CYO Welcomes AmeriCorps Members

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</p>Jim Smiley, coordinator of Catholic Charities' CYO Program, welcomes AmeriCorps members Margaret (l) and Marissa Thorpe (c) to the staff of the CYO.  The two have been planning and coordinating the CYO's Summer Program.
Jim Smiley, coordinator of Catholic Charities' CYO Program, welcomes AmeriCorps members Margaret (l) and Marissa Thorpe (c) to the staff of the CYO. The two have been planning and coordinating the CYO's Summer Program.

Jim Smiley, coordinator of the CYO program at Catholic Charities of Oswego County has announced that AmeriCorps Members, Margaret and Marissa Thorpe have joined the staff of Catholic Charities’ CYO program.

While both Margaret and her twin sister Marissa are very familiar with the CYO Program this is their first year as AmeriCoprs workers.  The two are excited about the program and the responsibilities that being an AmeriCorps worker brings with it.  “I love the CYO Summer Program,” said Margaret.  “I am happy to have the added responsibility and am enjoying working with the children.”

The two are responsible for planning activities and events for the children in the program and ensuring that all participants have an enjoyable time.  “In addition to the regular activities that the program offers we have planned a number of special theme days for the children to enjoy,” said Margaret.  “Each theme day has a variety of games and activities that reflect the theme for the day.”

Graduates of G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, the sisters will be attending SUNY Oswego in the fall with Margaret pursing a degree in secondary education and Marissa studying biological sciences as she prepares for a career as a pediatrician.  They agree that their experience with AmeriCorps and their work in the CYO program will be beneficial to their future plans.

“CYO is a great program.  I remember coming here when I was younger and how much fun it was,” said Margaret.  “It’s great place to meet new friends and experience new things.  It also provides the children with a safe environment and something fun to do during the summer months.”  Marissa echoed her sister’s thoughts and cited the program’s accessibility as one of its most appealing features.  “I like that the CYO program is open to all children.  They learn how to make healthy decisions, meet new friends and have lots of fun,” she added.

When Margaret and her sister Marissa learned of the opportunity to become AmeriCorps members and work for the CYO they jumped at the chance.  “I love working with the kids and the AmeriCorps education award made it even more appealing,” said Margaret.  “Being an AmeriCorps member is more than just having a job, it’s helping our community and providing me with valuable experience that will benefit me in the future.  I just love the children at the CYO program.  Every time I come in I just fall in love with them, you feel like they are family and you enjoy doing things for them.”

For Marissa, her love of children and her experience working with special education students in school also encouraged her to join AmeriCorps and work at the CYO.  “I adore children and enjoy working with them.  There is nothing more rewarding than helping others and making their lives as comfortable and as fulfilling as possible.  Children are our future; by helping them we are also helping ourselves.  That’s why I wish to become a pediatrician and hopefully open a practice right here in Fulton,” she said.

As AmeriCorps members, Margaret and Marissa are required to do a community outreach project.  Their choices reflect their love of children and their willingness to help others.

Margaret will be conducting a baby necessities drive to help collect items for teen parents.  “I will be collecting diapers and other baby necessities that will be donated to teen parents in our area.  I am currently collecting baby items at the Fulton CYO, 365 West First Street in Fulton, Monday through Friday from 8a to 4p and will soon be accepting donations at area stores as well,” said Margaret.

Marissa’s project will help put a smile on the face of the residents of the Michaud Nursing Home in Fulton.  “I will be working with the CYO children to design greeting cards for the residents at Michaud.  Since many of the residents do not have family to visit them on a regular basis the greeting cards, which will be personally delivered by the children, and myself should be a real treat for the residents.  It’s heartwarming to see the smiles on the residents’ faces when we visit.  I especially enjoy visiting the residents who are veterans; it’s nice to honor those who fought for our country.  It is a wonderful intergenerational experience that both the children and the residents enjoy,” explained Marissa.

“It’s a pleasure to have Margaret and Marissa on our staff,” said Smiley.  “They enjoy what they do and truly care about making sure that the children enjoy our summer program.  We are fortunate that we have such a good relationship with the AmeriCorps program.  It is a great program that benefits both the students and the organizations that utilize the 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 out of school activities and manage volunteers.  This year 39 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, together with the USA Freedom Corps 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 Margaret and Marissa working with the CYO Summer Program and recognizes the important impact that AmeriCorps has on Oswego County.

“For the past 12 years AmeriCorps members have provided a range of services for youth and families in Oswego County,” said Ms. 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 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 contact Jim Smiley, CYO Director at 598-3980.

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 and local companies and organizations.