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September 22, 2018

AmeriCorps Members Making A Difference In Oswego County


Jennifer Deeb paints the front railing at the Human Concerns Center.

Jennifer Deeb paints the front railing at the Human Concerns Center.

OSWEGO, NY – AmeriCorps’ motto is “Getting Things Done in Oswego County.”

Just recently, one of those things was refurbishing and painting the porch and deck at the Oswego Human Concerns Center on East Fourth Street.

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that meet critical needs in education, the environment, public safety, homeland security and other areas.

Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups.

“I think we’re at 39 members right now,” said Kathy Andolina, Oswego County AmeriCorps director.

AmeriCorps workers were busy recently setting up displays at their sites in observance of AmeriCorps Week. In Oswego, displays were set up at the Public Library, Leighton and Housing Visions (Hamilton Homes), Andolina said.

They had tried to do the painting project at Human Concerns at week earlier, just before AmeriCorps Week started. However, the inclement weather forced them to postpone the work until the end of the week.

“Our program focuses on projects within the community that provide a direct service to children and families,” Andolina said. “Around the country, you might find AmeriCorps programs that focus on environment issues, housing issues or other concerns.”

Matthew MacVittie, was one of the nearly one dozen AmeriCorps workers who turned out to help at the Human Concerns Center.

“We are doing what we can to help out the Human Concerns Center,” he said. “I thought this might take a long time but we have a lot of people who came to help. So it should just take a couple hours, maybe.”

“A lot of the people who volunteer here are elderly,” pointed out Deborah Deeb, Human Concerns director. “This is the kind of work that they wouldn’t have been able to do on their own. We’re not expecting the 70 and 80 year olds to do this sort of work. We really appreciate AmeriCorps for stepping up to help.”

They were supposed to do it May 8 but it had rained too hard, she said.

“So, we switched it for today, which worked out great because more people could come,” Deeb added.

They painted the inside last spring and it was time to touch up the exterior this year, she noted.

AmeriCorps worker Matthew MacVittie paints the ramp on the side of the Human Concerns Center.

AmeriCorps worker Matthew MacVittie paints the ramp on the side of the Human Concerns Center.

“If not for AmeriCorps, I’d have probably done this with maybe one other person,” Deeb said. “It’s great that there are this many people. It makes things so much easier.”

People in general have been wonderful in helping the center, whether it’s money, food or work, she added.

“We’re very lucky, very lucky with all the support we receive,” she said.

The center received some additional funding through FEMA through the United Way this year.

That has helped with the increased demand for services.

The Food Bank has also been very generous, she said.

“Every month, six weeks, we order food. We pay for that food, but they also give us monies and bunches of free food,” she said. “Last year we got 52,000 pounds of food through the Food Bank.”

“I’d say right now, we’re not struggling. But that’s not to say we could be just a week or two down the line,” Deeb continued. “2006 and 2007 were tough years and we had to cut back a little. The last three years have been pretty good. And, this year, we were able to join the United Way.”

In Fulton, AmeriCorps members with Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s CYO Program, Paul Burgess and Teresa Litchison, helped celebrate AmeriCorps Week with a special project relating to their worksite.

AmeriCorps members throughout the county created tri-fold display boards that contained detailed information on their worksite, the responsibilities of their position, and the Oswego County AmeriCorps program.

Their display highlighted the many programs and activities offered through the CYO Programs and showcased the variety of responsibilities they have as they work with students at the CYO.

AmeriCorps workers Paul Burgess and Teresa Litchison with Catholic Charities’ CYO Program, stand by their display board that they created as part of AmeriCorps Week.

AmeriCorps workers Paul Burgess and Teresa Litchison with Catholic Charities’ CYO Program, stand by their display board that they created as part of AmeriCorps Week.

CYO director Jim Smiley praised the two for their work on the project and their dedication to the CYO.

“Paul and Teresa did a great job in capturing the essence of what our CYO program offers area youth and the many ways in which this program benefits those who chose to participate,” he said. “We are fortunate that we have such a good relationship with the AmeriCorps program as it is a great program that benefits both the students and the organizations that utilize the AmeriCorps members.”

The Oswego AmeriCorps program serves county youth by providing mentoring, out of school activities and management of volunteers who work with youth.

“For the past 13 years AmeriCorps members have provided a range of services for youth and families in Oswego County,” said Andolina. “It is a mutually rewarding experience.”

For additional information, visit www.americorps.org or call Andolina at 349-3451.

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