AmeriCorps sends first ever Alaska-based group to the state
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As far back as Lacey Salazar’s memory stretches, she felt a calling to help people.
“Before I knew what AmeriCorps was, I didn’t really know how to do that outreach, how to go through the volunteer process.,” Salazar, the team leader for the Alaska Focused AmeriCorps group, said.
AmeriCorps is a national civilian organization that is focused on service work through communities. Salazar said when she was in college and first heard of AmeriCorps, everything for her clicked.
“I was like, this would be a very good opportunity for me to serve my community and also get me some time to really explore my options,” Salazar said.
Salazar is one of eight volunteers with the organization’s Alaska-based operation. Her team is the first-ever solo Alaska-based group.
“It does take a lot of have an Alaska team because of travel and getting up here,” Salazar said. “So we really have been able to understand more the need here in Alaska.”
Since November, AmeriCorps has been working with different nonprofits and tribal organizations throughout the state.
“They have these great projects, but they don’t have the amount of staff to really focus on them because they have to do the priorities. So we have been really able to help start up some projects that originally would have been set off for a long amount of time,” Salazar said.
The latest project has the team working with the Food Bank of Alaska. AmeriCorps members say that allows them to see a direct impact of their work.
“Forming relationships with people that we see come back, week after week, or seeing food that we work on in food reclamation. Seeing it show up at the food pantry and then being the one that hands it out to people,” Juliana DiGiacomo, a Corps member and project outreach liaison, said.
The team will remain in Alaska until August. Some of their next projects include working with the Center for Coastal Studies in Homer and the Girls Scouts Camp in Wasilla. Salazar said the group hopes to be able to return to Alaska again next year with a new group.
“I think just having a team up here to be that extra hand is what is will be needed, especially with everything Alaska has been through with COVID,” Salazar said.
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