LOCAL VOLUNTEERS’ WORK FEATURED FOR AMERICORPS WEEK
To honor National AmeriCorps week, May 14 through the 21, your local AmeriCorps members, Donna Leinus, Jen O’Neal, Blaire Buergler, Derek Partridge and Jessica Johnson want to share with you their experience with national service in Clatsop County.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities. AmeriCorps is made up of three programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).
Locally AmeriCorps members fill needed gaps in our community.
Donna is a second year AmeriCorps member with the Marine Education and Volunteer Coordinator with the City of Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock Awareness Program. She serves as a Rocky Shore Interpreter on the beach during low tides for the general public and visiting school groups. She coordinates visiting school groups and visits local school classrooms to share information before their field trip.
Last year, her main project was creating a short educational film that targeted visiting school groups that the program could not visit in person, to give students some information before heading to the beach. She also works to increase the volunteer base for the program, plan community events, train new volunteers, and support the ongoing education of current volunteers.
In her first year with AmeriCorps, Jen O’Neal is our local American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Specialist. She teaches Red Cross Health and Safety classes, which include the CPR/AED, First Aid, and Babysitter training. She also teaches the ALERT (Awareness Learning & Emergency Response Training) programs to area youth. On top of this, she gives free emergency preparedness presentations to community groups and works at many of the local blood drives.
Blaire Buergler serves as the downtown coordinator for the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), a non-profit organization that is part of the Oregon Main Street Program. She is part of the RARE Program (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments), an AmeriCorps program that is administered through the University of Oregon’s Community Service Center.
Blaire is focusing on building ADHDA’s capacity and is working to facilitate the Main Street Program’s proven comprehensive approach to revitalizing commercial historic districts. Specifically, she is inventorying all downtown properties in the area, developing a comprehensive database of organization stakeholders, coordinating and facilitating downtown promotional events, researching sustainable funding models, and populating a website for the organization. Blaire is a graduate of Virginia Tech and moved to Astoria from Arlington, Virginia.
AmeriCorps member Derek Partridge is funded by the Warrenton Trails Association (WTA) and the City of Warrenton through the University of Oregon’s Community Service Center. He is part of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments program, and is placed for the year in Warrenton. He is coordinating parks and trails projects with the City’s Public Works Department, WTA, and Parks Advisory Board. Currently, Partridge is leading an effort to revitalize the Warrenton City Park, including construction of a new restroom facility, with help from the National Guard, community volunteers, and City leaders.
Seaside High School alumna Jessica Johnson is in her second year with the AmeriCorps HOPE (Healthy Options through Prevention and Education) program serving Clatsop County through the Clatsop County Juvenile Department’s Substance Abuse Prevention Programs. Her position, matched locally by the Commission on Children and Families, United Way, OSU Extension and Kiwanis, takes her to many of the county’s school districts as the Friendly PEERsuasion and Allies in Action afterschool program instructor. She also helps to co-facilitate the Strengthening Families Program 10-14, Safe Dates curriculum in partnership with Women’s Resource Center and works with groups of local youth to take action to reduce underage drinking and drug use.
AmeriCorps is the chance to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of those around you. Members who complete their entire term of service are awarded the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. To search for a national service opportunity that fits your desired location and interests, visit http://www.americorps.gov/.
Community Relations Coordinator