Friday, March 22, 2013

Austin's American Youthworks launches disaster response program

It was good to see this article about Americorps in today's issue of the Austin American-Statesman.  Americorps programs are great opportunities for paid work in helping to  restore communities and the environment after natural disasters.  Americorps programs pay a living wage plus an education award after the term of service.  Check them out!

Here's the Statesman article about new Americorps members being sworn in yesterday through American Youthworks in Austin:

Youthworks launches disaster response program
By Patrick Beach
American-Statesman Staff

The nonprofit American YouthWorks announced the launch of a disaster response program and swore in some 30 new AmeriCorps members on the south steps of the Texas Capitol Thursday morning.

The program, which comes via a grant from the Texas-based One Star Foundation, grows out of similar efforts from YouthWorks’ 16-year-old Texas Conservation Corps, which provides second-line disaster response and works to build trails, plant trees and restore habitat. The group, which has a national reach, has worked in Bastrop following the wildfires, as well as serving after the tornado in Joplin, Mo., and after Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

“You’re continuing on a very rich tradition in Texas of conservation and resource stewardship,” said Director of State Parks Brent Leisure, who lives in the Bastrop area. “I’ve seen a lot of progress made in recovery, largely thanks to your efforts.”

When they are not being used for disaster relief, the group — to be divided into two teams of 10 to 15 each — will take part in conservation projects.

Several speakers at the event Thursday noted that the AmeriCorps members were continuing the tradition of the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps and acknowledged that the work isn’t always comfortable.

“There’s no greater sacrifice you can make than your time and your efforts,” said state Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, whose district includes all of Bastrop County. “We understand it’s not always comfortable. We understand you’re out there and it’s 105 (degrees).”

Conservation Corps program director Chris Sheffield said one of his groups was planting trees in Bastrop County on Thursday, another was working on a Civilian Conservation Corps-era bridge that burned after the 2011 Bastrop County Complex fire and a third was headed to San Antonio to work at a park there. Members, who serve for a year, spend about half their time in a classroom and the other half in the field, earning class credit.

American YouthWorks is an Austin organization that works with at-risk youths through education, community service and job training.

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