By Ayesha K. Mustafaa
As many students march off to relax during spring break, other high school and college students joined VolunteerMississippi as it hosted AmeriCorp alumni and current members at the State Capitol, Tuesday, March 12, to share their stories of service to others.
VolunteerMississippi executive director W. David Mallery was joined by Sen. Hillman Frazier (D) to discuss the valuable on-the-job experience AmeriCorps Works members receive, as they “fill unmet needs in Mississippi communities,” explained Mallery.
According to VolunteerMississippi data, its programs and volunteer center network “engaged 77,555 volunteers serving 231,625 hours, an estimated value of $5,047,108.75.”
Sharron Jackson has been with AmeriCorp for two years and both years served as a team leader and was honored as last year’s Member of the Year for AmeriCorp.
As she learned about the benefits in educational awards and stipends that members receive from AmeriCorp, Jackson said she was ready to sign up. “I wanted to go back to school and pay off student loans. But after seeing the benefit to the children I tutored, I stayed on for them,” Jackson said.
Jackson explained that this was her last year in AmeriCorp. “I will have 1,700 hours completed in May although I will serve until July of this year,” she said. “I am currently enrolled at Jackson State University as an elementary education major and I’ve been offered a job already at the school where I serve.”
When asked what AmeriCorp did for her personally, Jackson said, “It gave me a sense of pride in myself, motivation to make a change in my life and also to be a change in the lives of someone else.”
The hands on
experience has reaffirmed for her the desire to teach. “Tutoring every day, I get to see what is really going on in our educational system and what children actually need,” said Jackson.
“I try to keep the students motivated about learning. It is so easy for them to get distracted by all the little things that are going on in the world.”
She advises her students, “I want them to know that they are not going to be a child forever. And one day, as an adult, they will be the person making the changes. So they have to start now; start how you are going to finish.”
Joining her at the State Capitol were AmeriCorp high school student members Kimberly Gilmore and Morgan Alexander, both seniors at Jim Hill High School; Taylor Brown, a senior at Taylor High School; and Sierra Mosley, a senior at Murrah High School.
For more information about VolunteerMississippi, visit www.VolunteerMississippi.org. For more information about AmeriCorps programs, visit www.NationalService.gov.