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Inner Harbour Campus, AmeriCorps celebrate 10 years of partnership

December 6, 2010

For the past decade, AmeriCorps volunteers have helped out at Inner Harbour.

Inner Harbour and AmeriCorps have enjoyed a 10-year partnership. Each year, about 15 AmeriCorps members volunteer for a 10-month term of service, providing one-on-one tutoring and helping young people at the Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus in Douglasville, Ga., learn more about helping one another.

Some AmeriCorps volunteers returned for a second year of service at Inner Harbour. Pictured are Tiffany Flesch, Brandon Grant, Jeen Rooks and Austin McGehee.

Members are selected annually from an applicant pool of about 400. This year, four Corps members are returning for another year.

“Not only do you see the young people grow, you learn a lot about yourself,” said Brandon Grant, one of the returning members. “I enjoyed my experience and look forward to it again.”

In addition to math and literacy tutoring for the young people, AmeriCorps members also spend a semester of service learning with the students, teaching them what it’s like to serve and give back to the community.

Many of Inner Harbour’s youth have failed in a traditional classroom setting, and supplementing their educational services with one-on-one tutoring and hands-on service learning really makes a difference for struggling students. The program is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Georgia Commission on Service and Volunteerism and the Corporation for National & Community Service.

“It’s an incredible experience for the young people,” said Kayla Scrivner, Youth Villages’ AmeriCorps program director. “Many students at Inner Harbour haven’t experienced service and helping others, and this gives them a chance to understand the giving concept on another level and learn at the same time.”

Austin McGehee spent last year helping with recruiting and building the volunteer program at Inner Harbour. This year, he’ll be working more with young people.

“I’m excited about working directly with students at the Inner Harbour School this year,” he said. “I’ll be able to see how my volunteer recruiting efforts blend with direct interaction with the students at Inner Harbour.”

All of the AmeriCorps members understand and see the difference in the young people. Tiffany Flesch is returning to get students involved in theater and drama therapy. Jeen Rooks worked mostly with teenagers last year, and will also be returning for a second year.

“There are successes and setbacks, but you watch them grow and experience things they’ve never experienced before – even simple things,” she said. “And it’s rewarding to experience that with them, as if there’s just a little bit of peace in the world and you’ve been a part of it.”

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