AmeriCorps Week: Impact Stories!

In honor of AmeriCorps Week, we wanted to share the impact our JV AmeriCorps members are making on the communities they serve! Around 120 of our JV AmeriCorps members are completing two or more capacity building projects throughout this service year. These projects address organizational gaps and enhance the quality and scope of services to address local priorities, primarily in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence, and at-risk youth, as well as disaster/emergency services, the environment, mental and behavioral health, disability, legal services, and others.

JV AmeriCorps member Brian Thurow (Hays, MT ’15-16, Juneau, AK ’16-17) serves as the JCAP Program Specialist at Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Inc. Below is a description of his capacity building project,  Men Choose Respect Curriculum Implementation.

“My capacity building project involves the implementation of a new curriculum for the Juneau Choice and Accountability Program (JCAP), a state-certified Batterer Intervention Program operated by AWARE. JCAP is transitioning away from a crisis intervention program model to a more prevention-oriented program model. In an effort to better suit the needs of our participants and our community at large, JCAP will be implementing an adapted version of the Men Choose Respect curriculum.

There is a need for a curriculum that aims for systemic, community-based change to end men’s violence against women, rather than an intervention-based curriculum that addresses the violence after it has been perpetrated. The implementation of the new curriculum will be a permanent structural change to the Juneau Choice and Accountability Program. Once the new curriculum is adapted, and the new contracts and paperwork created, the resources needed to facilitate the program will be available to any new staff.”

JV AmeriCorps member Dawn Thomas (Wenatchee WA ’16-17) serves as the Community Outreach Specialist & Healthy Lifestyles Educator at Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH). Dawn’s capacity building project is called Retinal Eye Exam Flow.

“My project involved creating a flow for eye exams and communicating that flow to Primary Care Physicians, Medical Assistants, Radiology, and members of the patient services team. At the outset of this project, the percentages of CVCH’s diabetic patients that were not receiving annual retinal eye exams were fairly high. The process I helped create will hopefully begin to lower that number, by increasing communication about eye exam availability between providers and the radiology department. Establishing a process for same-day retinal exams is important for CVCH as we move forward in attempting to reach short and long-term goals for quality whole-person care for diabetic patients.

Dawn Thomas (middle) with her Wenatchee community mates

I have been able to be the point person for communicating about the schedule and helping to develop a flow that works well in order to get patients seen for their eye exams. I also conducted eye exams in the month of December, and will begin conducting them again in March onward, helping for me to see the “on the ground” work of planning, conducting, and completing these eye exams. We established a flow for same-day eye exams, getting radiology more comfortable with doing walk-ins of these just as they do for other types of exams.”

JV AmeriCorps member Tricia Tyson (Yakima, WA ’16-17) serves at the Yakima Neighborhood Health Services. Her capacity building project is called Depot Job Match.

JV AmeriCorps members Tricia Tyson (right) and Aleina Tanabe

“I planned, designed and implemented a new program to connect individuals experiencing homelessness in Yakima with employment opportunities. I meet with clients and identify barriers for employment, obtain Social Security and ID cards, and identify employment-related programs that would interest clients. I created the infrastructure for a sustainable project to hire the most vulnerable homeless in a temporary, transitional employment program in order to lay the groundwork for future employment. I find this project uniquely benefits my clients as they feel a sense of empowerment and increased self-respect as a result of working, increasing mental health and overall well-being. Fundamentally, it helps transition clients off the street and into housing by providing them a routine and source of income.”

JV AmeriCorps member Joy Macatangay (Aloha, OR ’16-17) is the Children’s Activities Coordinator for Monika’s House Shelter/Domestic Violence Resource Center. Her capacity building project is called Creation and Implementation of Trauma Informed Structure into Kid’s Club.

“A trauma informed curriculum and positive reinforcement system for Kid’s Club was developed and implemented with the Children’s Advocate at Monika’s House. The Domestic Violence Resource Center works with individuals who have experienced vast trauma in their lives. Monika’s House tries to be as trauma informed as possible and this includes the aspect of consistency.

The curriculum and positive reinforcement system were necessary in order to provide consistency for the kids. A binder has been created containing the curriculum and positive reinforcement system for Kid’s Club. It includes directions explaining the rules to go through with the kids at the beginning of each Kid’s Club, how to perform an appropriate time out, an explanation of the positive reinforcement system, the time line for Kid’s Club, and a wide variety of activities that whoever is implementing Kid’s Club can go through and choose from.

With these directions, Kid’s Club can be executed easily in the future. The program has become more trauma informed in order to better serve the clients staying at Monika’s House. It has also been improved to be more organized and clear about the proper procedures for everything with the curriculum and clear instructions outlined in the Kid’s Club binder. Because of this, the Kid’s program is running a lot smoother.”

These impact snapshots are just a few examples of the amazing service our JV AmeriCorps members provide their organizations and the communities in which they live and serve. We are proud of the hard work and determination our JV AmeriCorps members showcase each and every day. Thank you to all AmeriCorps members who are ‘getting things done’ across the country!

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