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AmeriCorps National Service Programs Seek Michigan Members

AmeriCorps volunteers are working with groups such as CEDAM to serve communities across Michigan. (R. Diskin)
AmeriCorps volunteers are working with groups such as CEDAM to serve communities across Michigan. (R. Diskin)
May 30, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – Across Michigan, more than 1,400 members with the AmeriCorps national service program are dedicating a year of their lives to building stronger communities, and one organization is looking for more to join their ranks.

The Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, or "CEDAM," runs two AmeriCorps programs with an emphasis on financial awareness and eliminating poverty.

Director of national service programs Rachel Diskin says the members, who receive a modest living stipend along with an educational credit, are getting hands-on experience and changing lives at sites across the state.

"They're facilitating financial-education classes, and they're also doing things like creating community-resource fairs, hosting the VITA free tax assistance program, and some of the members also do foreclosure prevention," she explains.

CEDAM currently is recruiting for 30 new AmeriCorps members, who must be at least 18-years old and willing to serve for a full year. More information is at CEDAM.info.

AmeriCorps, often referred to as the domestic version of the Peace Corps, is funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created under the Clinton administration. While Diskin says program funding already is secure for the coming year, the 2018 federal budget proposed by President Trump has targeted the program for elimination.

"That really pulls the rug out for a lot of organizations that rely on AmeriCorps members," she says. "Just in the state of Michigan, we have 32 different programs and members are filling so many vital needs."

Diskin calls the program a two-way street in which participants are able to serve their communities while also gaining much-needed professional development.

"They're giving of themselves, they're giving to the community, but we're also trying to make sure they're getting back as much as they can," she adds. "Once the year is over, that AmeriCorps member is ready to hit the ground running in terms of whatever is next for them in their life."

Nearly 80,000 people across the country serve in AmeriCorps programs each year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI