VETERANS GREEN JOBS WELCOMES 6TH AMERICORPS NCCC TEAM, EARTH 2.
After breaking for the winter holidays, 300 members of AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) are recharged and primed to begin a new round of service projects for 28 organizations in Denver and across the central and southwestern United States. Running through early March, these are teams’ second of four long-term projects during a 10-month commitment to national service.
Twenty-three teams deployed on Saturday, January 7 from the AmeriCorps NCCC regional hub in Denver. Twenty of those teams traveled out of state to Missouri, Texas, Arizona and destinations in between to serve on projects including the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and assisting with ongoing tornado recovery in Joplin, Mo., among others. Three teams had a shorter drive; one to the San Luis Valley, where they will support Center Consolidated Schools, and two just to the Colorado Springs area, where they will support Pike National Forest and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office with wildfire prevention and fighting. Members of these last two teams, in addition to seven alternates, will spend their first week becoming Red Card certified.
The five remaining teams began serving organizations in Denver on Monday, January 9, including Veterans Green Jobs, the Denver Green School, Marycrest Assisted Living, the Denver Asset Building Coalition, and the Piton Foundation.
Veterans Green Jobs (VGJ), a relatively new non-profit, provides green jobs education, transition support, and career and enterprise development opportunities for military veterans. The NCCC team will help to operate VGJ’s new Go Green Warehouse, which encourages recycling, keeps donated material out of landfills, creates jobs for veterans, and provides resources for VGJ and the customers it serves. The NCCC team will also support VGJ’s Weatherization Client Services department by performing outreach, preliminary energy audits, and passing out energy-efficient light bulbs, directly impacting clients’ energy consumption and decreasing utility bills.
Denver Green School (DGS) is a Denver Public School (DPS) serving diverse southeast Denver neighborhoods. DGS is the first school in DPS to focus on sustainability. Students explore what sustainability means in relationship to their classroom, their community, the planet and themselves. The team will be focused primarily on working in classrooms as math and literacy coaches for students. Additionally, the team will help with physical activities during recess and game time to decrease bullying. Lastly, the team will work closely with teachers and administration to implement service-learning projects. If weather allows, the Corps Members will work on preparing the school’s farm and garden for the spring planting season and for their next phase of the farm to cafeteria program. One of DGS’s founding partners, Frank Coyne, is a two-term alumnus of AmeriCorps NCCC; he served as both a Corps Member and Team Leader about 15 years ago.
Marycrest Assisted Living is a legacy of the Sisters of St. Francis and provides compassionate and comprehensive services in a comfortable and dignified environment for persons with disabilities and for seniors. The team will recruit potential community volunteers, manage relationships with existing volunteers, and directly serve residents, including visiting with residents, escorting to meals, organizing and leading activities, escorting on group outings, and providing administrative/operations support (answering phones, periodic assistance with repairs, etc.).
The Denver Asset Building Coalition (DABC) was formed in 2003 with the mission of providing free tax preparation, financial education, and financial services through accessible sites in Denver to help the underserved build for the future and become economically stable. DABC will utilize an NCCC team to operate, as well as expand hours and capacity, at two free tax preparation sites in Denver and Aurora. The Corps Members will be trained and certified by DABC instructors to prepare federal and state tax returns during the first two weeks of service. DABC estimates that the team will have the capacity to prepare up to 1,500 tax returns delivering a significant economic impact for the low-income clientele whom they assist.
AmeriCorps NCCC members will also support The Piton Foundation with Tax Help Colorado, providing free income tax preparation to low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals. The goal is to ensure that these disadvantaged populations receive all the tax credits they are entitled to without spending their much-needed tax refunds on tax preparation fees. NCCC members will take an accredited course on income tax preparation to receive IRS certification as a volunteer tax preparer. They will then work alongside college students at various sites throughout the Metro Denver area.
The current class of 300 Southwest Region AmeriCorps NCCC members arrived in Denver on October 12, 2011 to begin training for their 10-month term of service. They will complete their term of service with a graduation ceremony on July 27, 2012.