Members of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s Jumpstart Arkansas, an AmeriCorps national service program funded by EngageAR, participated in National AmeriCorps Week March 7-13 by serving the Fort Smith community through a variety of volunteer projects.
The UAFS student members were also joined by School of Education faculty in packing snack bags for the backpack program at Community Clearing House; creating and delivering flyers for Heart to Heart Pregnancy Center; and serving dinner for residents at Community Rescue Mission.
“The focus of AmeriCorps Week is to promote and make national service more visible throughout our campus and community,” said Kimberly Taylor, coordinator for UAFS Jumpstart. “Our goal through service projects is to allow members to become acquainted with area non-profits of which they might not already be aware. These will be a resource they can personally turn to in the future, volunteer at, or refer others to.”
Taylor also added that, as a result of these projects, Jumpstart members were inspired to return for more service opportunities in the future.
AmeriCorps Week is all about national service. This year EngageAR is celebrating national service members through their “Faces of Service” social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram. Follow along during AmeriCorps week using the hashtag #FacesOfServiceAR.
Tuesday, March 9, members served at the Community Clearing House in Fort Smith which works with local schools and community agencies to address food insecurity in the River Valley. All nine members joined the Dr. Monica Riley, Dr. Shelli Henehan, Laura Harper and Catherine Brantley. We packed 480 snack bags for the backpack program which provides meals to low-income children who struggle with food insecurity over weekends.
Wednesday, March 10, members created flyers about the benefits of reading to prenatal infants and delivered them to the Heart to Heart Pregnancy Center. This was an extension of the Jumpstart program’s focus on improving language and literacy skills for children in the River Valley and served to educate mothers of the benefits of early reading. The center staff gave members a tour of the facility, which provides families with a clothes closet for expecting mothers and children up to the age of three, monthly assistance with diapers, formula, and other essentials, and parenting classes. UAFS faculty and staff Michael, Laura Harper and Catherine Brantley joined Jumpstart members on this trip.
On Friday, March 12, members concluded their service week serving dinner at the Community Rescue Mission. Members were able to play with the children who were living at the shelter and hear about the stories of the single mothers and families supported by the program.
The week-long celebration was sponsored by EngageAR, which has invested $6,305 in seven service projects across the state for this year’s AmeriCorps Week celebration. Project focus areas range from addressing food insecurity, partnering with municipal leaders, getting communities involved in serving their neighbors and supporting essential workers.
The mission of EngageAR is to foster a culture of service to strengthen communities and solve local problems. In addition to managing the State AmeriCorps sub-grant program, the office works to build collaboration across federal and state agencies, community-based organizations, and national service programs to improve lives and strengthen communities
For further information about EngageAR, go to volunteerar.org/about-us.