Genevieve Schmidt, AmeriCorps servicemember, meets with other members of AmeriCorps working in Juneau this year, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Genevieve Schmidt, AmeriCorps servicemember, meets with other members of AmeriCorps working in Juneau this year, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Come to help, stay for the community: Meet Juneau’s AmeriCorps volunteers

Seeing the country and lending a hand isn’t a bad way to spend a year.

Many people come to Alaska to see its landscapes and wildlife, but fewer come to help its people.

However, that’s just what this year’s eight AmeriCorps volunteers did.

“This kind of fell into my lap, and I thought living in Alaska would be a weird and interesting thing to do while still getting job experience,” said Maggie Dalrymple, an AmeriCorps volunteer working with United Way who previously attended college in Ohio. “It’s been really refreshing to see communities like this.”

AmeriCorps is a civilian service program that sends volunteers to work with nonprofit organizations across the United States. The servicemembers receive a small monthly stipend for food and housing while working without pay with the organizations they applied with to assist.

“It brings in new blood, ideas, energy,” Shari Paul, the AmeriCorps program manager for Juneau, said. “We try to put them in agencies that need that extra service support. We don’t replace an employee, we help organizations meet an unmet need.”

AmeriCorps servicemembers meet for a monthly meeting to discuss their work and a possible joint volunteer project, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

AmeriCorps servicemembers meet for a monthly meeting to discuss their work and a possible joint volunteer project, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

This year, there were eight AmeriCorps positions in Juneau, filled by AmeriCorps servicemembers. Next year, Paul said she hopes to have 12 positions for servicemembers. She’s currently meeting with other local interested organizations, seeing if they’d be interested in making the commitment and if they’d be a good fit with AmeriCorps.

The eight local organizations currently partnered with AmeriCorps, or that have participated in the past, are: Association for the Education of Young Children, Zach Gordon Youth Center, Harborview Elementary School, Housing First, AWARE, SERRC, the Office of Children’s Services and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé CHOICE program in conjunction with United Way.

“I’d done a lot of work with food banks and food justice in Detroit, and I wanted to see what else there was,” said Genevieve Schmidt, an AmeriCorps servicemember working with the Learning Connection. “I wanted something, and I wanted an adventure. I’d lived in Detroit my whole life.”

After interviewing with both Paul and their prospective organization, AmeriCorps members are accepted to the program. Servicemembers come from across the country to fill the more than 180 positions in Alaska, fulfilling a 1,700-hour obligation to their hosting organization. That works out to about 42 40-hour weeks. Members arrive in Juneau around mid-August each year to mesh up with the school year, Paul said.

Maggie Dalrymple, AmeriCorps servicemember, meets with other members of AmeriCorps working in Juneau this year, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Maggie Dalrymple, AmeriCorps servicemember, meets with other members of AmeriCorps working in Juneau this year, Jan. 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

“I love it. I’m already thinking about making plans to stay longer,” Dalrymple said. “It’s so beautiful here. I love the community here. I feel like the community is taking good care of us here.”

Most of the servicemembers this year are working in small organizations. Paul said the fresh energy these members bring to the organization, and the experience working in the real world that the organizations can offer, makes it a win-win scenario for everyone involved. Paul mentioned at least one servicemember was considering doing a second year with AmeriCorps in Juneau. Servicemembers can work for a maximum of two years.

“The AmeriCorps are appreciative of the welcoming environment here and that’s really helpful for keeping servicemembers here,” Paul said.

The servicemembers are currently working on developing a plan to provide healthy activities for children from elementary through high school, including games, crafts and homework help, Dalrymple said. Previous projects have included volunteering for United Way’s Day of Caring, assembling furniture at a childcare center, and baking cookies for first responders for 9/11.

Interested in joining AmeriCorps?

Paul will be hosting a booth at the University of Alaska Southeast job fair on Feb. 11, for those interested in more information about the AmeriCorps organization.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s crisis stabilization center during its unveiling on June 14, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital shuts down programs at recently opened Aurora Behavioral Health Center

Crisis stabalization program halted at center due to lack of funds and staff, officials say.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, July 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, July 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read