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Springfield College AmeriCorps Members to Clean Emerson Wight Park, Hold Community Service Fair

April 23, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., April 23, 2009 – Springfield College AmeriCorps students will celebrate National Volunteer Week this Saturday, April 25, by giving Emerson Wight Park a spring cleaning and conducting a community service fair to pair volunteers with community organizations. At noon, there will be a free neighborhood barbecue.

A team of 70 of the college’s AmeriCorps members will repair the track, plant flowers, paint, mulch, rake, sweep, remove trash and more from 9:30 a.m. to noon, along with neighborhood residents and other volunteers.

The community service fair in the park, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., will feature more than a dozen local organizations seeking volunteers with various skills and availability.

For children, throughout the day there will be cookie decorating, jewelry making, and face painting.

According to Nicole Messmer, Springfield College AmeriCorps Program administrative coordinator, “This beautification project, to get the park ready for summer activity, would not be possible without a group effort. It augments the work of the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings & Recreation Management, and it’s a great way to build community spirit and pride in the area surrounding the homes in this neighborhood.”

Messmer said that the community service fair is also designed to help people interested in building skills for future employment through volunteer experience. “Volunteering is a great way to remain connected to the workforce while strengthening the community,” she said.

“In this tight economy, nonprofit organizations are being asked to provide more services with reduced resources. By expanding their volunteer force, nonprofits can do more for a growing number of people in need,” Messmer added.

Participating community organizations are Tapestry Health, Springfield School Volunteers, Square One, Kool Smiles, and STOP Access: Springfield. City of Springfield participating departments are the Office of Planning and Economic Development; Department of Parks, Buildings & Recreation Management; Department of Health and Human Services; and City Hall.

The day’s events are supported by a $15,000 grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance for the purpose of expanding service opportunities for people of all ages in Massachusetts; helping nonprofit organizations increase their capacity to recruit, support and recognize volunteers; and celebrating the power of service as a strategy to meet community needs.

The Springfield College AmeriCorps Program, established in 1997, combines graduate student education with meeting community needs. One hundred participating students provide services in health, in-school counseling and case management, academic coaching, youth leadership development, and volunteer recruitment and management. They serve at public schools, health care facilities, and other community-based organizations. The program is supported in part by the Massachusetts Service Alliance and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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