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About Senior Corps 
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Hurricane Volunteer Support Fund
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, the Corporation is coordinating volunteers to assist with repair and relief efforts in areas affected by this devastating storm. Your donation will support volunteers in providing food and shelter, managing donations, helping victims get necessary assistance, and long-term rebuilding efforts.
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USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 01, 2006

CONTACT: Sandy Scott
Phone: 202-606-6724
Email: [email protected]

   

Teenage Volunteer From Mississippi Gets Front Row Seat at State of the Union

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Ja’Detrus Hamilton, a teenage volunteer from Leakesville, Miss., had one of the best views of last night’s State of the Union address—as good, in fact, as the First Lady’s.

That’s because the 16-year-old high school student, who has dedicated himself to volunteer efforts in response to the devastation wrought to his home state by Hurricane Katrina last August, was one of 24 people chosen to sit with the First Lady during the speech because of their actions, accomplishments, and spirit.

“Our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another,” the President said in his speech. “So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.”

Those words certainly apply to Ja’Detrus, who lives in a small, rural community about 80 miles north of the Gulf Coast. As Hurricane Katrina approached, he and his family members left their home and found shelter in a local church. While they weathered the storm with minimal damage, Ja’Detrus was greatly moved by the suffering of his fellow Mississippians, especially those along the coast whose lives had been upended. So he decided to do something about it.

And he knew where to start. For two years, Ja’Detrus has been an active member of Youth Engaged in Service, or YES, a youth service organization supported by the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service and the service-learning program Learn and Serve America. The goal of YES is to enlist, train, and empower high school students to be service leaders in their schools and communities.

For the past five months, Ja’Detrus—along with the other YES teens—has collected and delivered school supplies and backpacks to elementary school students; partnered with a family to help them “gut out” and begin repairs on their severely damaged home; and interviewed Gulf Coast residents to begin to document stories of hope and courage. He continues to lead other youth in hurricane recovery efforts.

“Volunteering is something that everyone can do, it doesn’t matter how old you are; it doesn’t matter if you are the star athlete or number one in your class — it’s great because anyone can give back and serve,” Ja’Detrus said.

Youth Engaged in Service is supported by Learn and Serve America, a federal program that provides resources to schools, colleges, and community organizations throughout the country to support service-learning, a method of teaching in which community service is closely tied to school or leadership and civic curriculum. Approximately 1.5 million youth are introduced each year to civic engagement through Learn and Serve America, which is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“Engaging students in service with others in their communities is one of the principal aims of Learn and Serve, and of the Corporation as a whole,” said Amy Cohen, Director of Learn and Service America. “Ja’Detrus is a shining example of the ability young people have to make a positive difference, and we are thrilled he was recognized and honored by the First Lady.”

Said Ja’Detrus, “I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing without the support of the YES! program and Learn and Serve.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through three programs: Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. Together with the USA Freedom Corps, the Corporation is working to build a culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility in America. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.

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