AmeriCorps Week 2010 in Full Swing in the City of Buffalo for President Obama's Visit

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WNY AmeriCorps Celebrates AmeriCorps Week 2010 By "Wiping Out" Lead From Communities and Sharing The AmeriCorps Member Experience

The Fourth Annual AmeriCorps Week, May 8-15 2010, provides the perfect opportunity for AmeriCorps members, alums, grantees, program partners, and friends to shine a spotlight on AmeriCorps and to motivate more Americans to serve. During AmeriCorps Week, WNY AmeriCorps members will continue to serve the community in the capacity they serve every day, delivering food the hungry, providing one-on-one guidance to local students, and building the capacity of non-profit organizations focusing on poverty elimination, while also engaging in special initiatives such as community based lead abatement and organizing the first “Be a WNY AmeriCorps Member for a Day” experience.

On Thursday, May 13, the day of President Obama's visit to Buffalo, and Friday, May 14, WNY AmeriCorps is partnering with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to engage WNY AmeriCorps members and HandsOn Greater Buffalo community volunteers in the safe removal of lead paint from over a dozen homes in the Fruit Belt and University Heights neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo, NY. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo funded project will prepare the homes for future volunteers to repaint later this season.

“Homes built before 1978 contain lead paint and thousands of children in Erie County have been poisoned or are at risk,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “Lead poisoning causes damage to the brain and central nervous system seriously undermining a child’s ability to learn and may lead to violent behavior later in life. However, it is 100% preventable and WNY AmeriCorps has been a great partner in our prevention efforts by promoting lead safe work practices.”

Information about the Community Foundation’s Wipe Out Lead campaign is available at WipeOutLead.com; for residents who think their home may contain lead paint call (716) 712-5500.

“Be a WNY AmeriCorps Member for a Day” is a new pilot program of WNY AmeriCorps, organized and lead solely by present ABLE (AmeriCorps Builds Lives through Education) Members and funded by AmeriCorps Alums. Local VIPs and community members were invited to experience a day in the life of a WNY AmeriCorps ABLE member, serving in a local educational organization. Experiences include the “Wing King” Drew Cerza, NYS Senator Antoine Thompson, and NYS Assemblyman Sam Hoyt serving with the Gloria J. Parks Community Center, NYS Assemblyman Mark J.F. Schroeder serving with the First Hand Learning program at the Valley Community Association, and employees of People Inc serving at Gloria J. Parks Community Center and Hope Refugee Service’s FLY Program.

“We wanted to invite community members in to serve along-side our members during their every-day service, which can be a challenging and often underappreciated. You gain a new respect for national service once you’re ‘in the trenches.’” said Mark P. Lazzara, CEO of WNY AmeriCorps. “The WNY AmeriCorps members that conceived, organized, and created our first member for a day program are a testament to the capacity of our nation’s youth and the empowering nature of service.”

While volunteers are engaged in these special projects, WNY AmeriCorps members will continue to serve in the community. In the course of one week, 302 WNY AmeriCorps members will serve over 10,000 Hours to expand the reach and effectiveness of non-profits, educational organizations, schools, and hunger elimination organizations. WNY AmeriCorps VISTA members will recruit 242 community volunteers to help serve nearly 1,000 people. WNY AmeriCorps ABLE members will tutor, provide guidance, or enhance programs serving 2,900 local students.

Wipe Out Lead is a campaign of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Foundation was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. Reducing racial and ethnic disparities and increasing economic self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families are key impact areas for the Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. http://www.cfgb.org.

WNY AmeriCorps, an independent non-profit, creates opportunities for all individuals to serve, challenging citizens to turn their ideals into action and their passion into positive change. Through transformational service and civic responsibility, WNY AmeriCorps is designing a sustainable future for our nation’s communities. For more information, visit http://www.WNYAmeriCorps.org.

For more information on AmeriCorps Week 2010, visit http://www.AmeriCorpsWeek.gov.

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Patrick Metzger
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