Members of the Rural south central Nebraska AmeriCorps, located at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, collected basic hygiene products such as deodorant, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner which were donated to the Salvation Army. In addition, nearly $50 cash was donated. The money will be used for Reach Your Destination Easily (RYDE) bus vouchers.
According to Geraldine Stirtz, UNK Office for Service Learning director, more than 3,500 people in Nebraska were homeless in 2007. Of that population, children represented more than 40 percent. More than 11 percent of Nebraskans are living below the poverty line.
Rural south central Nebraska AmeriCorps members Rachael Broadwell, Cristine Braddy and UNK Office for Service-Learning student intern Theresa Harrison, a graduate student from Cleveland, Tenn., were responsible for organizing the project. Additional members who participated include UNK students Rachael Broadwell of Glenvil, Megan Sokolowski of Kearney and UNK graduate student Shena Thompson of Holdrege.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Rural AmeriCorps is part of a community partnership with the UNK Office for Service-Learning and the Kearney Area Community Foundation.
“Few services are available here in Kearney to serve the homeless,” Stirtz said. “Both Grand Island and Hastings have shelters and are providing services for the homeless, although both of those shelters are frequently over capacity and are not able to meet their needs.”
“It is our mission to create a sustainable corps of engaged citizens within the south central Nebraska region,” Stirtz said. “It is our main goal to benefit the population served and to also educate the public on civic engagement.”
Last fall, the Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission awarded the AmeriCorps group a campus and community partnership grant as a part of the UNK Office for Service-Learning. The office serves as the programming agency and legal applicant. For more information about Rural AmeriCorps, visit www.ruralcorps.org.