Public Spirit September 2012

9/11 Day of Service
9/11 Day of Service is an international movement to observe September 11 every year as a day of charitable service and doing good deeds. 9/11 Day of Service provides a positive way to forever remember and pay tribute to the 9/11 victims, honor those that rose in service in response to the attacks, and remind people of the importance of working more closely together in peace to improve our world. Join Corps members across Minnesota in volunteering and making a difference in our communities.

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As the service year kicks off for many programs across the state, the ICC of MN is looking forward to the coming year and is now accepting applications for the 2012-2013 council year.  The application can be found on our website.  The application process will be competitive this year, with all applications screened by former Council members and stakeholders and then forwarded for selection to the Council’s advisors at CNCS and ServeMinnesota.


Member Spotlight: Ben Larson; Opportunity Corps

By Riley LindbergWhile growing up 20 miles outside of Willmar, Minnesota, Ben had always been a farm kid.  He worked various farming jobs through high school. After graduation, he completed two semesters of college at two different institutions, but he still was not sure what he wanted to do. All he knew was that he wanted to try something that was different from what he had been doing. When he heard about an opening with the Minnesota Opportunity Corps, Ben decided to apply.The Minnesota Opportunity Corps partners with community-based organizations to help Minnesotans overcome economic barriers and become more self-sufficient. AmeriCorps members serving with Minnesota Opportunity Corps are trained to serve in collaboration with the staff of their partner organizations.

 

While Ben admits that he was not sure what he was getting himself into when he applied for Opportunity Corps, he says his AmeriCorps experience so far has been “amazing.”

“The responsibilities and opportunities that have been given to me have really been life changing.  The personal growth and experiences that I’ve had from AmeriCorps really could have never taken place in a class room. The people that I get to see daily have really changed my life and just that I get the opportunity to assist them in any way is really a blessing.”

Ben splits his service time between two different sites in Willmar, Goodwill Easter Seals and Emerge Community Development. At Goodwill, Ben serves as a case manager for people who come to Goodwill as part of a three month work experience program. He also helps with a program called GOALS, which aims to help at risk youth set goals for their lives.

At Emerge, Ben helps refugee families make the transition to living in Willmar. He helps them find housing and employment, sets up driver’s tests, and enroll their children in school. He has even set up community orientations, where refugees can get to know Willmar better by asking participating schools and non-profits questions about the area. Ben’s family has also hosted Thanksgiving meals for refugee families, and invited them to bring some of their traditional dishes to pass.

Ben hopes his service with Goodwill and Emerge will transition into regular employment with them when his service ends. He also is pursuing a Bachelor of Ministry degree. As he reflects on his service so far, Ben says he is happy to have made an impact in his community.

“When I see people in the community outside of work and they come to me and shake my hand, I know AmeriCorps has impacted them.”

For more information about Minnesota Opportunity Corps visit http://www.opportunitycorps.org/