care. The YWCA's AmeriCorps program currently has 24 members and will expand to 30 members in September 2012. 

Visit www.ywcabham.org and click on the AmeriCorps link for details on the YWCA's "Building Communities, Bettering Lives" program.

The YW would like to extend its gratitude to Mary and Kellie for furthering the YW's vision of creating a more caring community and achieving positive changes in the lives of individuals and families whom we serve.