This year marks monumental milestones for both the national AmeriCorps program and Michigan Primary Care Association’s AmeriCorps program. Twenty years ago the AmeriCorps program was established to provide a cost-effective solution to America’s toughest problems through service. Ten years later, Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) launched its AmeriCorps program to help improve health and save lives one person at a time, one community at a time, right here in our own state.
Since AmeriCorps’ inception, more than 820,000 people have taken the AmeriCorps pledge to serve their community, build their capacity, and impact the nation. Together they have served a total of 1 billion hours to improve lives, and managed or mobilized 4 million community volunteers.
Over the past decade, through MPCA’s AmeriCorps program, 181 members have spent nearly 245,000 hours providing direct service to more than 71,100 individuals at over 50 locations throughout Michigan.
AmeriCorps members have a tremendous impact on the nonprofit organizations in which they serve, including Health Centers and other community-based organizations, schools, and public agencies. Since 1994, members have helped 15,000 nonprofits expand their services, build capacity, raise funds, develop new community partnerships, and create innovative, sustainable programs. In a nutshell, they have been “getting things done.”
“As part of MPCA’s AmeriCorps program, each member serves a one-year term at one of our partner sites across the state in order to improve the health of Michigan residents,” said John Taylor, MPCA’s AmeriCorps Program Director. “By helping individuals find their way through the complex health care system, MPCA AmeriCorps members are connecting underserved and uninsured residents of our state with primary and preventive care and programs that will help them live healthier lives.”
AmeriCorps does more than simply benefit communities and organizations, however. It also expands education and economic opportunities for its members, and helps them develop skills for success in the workforce. Thirty-four percent of MPCA AmeriCorps members have gained employment that they directly attribute to their AmeriCorps term of service, with several continuing their education to earn advanced degrees.
“Volunteering through MPCA’s AmeriCorps program gave me an opportunity to use my skill set and love for community service in a really unique way,” said Natasha Robinson, an AmeriCorps alum who is now an outreach, education, and enrollment program specialist at MPCA. “I was able to transition from being an AmeriCorps member to being a full-time staff member at MPCA, and it has allowed me to mentor, train and engage new AmeriCorps members. The opportunity for growth and learning new skills is tremendous, and the staff at MPCA does everything in their power to make sure the members have a fruitful experience. I didn’t imagine that I’d still be around and assisting communities across the entire state when I began this journey three years ago.”
Currently, 20 MPCA AmeriCorps members are serving at 11 organizations across the state, including 7 Health Centers. Starting this month, 20 new members will begin serving at 11 Michigan Health Centers, with an additional 20 members to begin serving at a later date.
Please help us celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of the AmeriCorps program across the country and right here in our own backyard. It’s exciting to envision what impact the next chapter of the program will have on lives, communities, and the nation as a whole.