Vicksburg-based AmeriCorps has significant impact

Published 9:42 am Monday, July 3, 2017

Each year, 450 participants in the AmeriCorp’s National Civilian Community Corps are assigned to the southern region in Vicksburg.

In a presentation to the Kiwanis Club, AmeriCorp NCCC Southern Region unit leader Mark Weaver talked about the impact these individuals have on the region each year.

“Our people go as far west as Louisiana, where last year we spent several months helping the flood victims,” Weaver said. “In a lot of areas, we were the only people that were there after the first month, after the second month. We are still going to send back more teams to help with recovery.”

The volunteers in the southern region have completed 109,310 hours of community service in Mississippi since 2014, including an average of 10,000 hours of individual service outside of Corps program in Vicksburg each year.

“Just thinking about the economic impact to Vicksburg, if you have 500,000 hours even if you pay somebody $10 an hour, that’s a half million dollars of economic benefit that’s just been given by these individuals,” Weaver said. “The other benefit to Vicksburg is we had one member out of the 450 last year that was from Mississippi. We are bringing in 400 other people that have never been to Mississippi or maybe heard of Vicksburg.”

Last year, volunteers from the Southern Region spent time working in the flooded areas of Louisiana mucking and gutting houses and taking supplies to people in need.

“When we were down in Louisiana for the flooding we cleared out 252 individual homes,” Weaver said. “You have to rip out all of the drywall. You have to rip out all of the baseboards. You have to rip up all the carpet and flooring and all the furniture that has gotten waterlogged. We had senior citizens that physically can’t do that anymore, or they couldn’t afford it because they didn’t have insurance. A lot of the areas that flooded weren’t in floodplains.”

Weaver supervises 10 teams that include 10 Corps volunteers each. Corps members range in age from 18 to 24 and complete a 10-month service term.

In the Southern Region, many of their projects include disaster response, but they also complete smaller projects including helping the United Way and volunteering at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Corp volunteers are provided free room and board and medical insurance along with a monthly stipend and money for college.

Corps teams can be sponsored by local non-profit organization that need help completing projects.