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National volunteer week gets local – QNS.com

National volunteer week gets local

Recently, 75,000 volunteers nationwide participated in service projects in neighborhoods across America as part of AmeriCorps week. Over 25 projects in neighborhoods across New York City received attention for the second year in a row.
Five Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) volunteered to repair and repaint a Jamaica church on Wednesday, May 14.
The VISTA volunteers, five strong, worked repainting an aging hallway and cleaned a kitchen that is used for a local food outreach program at the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church at 179-09 Jamaica Avenue.
Becoming a VISTA is a yearlong commitment in which volunteers are assigned charities to help administrate. This includes writing grant submissions, database management and coordinating other volunteer and resource management efforts. The AmeriCorps week gets VISTAs out into the community to do some hands on work.
“This week gives VISTAs a chance to get out in the field and to do things that we normally don’t get to do,” said Kendra Simonton. Simonton is the resident VISTA at Bethesda Baptist. She has been full time volunteering at the church since last August.
She has organized such events as the emergency food program, a three-day a week soup kitchen, and various other workshops.
Andrea Dispenza organized the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, a division of the AmeriCorps, in their volunteer undertakings across the city. She stressed how not only was the program important for the organizations that were being helped but that the annual event also alerted the community to what the AmeriCorps were all about. “Recruitment, awareness, bringing members together to do these different volunteer things, that is what this week is all about,” said Dispenza.
Governor Paterson even embraced the program saying, “AmeriCorps members help to improve the lives of our state’s residents by meeting the needs of local communities.”
The AmeriCorps week ran from May 11 through May 17.

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