JVS Celebrates 2012 Literacy*AmeriCorps Members

July 27, 2012--

JVS bid a fond farewell to the 16 members of its 2012 Literacy*AmeriCorps partnership program Friday, thanking them for their contributions toward helping Southern Californians strengthen their literacy and job readiness skills.

At a lunch and certification ceremony in their honor Friday, JVS recognized the contributions of these devoted Literacy*AmeriCorps members, some of whom have been hired by the nonprofit agencies they have worked for over the past year.

“It’s been wonderful,” said AmeriCorps Member Regina Sims who served as Literacy Coordinator at St. Margaret’s Center. “They’re like a family and they’ve been very kind to me. So I’m going to miss it terribly.”

“I discovered through my time at HubCities and through AmeriCorps and JVS that I really do have a passion for working with young people,” added R.J. Toledo who worked as a youth case manager at the Huntington Park-basked WorkSource Center. “And I found that teaching is a passion of mine.”

In addition to Sims and Toledo, the 2011-12 Literacy AmeriCorps members are Briana Brambila, Nerina Brautigam, Carina Garcia, Maureen Guerrero, Josefina Islas, Sky Kory, Kenari Lee, Fiona Manzella, David Milian, Mariel Ross, Claudia Sandoval, Sandra Santos, Elizabeth Schaefer and Melissa Wordelman.

The 16 AmeriCorps members ranged in age from 19 to 62. All of them were college graduates and two had operated their own small businesses prior to their work with AmeriCorps. Their participation in the program required a commitment of 1,700 hours over the past 11 months. They were paid $12,100 and an additional $5,550 toward their educational costs upon completion of the program.

Literacy*AmeriCorps members tutored adult learners in basic skills and English as a Second Language, provided work-readiness services to under and/or unemployed individuals, and recruited and managed community volunteers. Members also participated in community service projects, as well as in personal and professional development trainings.

At their assignments at such nonprofits as Chrysalis, HubCities WorkSource Center, St. Margaret’s Center, International Trade Education Programs, Centro Latino for Literacy, Bresee Foundation, and JVS, the 16 members have served more than 1,531 adults, 403 youth and recruited 337 volunteers.

“Each of the agencies at which our members worked served a unique population, tackled the issues at hand in a unique manner, and therefore tracked outcomes uniquely,” said Alison Lewis, JVS Literacy Program Manager. “Uniformity was not the operative word, but success was.”

“The AmeriCorps members are caring, intelligent and giving. They understand and they learn,” said Margie Zepeda, Site Supervisor at Chrysalis. “My experience with AmeriCorps has been nothing but the best.”

JVS was the coordinating site for the Los Angeles branch of Literacy*AmeriCorps for the past two years. A change in funding priorities has caused the national arm of Literacy AmeriCorps to discontinue the program, but JVS will continue its successful Literacy Tutor Program in partnership with adult schools in Los Angeles Unified, Santa Monica, Malibu and Beverly Hills school districts.

JVS launched the Volunteer Literacy Tutoring program with a $10,000 grant from the office of District Three County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Through the program, which was spearheaded by AmeriCorps member Nerina Brautigam, JVS has trained and placed 24 volunteers in 14 campuses spread out across nine adult school campuses and one JVS office. In that time, the volunteers have logged 524 hours and served more than 646 students.

The 2012-13 Volunteer Literacy Tutor program will be made possible through a $25,000 grant from the Green Foundation.