Mayor Vincent C. Gray

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May 18, 2011

Mayor Gray Spotlights Outstanding AmeriCorps Members Serving In the District as Part of 2011 AmeriCorps Week Celebration 

More Than 1600 AmeriCorps Members Currently Serve in the District

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(WASHINGTON, DC) –Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Serve DC –The Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism Executive Director Patricia Evans today recognized four outstanding AmeriCorps members as part of the nationwide celebration of AmeriCorps Week, May 14-21. This week highlights the invaluable work done by AmeriCorps members across the country.

The members are: Veronica Vasquez, Emma Scott, Jennifer Ngai and Jessica Moss.

Since its inception 17 years ago, AmeriCorps has been a driving force in demonstrating that service is a solution to the nation’s most persistent challenges. Serve DC is the largest AmeriCorps grant administrator in the District and takes the lead in training and capacity building for national service programs.

“We are honored to be part of AmeriCorps and grateful for the AmeriCorps members who have answered the call to serve and are producing results for the District,” said Mayor Gray. “We want to thank the Corporation for National and Community Service for their continued support.”

“AmeriCorps members have undeniably increased the District’s ability to meet critical local needs,” said Evans. “This year alone, nearly 7,000 students at 69 DC public and charter schools are benefiting from one-on-one tutoring and mentoring from an AmeriCorps member.” More than 1,600 AmeriCorps members, supported by $17 million in federal funding, are serving in the District this year, combating poverty, helping students learn to read, mentoring at-risk youth, providing vital health services, and helping non-profits build their capacity to serve and achieve their mission.

Since 1994, 706,000 men and women have joined AmeriCorps, and they have given more than 860 million hours of service to their country. In the District, AmeriCorps members are serving in 63 community-based organizations this year, including: City Year, Jumpstart, Martha’s Table, Center for Inspired Teaching and the DC Rape Crisis Center as well as other non-profit community-based organizations.

Veronica Vasquez is an AmeriCorps State member funded by Serve DC, working with the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) at one of their school-based sites, MacFarland Middle School. She is the leader of her AmeriCorps team and her responsibilities include acting as a teacher’s assistant to 7th and 8th grade students and tutoring limited- and non-English-proficient students. Veronica also helped start an afterschool program called the Ladies Elite Club. This club focuses on teaching female students about self-esteem, self-respect, etiquette, and creative arts. This club has quickly become one of the most popular clubs on campus. In addition, Veronica spends her personal time mentoring some of the young ladies to help influence them to make good decisions. Her colleagues describe Veronica as an example for her peers and a servant at heart who always gets the job done. Born and raised in the District, she is currently a single mom. Despite the challenges she faced early in her youth as a teen mom, she overcame them and went on to further her education. Veronica received her GED in 2008 and enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College to study psychology.

Emma Scott is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with Critical Exposure. She has made tremendous contributions to the organization, including creating their first fellowship program for District high school students, securing a wide range of new exhibit venues for student photographs, authoring improvements to the program’s curriculum and orchestrating their most successful fundraiser ever. Her colleagues describe Emma’s work ethic, commitment to social justice, and talents as the cornerstones of an exemplary AmeriCorps member. Before coming to the District, she spent multiple summers teaching photography at a rural summer camp and to newly arrived refugees in New York City. This past summer, Emma cycled across the country with an organization that aims to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. Along the way, her group helped build at 10 different affordable-housing-project sites.

Jennifer Ngai is an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, serving at The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. She serves in the Consumer Unit where she engages in a wide range of activities to help low-income individuals and families prevent the loss of their home through foreclosure or foreclosure-related fraud. This includes: community education and outreach, client counseling, negotiation with lenders, and litigation. During her first term Jennifer served more than 250 D.C. residents through direct representation, brief legal services and outreach events and saved 29 homes from foreclosure. She is halfway through her second term and has already saved 15 homes from foreclosure. Jennifer applied for an Innovation Grant from Equal Justice Works to support a Metrobus advertising campaign to ensure all D.C. residents are aware of their tenant and homeowner rights. The targeted ad campaign has already increased the number of clients that the Legal Aid Society is able to support.

Jessica Moss is an AmeriCorps Community HealthCorps member with the D.C. Primary Care Association. Her current placement is at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. She runs the Peer Support Program and manages 50 volunteers who provide peer-based mental health services around LGBT and HIV/AIDS-related concerns. These services include both individual peer counseling and a range of support groups. Jessica recruits and coordinates the training for the volunteers and does all the intakes for clients in the program. She also provides referrals for clients who may need additional services. Other special projects she’s involved in include transitioning the program into the clinic’s electronic medical records system and teaming up with other local organizations to co-sponsor a new support group for caregivers of individuals with a chronic illness or disability.