YMCA honors AmeriCorps volunteers for their serviceNot too long ago, Anders Jones couldn’t use a spoon and his plates had to be suction-cupped to the table. Today, the 3-year-old with Down syndrome can use a spoon and no longer has plates equipped with suction cups. His mother, Kara, said that without the help of Samantha Trill, his AmeriCorps mentor provided through the YMCA’s Early Learning Center South, her son may not be where he is today.
By: Emma Murray, INFORUM
Not too long ago, Anders Jones couldn’t use a spoon and his plates had to be suction-cupped to the table.
Today, the 3-year-old with Down syndrome can use a spoon and no longer has plates equipped with suction cups. His mother, Kara, said that without the help of Samantha Trill, his AmeriCorps mentor provided through the YMCA’s Early Learning Center South, her son may not be where he is today.
On Tuesday, Trill and 51 other AmeriCorps volunteers of the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties were recognized for their service as part of national AmeriCorps week.
“The Y has the service of 52 AmeriCorps members, which is incredibly important because it not only allows us to have more programming for young kids in the community, it also helps us specialize our programs for kids with special needs or behavioral issues,” said Kristan Bullinger, YMCA marketing director.
The AmeriCorps members help in a number of areas at local YMCAs, such as child care, youth physical fitness and helping seniors stay active.
Jill Deitz, the YMCA AmeriCorps program coordinator, has played a major role in the program’s tremendous growth since it started in 2004. To continue that growth, Deitz applies for numerous AmeriCorps grants to create more volunteer positions, and her hard work has paid off.
In its first year, the program had eight participants and the single service provided was homework assistance, but this has changed due to community support, Deitz said.
“The community is really invested in the services we’re providing,” Deitz said.
One of these community members is Anders’ mother, Kara, who was among the five featured speakers asked to share the effect the AmeriCorps members’ work has had on her family’s life.
Based on her son’s growth, Jones said the experience has been nothing but positive. But that same positive impact does not go only one way. Trill, the AmeriCorps mentor who has worked with Jones since October, said her work with 3-year-old Anders has also impacted her life a great deal.
“(The Jones family) has changed my life and helped me grow so much in where I see myself going and the path I’ll take,” Trill said. “I think I’ve gotten more out of it than the kids do; they make my day every day.
“I go to work and I could be in a horrible mood, and right away I feel so much better, just by working with them and helping them grow.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Emma Murray at (701) 241-5480
The following is a list of AmeriCorps members recognized by the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties for committing at least 900 hours of service during a 12-month span:
Amy Jo Hampson