Leakey’s Guajardo graduating from AmeriCorps program

Erin Guajardo of Leakey will wrap up volunteer work with the National Civilian Community Corps, a 10-month AmeriCorps program, tomorrow.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps
Leakey resident Erin Guajardo (center) with her fellow AmeriCorps volunteers at the North River and Lee Ranger Districts in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they received firefighting training.

She began her term of service during the summer of 2019 at the Southern Region campus in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

As a Corps member, Guajardo has completed a series of different six- to 12-week-long service projects in different places across her assigned region as part of a five- to 12-person team.

Guajardo’s projects have included working with Habitat for Humanity of Craven County in New Bern, North Carolina, to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Florence.

The team also trained in firefighting at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where members received Red Card certifications that enabled them to be deployed for prescribed burns and wildfire responses. Their chainsaw skills can be used on projects related to forestry as well as disaster response and recovery.

Later, through another project at the parks, they assisted in prescribed burn projects, land management and tree planting.

Guajardo and her team also assisted with the preservation work of cannons, maintained historical pieces, and rehabilitated battlefield landscapes at Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The team also executed controlled burns in multiple locations within three Louisiana state parks.

“There are many people in America who are living in conditions that are unsafe and inhumane. Whether they were victims of a natural disaster or poverty, there are people who need help,” Guajardo said. “I think about it and wonder, ‘If it’s not me, then who is going to help them?’ and that’s really what inspired me to join AmeriCorps.

“I can be a small part of something good and something life changing for people. I believe that if everybody just gave a little bit of their time to help others, the world would be a much better place.”

Founded in 1994, AmeriCorps NCCC is a residential national service program that strengthens communities and develops leaders. Projects support disaster relief, the environment, infrastructure improvement, energy conservation, and urban and rural development.

Over the past 25 years, over 1 million Americans have served the nation through the family of AmeriCorps programs. Currently, about 75,000 people serve in AmeriCorps programs nationwide each year, with about 1,700 of those in AmeriCorps NCCC.

AmeriCorps NCCC operates out of four campuses, which serve as regional administrative hubs and training facilities. These campuses, located in Sacramento, California, Aurora, Colorado, Vinton, Iowa, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, train and deploy new classes of members several times each year.

AmeriCorps NCCC members complete at least 1,700 hours of service during the 10-month program. Corps members are all 18 to 24 years old; there is no upper age limit for team leaders.

In exchange for their service, all program participants receive $6,195 to help pay for college. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, team building skills, and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, they can indeed make a difference.

AmeriCorps NCCC is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, visit the website at www.nationalservice.gov/nccc.

AmeriCorps Week 2020 was celebrated March 8-14 as an opportunity to recognize the service of 75,000 AmeriCorps members who strengthen communities across the nation each year, helping nonprofit organizations, schools, and parks accomplish their missions.

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