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Program Spotlight: Building Communities, Bettering Lives

Host Organization: YWCA Central Alabama

BCBL AmeriCorps Program Staff: Joan Witherspoon-Norris- Senior Director of Social Justice, Angela Abdur-Rasheed- Director of AmeriCorps Program, Meghan Stull- Coordinator of AmeriCorps Program, and Kenyata Tate- AmeriCorps Administrator

Counties served: Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Blount

BCBL AmeriCorps Description: The YWCA’s Building Communities, Bettering Lives AmeriCorps program began in 2009 and is a nationally honored, award-winning program designed to harness the interests and talents of Americans with a passion for full-time national service in the local metro-Birmingham community. Those dedicated national service members help improve the programs and capacities of the YWCA along with 14 partnering nonprofit agencies, with a goal of bettering the lives of central Alabamians. The start of the 2019-2020 AmeriCorps program year marks the inclusion of more than 350 members who have served. Of those, more than 70 have been hired at the YWCA or with partner agencies after concluding AmeriCorps service.

Number of Members Serving: Forty-two (42) members serve annually.

Member Responsibilities: YWCA Building Communities, Bettering Lives AmeriCorps members devote more than 66,000 hours of service annually in areas like education, homelessness prevention and housing services, social justice initiatives, youth empowerment, community development, and healthy futures and families. Members engage in volunteer recruitment and training. They also receive a plethora of professional development and trainings to aid in their service and career development.

What the program hopes to accomplish at the end of the program year: Building on the success of previous AmeriCorps terms, the goals of the 2019-2020 term include: continuing to build capacity, providing meaningful and critical direct service to vulnerable populations, empowering AmeriCorps members for success while serving and in life after AmeriCorps and expanding the footprint of national service locally.

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