2005 Corpsmember of the Year: Diony Gamoso

***Update! Click here to find out what Diony has been up to since accepting his award.***

Diony Gamoso started at Marin Conservation Corps (now Conservation Corps North Bay) as a Crew Leader on the Natural Resources Crew. He came to MCC with a variety of technical skills and was looking for opportunities to expand his abilities to include education skills.  He immediately demonstrated a thirst for learning, interest in the projects, compassion for the corpsmembers, and a genuine interest in contributing to MCC.  As the supervisor of a Project Regeneration Crew, Diony led high school aged students in conservation projects.  Recently, he was promoted to the position of Education Department Assistant where he has supported the Education Program by planning and facilitating place-based field education lessons and has been helping his fellow corpsmembers make progress towards earning their high school diplomas.  Diony has also taken on a variety of new tasks and projects which have been very beneficial to MCC. 

-- “The Marin Conservation Corps has given me so much opportunity to grow personally and professionally.  I have been given a chance right here and now, to explore what I thought were only far-off, future, career dreams.”

(written in 2005)

2005 Corpsmember of the Year: Kayje Booker

***Update! Click here to find out what Kayje's been up to since accepting her award.***

Joining the Washington Service CorpsAmeriCorps program changed Kayje Booker’s life.  In the year before, she was working a variety of jobs, mostly in the food industry, and feeling generally dissatisfied and directionless in her work life.  In her first year of AmeriCorps, Kayje had the task of co-creating an after-school program for academically challenged kindergarten through sixth graders, in which she facilitated a civic engagement course.  The following year she implemented a civic engagement curriculum with 500 AmeriCorps members across the state of Washington and assisted Abt Associates with their evaluation of Washington Service Corps.  Underway this year is a complicated project she is developing which includes the creation of a ‘Homes for Service’ initiative in Washington. 

-- "Serving others is now and will forever be a non-negotiable part of my life.  However I spend my days, I must be able to come home at the end and know that my hours accomplished something that made the world a little better for someone else.”  

(written in 2005)

2006 Corpsmember of the Year: Charley Kakel

The youth of New Mexico are thankful for Winston Churchill. It was Churchill's comment that swayed Baltimore resident Charley Kakel to start a whole new existence in New Mexico. 

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give," said Churchill. 

These words, along with Charley's personal resolutin to give of himself, helped send him to Taos, New Mexico. Charley soon realized his passion for teaching and attended Goucher College to study the social sciences and improve his teaching skills, and later found himself back in New Mexico and working for the  Rocky Mountain Youth Corps's Service Learning Program as an AmeriCorps member. Charley worked daily with over 200 youth in their academic and personal lives.

With any spare time he had, Charley would travel across New Mexico and spread the inspiring message to any youth he could find. He loves the youth of Taos and wrote and received a grant for improving the middle school's baseball field. Charley now works with RMYC - After School Tutoring Program where he will be helping ten at-risk youths. Charley plans to continue his close relationship to the people of Taos by teaching at the middle school.

Charley reflects on his journey, stating it "has proven that I am capable of being a leader in making positive change happen." Churchill may have been Charley's inspiration for becoming a teacher, but Charley has inspired the children of Taos to care for each other, to become active in their communities, and to make lives for themselves by what they give. 

(written in 2006)

2007 Corpsmember of the Year: Alana Svensen

***Update! Click here to find out what Alana has been up to since accepting her award.***

As a Corpsmember with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), Alana helped coordinate the first rotation of 600 NCCC members to the Gulf Coast in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In other NCCC rotations in the Northeast Region, Alana framed homes with Habitat for Humanity, helped with education programs in Maryland and the Bronx and became a Certified Wild Land Firefighter in upstate New York.

Unsure what she wanted to to do when she graduate college in 2003, Alana joined the Corps to "give back to society." During her time deployed at the Red Cross staging area in the Gulf Coast, teaching children in the education programs, and building trails and homes, Alana feels she learned a lot about other people but even more about herself and what she can do. She plans to use her newly discovered logistical and building skills, as well as the insights she has gained, to continue to serve through a nonprofit or government agency. 

2009 Corpsmember of the Year: Meg Zaleuke


Meg first heard about AmeriCorps NCCC (AmeriCorps National Civilian Corps) as she was finishing up her Masters degree and trying to figure out what the next step in her life would be. Instead of becoming a Child Life Specialist, Meg decided to take a different path by joining AmeriCorps NCCC. Her year was filled difficult tasks: educating the youth, rebuilding homes, restoring cities devastated by hurricanes and working to preserve Maine's natural beauty.

Today Meg knows she is the not same person she was when she joined  the Corps.

“We are now different people; taking different roads and pursing new dreams because of our experience in AmeriCorps NCCC," said Meg. "It is likely that in 10, 20, 30 years to come, when we have long been out of the ‘Ameri-bubble,' our stories will begin with our AmeriCorps NCCC year; the year that changed our lives.”  

As Meg finished her time with AmeriCorps NCCC, she took with her, “…The sense of camaraderie [she] shared with her fellow Team Leaders and team, the enthusiasm and determination [she] saw in the elementary school children she tutored and the courage and resilience [she] observed in the communities along the gulf coast..”

Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Thriving, Plans to Double Enrollment


 

Oconaluftee Jobs Corps Fall graduates. Photo by Holly Krake.

 

This article was written by Scott McKie and originally published in the Cherokee One Feather.  Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center is a member of The Corps Network.

Three years after the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (OJCCC) almost had its doors closed for good, the Center is thriving. “It is ranked 36th out of 122 Job Corps Centers nationwide,” Danny Muse, OJCCC academic manager, told the members of the Job Corps Community Relations Council at a meeting held at the Center on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Muse, an employee at OJCCC since 1976, said they also rank 7th in literacy, 3rd in numeracy and 3rd in graduate placement. Since June, 18 students have received their GED.

“This is a stepping stone for them,” said Muse, “and we’re working very diligently to help them get there.”

The Community Relations Council was formed in June as a way to garner community and regional support for the students and their needs. Information from the Council states the ideals of the group includes: creation of sustainable vision and goals, development and strengthening of partnerships, address local needs while fostering employment and lifelong skills in students and designing a culture of commitment and stewardship.

Holly Krake, OJCCC business community liaison, related that there are currently 68 students enrolled at the Center and they performed a total of 13,270 work-based learning hours this year. “Based on common wages, that would total over $240,000 of labor hours that students have put into the community.”

She said OJCCC students have volunteered at numerous area businesses, organizations and events including: Far West Special Olympics hosted in Cherokee, EBCI Dora Reed Childcare Center, “Meet Me in the Smokie” Open Charity Golf event, EBCI Fisheries and Wildlife, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, and more.

OJCCC has plans to expand in 2011 by doubling their enrollment and adding four next programs, sponsored by the Home Builder’s Institute, including: Carpentry, Electrical, Facilities Maintenance, and HVAC.

Krake said the volunteer and career opportunities all help tremendously with the development of students. “All of those are reasons that students get vested into the program and dedicate themselves to finish.”

For information on the Community Relations Council or to find out how your business or organization can partner with OJCCC, contact Holly Krake 497-8062.