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CYO Welcomes AmeriCorps Members

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Fulton, NY – Stacie Roberts, coordinator of the CYO program at Catholic Charities of Oswego County, has announced that AmeriCorps Members, Max Fobes and Melissa DeStevens-Valenzuela have joined the staff of Catholic Charities’ CYO program.

AmeriCorps members Melissa DeStevens-Valenzuela (left) and Max Fobes are part of the staff for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s CYO Summer Drop-In Recreation program.  The two are involved in the planning and supervision of the program’s many events and activities. Seated in front are CYO participants Riley Reynolds, Marisa Wallace and Gracie Dempsey.
AmeriCorps members Melissa DeStevens-Valenzuela (left) and Max Fobes are part of the staff for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s CYO Summer Drop-In Recreation program. The two are involved in the planning and supervision of the program’s many events and activities. Seated in front are CYO participants Riley Reynolds, Marisa Wallace and Gracie Dempsey.

The two are responsible for planning activities and events for the CYO Summer Drop-in Recreation program and ensuring that all participants have an enjoyable time.

Fobes, a sophomore at Ithaca College pursuing a degree in engineering with a minor in biology, heard about AmeriCorps through friends of his who had previously been a part of the program.  When he discovered that an AmeriCorps membership would allow him the opportunity to earn an education award and work with Catholic Charities’ CYO program he was eager to get started.

“Growing up in Fulton I remember well the time that I spent at CYO,” said Fobes.  “CYO is a great program.  It’s important to have a place where young people can go to enjoy themselves and have fun in a safe environment.  AmeriCorps has given me an opportunity to give back to my community by helping our youth and I am enjoying it.”

DeStevens-Valenzuela, an art teacher at Fitzhugh Park Elementary School in Oswego, has been associated with AmeriCorps for the past 10 years.

She was first introduced to AmeriCorps when she was a teenager and would visit the drop-in youth center in Hannibal.  She became an AmeriCorps member after college and eventually worked for AmeriCorps as an office assistant.

Currently DeStevens-Valenzuela serves as a board member.

“AmeriCorps is an excellent program. I remember how important the drop-in center was in my life. I not only attended the center, I was a part of the committee that established it,” said DeStevens-Valenzuela.

Once introduced to this year’s CYO Summer Drop-In Recreation program the two were impressed with the scope of the program that in addition to games, activities, and outings to area parks and the Fulton YMCA for swimming, includes a number of special presentations and educational opportunities.

“The CYO Summer Drop-In Recreation program is wonderful. It provides area youth with a safe recreation option during the summer months. The educational aspects are also a real benefit as well,” said DeStevens-Valenzuela.

As part of their AmeriCorps responsibilities, members are required to conduct a community involvement project, for Fobes the chance to do something for his community was something he looked forward to.

“I wanted to make a visible impact on our community,” said Fobes. “I recruited friends and family members and spent hours cleaning the area surrounding Lake Neatahwanta. It was rewarding to know that I was doing something for my community and I look forward to doing more in the future.”

For DeStevens-Valenzuela, she envisioned her art skills as the perfect tool for her project.

“After seeing the murals on the CYO walls that previous AmeriCorps members and CYO participants painted I thought it would be a nice idea to have a mural in the waiting room outside Catholic Charities’ main office. With the theme, Together We Can Do Beautiful Things, I am working on a mural that will provide those in the waiting room with a positive reinforcement that they are indeed in the right place for support and resources,” said DeStevens-Valenzuela.

Additional, DeStevens-Valenzuela said that she is working on a coupon drive to collect coupons for use by clients of Catholic Charities’ food pantry.  She will also be organizing the coupons in an orderly fashion and teaching clients how to use coupons effectively.

“It’s a pleasure to have Max and Melissa as part of our staff this summer,” added Roberts.  “They enjoy what they do and truly care about making sure that the children enjoy our summer drop-in program.  We are fortunate that we have such a good relationship with the AmeriCorps program.  It’s wonderful that the program that benefits both the students and the organizations that utilize AmeriCorps members.”

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that 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 63 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
Encouraging responsibility
Expanding opportunities by gaining valuable experiences, specialized training, and other important life skills.

AmeriCorps’ focus on services for children is a perfect fit for Catholic Charities’ CYO Summer Program that provides recreational and educational opportunities to dozens of children in our community.

Kathy Andolina, program coordinator of AmeriCorps in Oswego County is pleased to have Max and Melissa working with the CYO Summer Drop-In Program and recognizes the important impact that AmeriCorps has on Oswego County.

“For the past 15 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.”

The CYO Summer Drop-in Recreation program is funded in part by the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the NYS Office of Children and Families, and the City-County Youth Bureau of Oswego County.

For more information on the program, call Roberts, at 315-598-3980 ext 254.

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.