Every year, AmeriCorps offers 80,000 service opportunities for adults of all ages and walks of life through a vast national network of partnerships with non-profit organizations. In Northwest Indiana, there is no doubt that AmeriCorps members have the ability to change lives while fulfilling vital roles in the community. Maddie Grimm, United Way AmeriCorps Program Director, is a master at connecting people to passionate efforts that surround their skill sets. She believes that everyone has something to bring to the table when it comes to supporting community.
“We are filling in humanitarian needs within the community that they don’t have anybody else doing. It’s a unique program; communities need AmeriCorps,” Grimm said. “There are opportunities available right now in Northwest Indiana we can all take part in.” The opportunities for an AmeriCorps member vary per duty, but generally focus on tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth, managing an after-school program, and assisting communities during a disaster.
Openings are available in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Marshall, and Starke Counties. Some service opportunities that are available right now are at facilities like Valparaiso and Michigan City High Schools, Valpo Parks, and LaPorte United Way.
During their term of service, members receive a modest living allowance and education award that can be put toward college expenses. If full-time, members can even receive child care and health insurance benefits. Through this experience, new skills will be acquired that not only help others, but promote the quality of life in general. Essentially, doing good makes you feel good!
“People join AmeriCorps as a way to enhance their work experience while serving others,” Grimm said. “It’s a great opportunity for individuals looking to fill a gap year between education pursuits and full-time employment.”
Grimm also noted that opportunities offer flexible time commitments and it is possible to serve while maintaining a part-time job.
Members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for college, graduate school, or pay back qualified school loans. Members who are over 55 can donate their education award to their children, grandchildren, or foster children.
Grimm believes that so many people have skill sets that aren’t on their resume, which makes her hiring style bloom from a unique approach.
“Some people have hobbies, or they are retired and have a life full of experience. That is extremely helpful for [AmeriCorps],” Grimm said.
To qualify as an AmeriCorps member, one must be 18 years of age, a US Citizen or US national or lawful permanent resident alien of the US, and have a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate.
“As an AmeriCorps alumnus, my experience and current role give me a chance to follow my heart and do what I truly want to do,” Grimm expressed.
Natalie Wilhelm, Community Impact Program Coordinator for United Way of Porter County, also loves being an AmeriCorps member.
"My position at United Way of Porter County allows me to branch out in so many ways I wasn’t able to through college. I’m getting real experience that I will be able to carry with me long past the end of my term," Wilhelm said.
If you dream of building a better world, AmeriCorps is the place to start. Apply through the United Way website, here www.unitedwaypc.org/americorps and follow the steps for an opportunity that is fulfilling and life changing. If you are interested in United Way of Porter County and their other efforts, visit www.unitedwaypc.org.