Public Spirit, February 2017

AmeriCorps Week is officially March 4th- 11th! There will be a supplemental Public Spirit this month dedicated to AmeriCorps Week and all the exciting events. Be on the lookout and don’t miss  a thing, follow ICC MN on social media! Following us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram (@iccofmn)! 

Calling all ICC Alumni!

     First of all we want to thank you for your past service as an AmeriCorps and ICC member and we appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to reconnect with ICC. We would greatly appreciate your participation in the following survey.

What is the purpose of this survey?  

  • We are creating an ICC Alumni Database! We would love for all to be included, often when ICC members signed up, the email on record is typically one’s service year email we’d like a way to contact you and you get involved.
  • ICC Alumni Engagement: We would love for your input in creating possible events and opportunities to give back and serve along with developing social and professional connection. Join the InterCorps Council of Minnesota (ICC) Alumni Facebook!


AmeriCorps Members serving on MLK Day at Matter, Food Group, and Open Door Pantry. 


Whether you are in a State, National, or  VISTA program, AmeriCorps members all over Minnesota choose to serve at spectacular organizations for a myriad of reasons. Why do you serve? Share your experience and why you serve on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram (@iccofmn)! , tag it with #WhyIServe. Check out why others serve below, then follow us, take action, and share your story!

“I chose to serve with Urban Boatbuilders because their mission to provide opportunities for diverse youth to flourish through experiential learning and hands-on work spoke to me. Seeing the youth grow over the course of their time here and begin to take ownership of the space and their actions demonstrates that my faith in the organization is shared by them and all of my coworkers. Every day we join the fight against inequality by facilitating not only opportunities, but the youths’ self-confidence in their own ability and resilience.” #WhyIServe – Sarah Hanlon, AmeriCorps VISTA

“I serve because I want to continue to give back to my community.” #WhyIServe -Hannah VanSant-Ouellette, AmeriCorps VISTA

“I serve for my cousin who is in fifth grade and is way behind grade level in reading. I wish he had received helped earlier. I serve because of a kindergartener named Jaidyn who I worked with last year and exited the program a week before she died. I serve because of all the lives and families my service can impact–including my own!!” #WhyIServe – Rachael Snavely, Reading Corps

“I am an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Renewable Energy Alliance and I am living in a small town called Backus, MN, a place I had never visited before VISTA. I chose to serve here because I believe in the sister missions of VISTA and my host site: fighting poverty and fighting energy poverty with solar power. I could have easily gotten a job that would have paid me more, but in a world that is changing so much right now, a dedication to social justice, environmental justice, and equity seemed more pertinent. And it has been so rewarding! My host site has taught me so much about solar energy, policy, poverty, non-profits, supporting each other, and life in general. I don’t think I would have gotten the same experience if I didn’t do VISTA.” #WhyIServe – Erica Bjelland, AmeriCorps VISTA

 “I serve because I once heard the saying, ‘The greatest things we do in our lives are the things we do for other people.’ What greater way could I live by that sentiment than by helping children learn to read so that they could one day better understand the world around them. It is a fact of life that the children of today will always be the leaders of tomorrow. We dictate that future by what we teach them and what we allow them to experience.”  #WhyIServe -Jeannette Ledesma, 4th Year Kindergarten Focus Reading Corps Tutor

 “I serve for the joy of others. I serve because I am called, and needed. I serve because I can. I serve to share my wisdom. I serve for my adopted sons at my host site, Ujamaa Place. I serve because it gives me life and soothes my soul!!” #WhyIServe -Yvonne Brazelton-Singleton, AmeriCorps VISTA

 “I serve as a Promise Fellow in a rural Iron Range school because I believe that students within our communities have unique ideas and leadership opportunities. Through encouragement and mentoring I support both students who struggle academically and students who want to seize the opportunity to be agents of change on the Range.” #WhyIServe -Kayla Schubert, Promise Fellow


AmeriCorps Member Highlight: Diana Siegel-Garcia, College Possible

By: Raquel MacSwain

     We all join AmeriCorps for a variety of reasons, but have you ever asked another AmeriCorps member the reason why they chose to do a term of service? Most likely you have and you’ve heard common themes like:

  1. I wanted to get REAL job experience before heading into a desired career field.
  2. I had NO idea what to do after I graduated college so I decided to apply.
  3. I wanted to wait until later in life to give back to my community when I was MORE financially stable.
  4. I met a previous AmeriCorps member who inspired me to join.

     If you haven’t, try asking around, especially among your program. As an AmeriCorps member of College Possible, I asked some members their reasons behind joining a ten-month commitment. One that stood out to me was Diana Siegel-Garcia, a recent graduate of Rutgers University who moved all the way from New Jersey. As part of an internship class, Diana was required to seek and apply for a post-graduate job. During this process, she only applied to AmeriCorps programs because she is a firm believer in social justice on a domestic level and wanted to do direct service. She has continued to value this niche community of like-minded individuals in an unknown city. “AmeriCorps is a fantastic way to find a job or career field that suits you and your interests. Or it allows you to challenge yourself in something and will gather you more understanding of what to expect out of a particular field.”

     Without a small conversation like this, I would not have known why someone like Diana pursued a program like College Possible, or serving as an AmeriCorps member in general. I CHALLENGE you to have conversations like these with fellow members. We all have unique experiences that have led us to where we are today.

     If you have a personal story or know someone who has a truly amazing reason for joining AmeriCorps, ICC would LOVE to hear about it. Please email the Communications Committee at if you’d like us to highlight yourself or another person and their journey in AmeriCorps.


AmeriCorps Member Highlight: Lyudmila Belair, Reading Corps

     English is Lyudmila Belair’s second language. Lyudmila began to acquire English fifteen years ago at the age of thirty. Six years ago she started working in an elementary school as an interpreter and ESL Aid, and then as a Tutor. Lyudmila is a Minnesota Reading Corps Literacy Tutor (K-3) at Elk River School District- Otsego Elementary. The year before, she served a full term as a Math Enrichment Tutor at Otsego Elementary. Currently as a Literacy Tutor, Lyudmila helps students that are slightly behind grade level standards in reading. The program is designed to help Kindergarteners and First Graders with the sounds and phonemes that make the transition to reading smoothly Reading Corps interventions help second and third grade students to achieve stable fluency in reading.

     “It was the best decision in my life to work with kids. My previous working background was corporate. Working with kids is wonderful and rewarding . It is a great feeling to be a part of somebody’s success! Each graduation is a success story!!! My students gain confidence and skills that will be a base for their future education and I am a part of that process! It’s feel great!!!”

     After completing her years of service, Lyudmila plans to use her Segal Education Award to return to college in order to become an ESL teacher and continue working with students at her service site. She also sends a thank you to her fellow tutors, Amy LaBeen and Laurie Leadens, for their awesome teamwork, and internal and Master coaches, Michelle Heilman and Janet Hainlin, for all of their help and support.



A Story of How AmeriCorps Helped Me Find My Passion

By: Ashley Strusz

     As a former AmeriCorps VISTA member and current VISTA Leader, I have participated and witnessed how individuals grow professionally and personally throughout a year of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program specifically. As a recent college graduate I was not sure where my true passion in life was or how I wanted to make an impact in my community, state and/or world. I needed time to find out who I am and that’s when I found AmeriCorps VISTA. Through my year as a VISTA member, I learned skills that helped me to make an impact on the community, including professionalism, organization, how to build a good rapport with colleagues, building positive partnerships, and being resourceful. During that year I was also able to take my time, learn what I am passionate about, where I wanted to make the most impact, and that I wanted to further my education. I was able to learn personal financial management, how to move ahead on my personal goals, and many other personal skills.

     Now as a VISTA Leader I help support and guide the College Health Corps VISTA members as they too gain in professional development and personal growth. They will gain different skills and reach different personal objectives than I did, but a year of service gives them that opportunity. Every year I ask my cohort members, “What do you hope to get out of a year of service?” Continuously the answer has been to learn more about the challenges facing access to health care, health insurance, and higher education retention. They also speak of wanting to take a year to regroup and refocus their energies internally. How can AmeriCorps contribute to your professional development and personal growth, it all depends on what you the individual want to get out of a year of service.

Follow these links to learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA experience and College Health Corps