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About Senior Corps 
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.
USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CONTACT: Siobhan Dugan
Phone: 202-606-6707
Email: [email protected]

CONTACT: Fred Whiting
Phone: 301-994-5691
Email: [email protected]


National Service Agency Honors Outstanding Volunteers and Top Corporate Sponsors of Its Programs


SEATTLE – Six volunteers who serve with the Senior Corps network of national service programs were honored today with “Spirit of Service” awards for their outstanding contributions to their communities. The awards were presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Seattle.

The six are: Vernon Becker, a volunteer with the Foster Grandparent Program in Orlando, FL.; Edward R. Boyer, president of Mercy Medical Airlift in Virginia Beach, VA, which received a grant from Corporation’s Special Volunteer Program; Dianne Guillot, a volunteer with RSVP in West Monroe, LA; Carolyn Parmeter, a volunteer with RSVP in Tulsa, OK.; Bethene Trexel, a volunteer with RSVP in New York, NY; and Eileen Nelsen, a volunteer with the Senior Companion Program in St. Cloud, MN.

The Spirit of Service Awards pay tribute to the most outstanding participants in each of the Corporation’s three main program—Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America—as well as to outstanding private sector partners. Honorees are selected because they have exemplified the spirit of national service, demonstrated exceptional service or leadership, and served as role models for others. The eight honorees this year from the Corporation’s AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America programs, as well as three Corporate Spirit of Service awardees, were announced earlier in the conference and are listed below.

“These ‘Spirit of Service’ award winners have gone above and beyond the call to serve their nation and have brought excellence to our programs and critically needed services to their communities,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation, which co-sponsors the annual conference along with the Points of Light Foundation. “Many of this year’s winners were directly involved in hurricane relief efforts over the past year and did exemplary work responding to that unprecedented disaster.”

Eisner noted that support from the business sector is an important factor in ensuring the quality and success of national service programs. “By design, our programs are meant to be a pubic-private partnership, with businesses doing their part to support our grantees. The three Corporate Award winners we are honoring this year—The Home Depot, State Farm Insurance, and Hypertherm, Inc.—have stepped up to the plate and exercised tremendous social responsibility.”

Brief summaries of each of the 17 award winners can be found below.

Senior Corps

Vernon Becker, Foster Grandparent Program, Orlando, FL

Prior to signing on as a Foster Grandparent seven years ago, Mr. Becker was a writer, director, and producer of educational films. During his first four years of volunteering, he was assigned to the Family Support and Visitation Center, where he monitored and supervised court-ordered visits between children in the foster care system and their biological parents. He drew on his wealth of knowledge and experience to hold the interest of the children and staff, and he participated in training programs to develop new methods of helping the children he served. In his current assignment at Orange Center Elementary School, Mr. Becker assists kindergarten students in the English as a Second Language program. He focuses on helping the students improve their literacy and oral language skills in English and develop the necessary vocabulary to enter a mainstream classroom.


Edward R. Boyer, Special Volunteer Program, Virginia Beach, VA

Mr. Boyer is CEO and president of the Mercy Medical Airlift, a Corporation grantee, and the current chairman of Angel Flight America. Following the 9/11 attacks, he recognized the potential of the untapped resource of 5,000 volunteer pilots affiliated with Angel Flight who could assist in a national emergency. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf States, Angel Flight sprung into action. Angel Flight relief pilots flew more than 2,100 mission, carrying relief workers and supplies in to the stricken regions, and individuals and families out of the area to be relocated or reunited with other family members.

Dianne Guillot, RSVP, West Monroe, LA

Ms. Guillot is a member of the Ouachita Parish Citizen Corps Council and is certified as a disaster shelter manager and as a member of the Community Emergency Response Team. In the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes, Guillot served as site manager of the local shelter, working with Red Cross volunteers to handle the needs of about 3,000 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. At times, she managed as many as 300 volunteers as the local residents provided shelter, meals, transportation, and counseling to people fleeing the hurricane. When Hurricane Rita hit, Guillot set up a shelter for another 300 evacuees.


Carolyn Parmeter, RSVP, Tulsa, OK

Ms. Parmeter, a retired systems manager, serves as a court observer in the collaborative domestic violence Court Watch program. She helped develop project data collection forms, and she mentors other court observer volunteers. In addition, Ms. Parmeter served as the volunteer project manager with ICAN, a web-based protective order application service in both English and Spanish, and she applied her professional skills to keep the project on track. Over the years, Ms. Parmeter’s work on the project has helped fill a gap in services to victims of domestic violence, and she has been instrumental in dependent families’ recouping millions of dollars in court-ordered child support.


Bethene Trexel, RSVP, New York, NY

Serving with the Advocacy, Counseling and Entitlement Service Project (ACES) at the Community Service Society in New York City, Ms. Trexel counsels New Yorkers on public benefits, including Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare, including Medicare Part D. She makes an impact working both individually and with groups of clients, as well as with advocates and social service providers. She has counseled more than 100 clients since she began volunteering in August 2003.


Eileen Nelsen, Senior Companion Program, St. Cloud, MN

After her husband of 40 years died in March 2002, Ms. Nelsen started volunteering as a way of keeping busy, and signed on as a Senior Companion with the Lutheran Social Service program. Many of her clients are lonely because their families live far away and they have no one to visit them. Her activities range from taking them to the grocery and medical appointments to enjoying meals and card games together. In addition to her duties as a Senior Companion, Ms. Nelson also serves as a Senior Leader for a group of eight other Senior Companions. She keeps track of each Companion’s clients, reporting any needs or concerns to the local case manager. She also handles referrals, matching new clients with Senior Companions.


Bethany Welch, AmeriCorps Alumnus, Philadelphia, PA

During her year of service with the Cardinal Bevilacqua Community Center of Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia, Ms. Welch assisted with the development of five programs, recruited hundreds of volunteers, wrote program curricula, and managed a number of projects and community focus groups to address critical local social issues. Now a doctoral student in public policy at the University of Delaware, she continues to volunteer at the Bevilacqua Center. As a result, the Bevilacqua Center has been selected to do a presentation at the Community Development Society at its annual international conference in St. Louis this month on leveraging the power of national service to strengthen communities.

Kristin Brown, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Denver, CO, and Brooklyn, NY

Ms. Brown, a New York City native, is now serving her second year with AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). In her first year, she tutored young at-risk girls in a treatment facility, built trails at a state part, served with Habitat for Humanity, and helped Hurricane Katrina evacuees at a shelter. As a second-year member, she is the service-learning initiator for her team and also handles “corps ambassador” duties, reaching out to organizations and individuals to increase their awareness of AmeriCorps*NCCC.

Jennifer Shutt, AmeriCorps*State and National, Chicago, IL

As an AmeriCorps member serving with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, Ms. Shutt has responded to nearly 200 incidents and has assisted hundreds of individuals. As part of the organization’s Hurricane Katrina response, Ms. Shutt worked more than 12 hours a day from an emergency response vehicle, serving meals and providing support to people in communities in desperate need.

Alpha Balde, AmeriCorps*VISTA, Austin, TX

Mr. Balde left a career in corporate advertising to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member with the nonprofit group Foundation Communities at the organization’s Community Tax Center. Throughout his year of service, Mr. Balde shaped key areas of the program, including facilitating volunteer-based focus groups, redesigning volunteer descriptions, creating a script for a training video that articulates the program’s vision and values, and conducting grassroots outreach to hundreds of low-income residents. As part of a three-person team, Mr. Balde was crucial in helping the program reach its 2006 goal of preparing more than 10,000 returns that secured close to $13 million in federal tax refunds.

Learn and Serve America

Cynthia McCauley, Educator, Panama City, FL

With an extraordinary heart and spirit borne of a love of young people and her own efforts to live with a disability, Ms. McCauley has engaged thousands of students in service-learning. Her projects enable students at all levels to practice skills, behaviors, and habits of citizenship they need to learn through helping their peers and their communities. Ms. McCauley has concentrated on her efforts on finding ways for students facing multiple disabilities to work with mainstream students on service-learning projects. Her latest undertaking is to create the first-ever service-learning charter school for students with disabilities. Through her efforts, thousands of students have been transformed through service-learning, and have learned that all people can and should serve—not just be served.

Dr. Rudy Garcia, Higher Education, Albuquerque, NM

A top service-learning educator at the higher education level, Dr. Garcia developed the service-learning program at Central New Mexico Community College, recruiting dozens of faculty members to participate in the initiative. He spurred collaboration with community agencies and secured a Unidos Grant that resulted in a legal clinic’s providing services in an underserved area; a writing project connecting elderly residents with developmental writing students; and faculty workshops to enhance faculty and student critical thinking and reflection components of service-learning.

Kevin Estep, Student, Apple Grove, WV

An honors student with a 3.9 GPA, Mr. Estep has participated in service-learning through HI-Y, a YMCA-affiliated leadership organization. Among other activities, Mr. Estep has volunteered as a camp counselor, helping 7- to 12-year-old at-risk boys and girls who attend the Governor’s Youth Opportunity Camps at YMCA Camp Horseshoe. At his school, he took a weak HI-Y group and challenged the members to improve their school and community. He also joined the West Virginia Youth Action Council, part of the state’s Department of Education’s Learn and Serve program, in its work to involve more youth in service.

The SITES Program, North Olmsted, OH

More than 1,400 students have contributed more than 250,000 service hours to the community through the SITES program since it was established 15 years ago by North Olmsted High School teachers Robert J. Pierce and Christine Kilbane-Pierce. The three-credit, interdisciplinary program integrates 12th grade English and social studies with an elective credit in community service-learning. For the latter course, students perform five hours of weekly service at area agencies. They then analyze, discuss, and reflect on their experiences in both their English and social studies courses. The program serves as a Learn and Serve Ohio Model, assisting other schools with developing and improving service-learning programs of their own.

Corporate Sponsors

The Home Depot, Atlanta, GA

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the other storms of 2005, the Home Depot jumped to action and immediately mobilized resources to the Gulf Coast to support state service commissions, nonprofits, AmeriCorps members, and community volunteers in their efforts to provide emergency shelter and housing to rebuild homes, communities, and hope. The support came—and continues to come—in many forms: cash, building supplies, matching funds, and thousands of Home Depot volunteers who are directly are involved in the rebuilding effort through such activities as mold remediation, refurbishing medical and cultural facilities, and building safe and healthy play spaces through a national partnership with the nonprofit group KaBoom. Ultimately, the Home Depot’s business and community investment in rebuilding the Gulf Coast is expected to total $75 million.

State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, IL

Most people know State Farm as an insurance pioneer, but not everyone recognizes its pioneering leadership as an advocate for service-learning. For many years, State Farm has used its fiscal and human resources to connect teachers, classrooms, and communities nationwide. In 2005, the company funded the 15th anniversary symposium and gala for Learn and Serve America. In addition, every year the State Farm Companies Foundation sponsors the Growing to Greatness report, a study by the National Youth Leadership Council that has helped communities embrace youth as vital assets.

Hypertherm, Inc., Hanover, NH

Like the AmeriCorps*VISTA program it supports, Hyperthem helps people by giving them the power to create their own lasting solutions to problems. Hypertherm employees receive 16 hours of paid community service leave each year, and the employee-led Philanthropic Team receives great support. Last year, one of the organizations to which the employees gave their support was COVER Home Repair, which uses AmeriCorps*VISTA members to help local residents fight poverty. The support has led directly to the success of the program.

The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for nearly 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through 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, go to


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