VALPARAISO | The PCACS’ latest AmeriCorps program member is diving in to help with the Energy Assistance Program.
Tracy Childers is helping the program run more smoothly by helping the EAP program staff and volunteers with administrative tasks including mailings, filing and paperwork.
Childers said she is happy to be giving back and working with the community after receiving assistance as a single mom.
“I received a lot of help when my kids were younger and I wanted to give that back to the community. I was helped out a lot when I needed it,” she said. “I love what I’m doing every minute.
“You always think you have it bad … but then you realize someone else has it worse and you are grateful things are how they are.”
The AmeriCorps program is coordinated by the United Way of Porter County through a grant from the office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
It offers opportunities for individuals to work with area organizations and schools to impact the community and develop skills through new experiences.
Members can work full or part time and may receive a modest living allowance while serving. Upon completion, they can earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which pays for college or graduate school or to pay back qualified student loans.
The program currently has 26 members in Lake, Porter, La Porte and Marshall counties.
Program Director Deb Townsend said it provides non-profits and schools the ability to serve along avenues that may have been restricted due to fiscal challenges and staff commitments.
“Members provide capacity-building activities such as recruiting, training and managing volunteers and updating and managing social media, they are K-12 tutors and are career advisors to high school students,” she said.
“Our agency has been involved for four years and we are fortunate to have additional staff members when we really need them during the energy assistance season,” said PCACS Executive Director Bruce Lindner.
Applications are still being accepted for the AmeriCorps program. Requirements include: 18 years of age, high school diploma, U.S. citizen and no criminal record.
Apply online at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=51971&fromSearch=true
For more information on the program or to become involved, visit www.unitedwaypc.org/americorps.