FULTON, NY – While the CYO Summer Program at Catholic Charities of Oswego County is filled with fun and games for youth, it is a much different experience for AmeriCorps Members Kaylee May and Raquel Vescio.
The two are overseeing the CYO Summer Program and ensuring that the children are enjoying themselves and getting the most out of the program.
May, a native of Phoenix and a junior at SUNY Oswego majoring in public relations, learned of AmeriCorps through friends who had been in the program and from Kathy Lee who is actively involved with Phoenix area youth.
With her penchant for working with youth, the opportunity at CYO was a perfect fit.
“I love working with kids and I am enjoying the experience,” said May.
For Vescio, a senior at SUNY Oswego majoring in psychology and health and wellness, the chance to work with the CYO Summer Program gave her the opportunity to return to her roots.
“I grew up in Fulton. My brothers and I came to CYO everyday day after school. It’s exciting to now be a part of the program,” said Vescio.
May, who has worked with middle school students one on one through the Mentoring Scholar program at SUNY Oswego, and Vescio, who previously served as a coach with Fulton Youth Soccer, have found that their past experiences with youth are serving them well.
“I am enjoying working with the 10 and 11 year olds. It is a great age group. I am comfortable with them and feel I can provide them with valuable guidance,” said Vescio.
May added that the two have been busy creating and planning new activities and games.
“It can be a challenge to keep the kids interested. To do that we make sure there are a variety of things for them to do, including arts and crafts activities, indoor games, trips to the park, and community enhancement projects such as cleaning up the area around the Fulton War Memorial,” said May.
While this is the first year that May and Vescio have been AmeriCorps members they recognize the importance of the program and are considering the possibility of working with AmeriCorps in the future.
“AmeriCorps is not like a regular job, it’s a combination of working and volunteering. A nice opportunity to give back to your community and help yourself as well,” said Vescio.
“It is a good experience,” added May. “AmeriCorps provides you with the initiative to take charge and develop our leadership and decision making skills.”
A network of national service programs, AmeriCorps engages more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps members serve through more than 2,100 nonprofits, pubic agencies, and faith-based organizations.
The Oswego County AmeriCorps Program focuses on services for children and families.
Members mentor youth, plan and supervise nutrition education and fitness activities and manage volunteers.
This year, 64 AmeriCorps members will serve at schools, libraries, recreation programs and human service agencies throughout Oswego County.
As a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps is working together to build a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility in America.
The main goals of AmeriCorps are:
Getting things done and solving local issues
Strengthening society and uniting individuals
Expanding opportunities by gaining valuable experience, specialized training, and other important life skills.
AmeriCorps’ focus on encouraging responsibility is a perfect fit for Catholic Charities’ CYO program as CYO staff share the responsibility of overseeing the Summer Program.
Kathy Andolina, program coordinator of AmeriCorps in Oswego County is pleased to have members working with the Catholic Charities and recognizes the important impact that AmeriCorps has on Oswego County.
“For the past 16 years AmeriCorps members have provided a range of services for youth and families in Oswego County,” said Andolina. “It is a mutually rewarding experience as local agencies that serve youth benefit from having additional staff while AmeriCorps members benefit by receiving valuable experience and an education award that can be used to continue their education or pay off student loans.”
Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation.
Primary funding sources for Catholic Charities of Oswego County programs are the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Diocesan Hope Appeal, the County of Oswego, and private donations by individuals, local companies, and organizations.