Did you know that AmeriCorps is made up of over 1 million strong, courageous members? Our Program Leaders make up a small, but mighty percentage who get to work closely with our families and participants. They are the “boots on the ground” service members who are conducting outreach to our community. These fearless members bring enthusiasm and dedication, and we want to celebrate these leaders all week long because it’s AmeriCorps Week!
AmeriCorps Members give a year of service to ESP and in return, they receive a monthly living allowance, free housing, and an education award! This week is AmeriCorps Week and we are spotlighting our amazing AmeriCorps Members!
Nithin is originally from Forsyth County, Georgia, but moved to Athens in order to pursue something incredible- ESP’s mission! He is the leader of our family dinners, driving the shuttles, and conducting the technology behind Power Hour classes. Nithin was an ESP volunteer for our 360 afternoon programs and loved the ESP mission, so he applied to AmeriCorps as he takes a gap year to apply to medical school. Nithin also enjoys photography and capturing important moments at ESP.
Hunter is local to Sandersville, Georgia and he enjoys every moment he spends at ESP! He joined the Program Leader with a Family Focus crew for many reasons including getting the opportunity to create these unique experiences for our participants. He’s been a familiar face to the kids for a while because he volunteered in Fall 2019, completed an internship under Kalon in Spring 2020, and worked in Summer 2020 as well on site!
One of Hunter’s future aspirations is to work as a Recreational Therapist for individuals with disabilities, and to guide them to success in the workforce. He is already a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, so being an AmeriCorps member will help him gain the experience necessary to succeed in his field. Hunter is planning our Family Beach Trip this year to Jekyll Island andis using his skills in recreational therapy to make sure our families have the safest, most fun and restful time imaginable.
“Days before our Christmas break someone made a generous donation to go towards Family Support. In only a few days, we went through a list of families and bought essential items they’d hoped for. It was worth it to see all of the joy come to all of our families with all of the gifts that we were able to get for them,” said Hunter as one of his most impactful moments as an AmeriCorps Member.
Sarah brings the energy to our AmeriCorps with a Family Focus team! She is from Macon, Georgia and teaches Extra Fitness Corps class to keep our participants healthy, active, and learning about useful lifestyle changes. Sarah enjoys every moment she spends at ESP, and we celebrate her continuously. Sarah started her journey with ESP in the Spring of 2020 as a Development Intern and continued in the summer at the red site.
She believes that being a Program Leader with a Family Focus will help her improve her communication and leadership skills. Sarah helped us plan the Fall Festival in 2020 and added her own twist to things, which families loved! She grows more and more with our team. Sarah is sticking around for AmeriCorps next year, and we’re so excited to see her continue to shine!
“This year we had the opportunity to travel to Rome and do a Showcase Club Event. To be able to see first hand the growth of ESP, and see that this organization will soon become a home away from home for families outside of ESP in Watkinsville was such an impactful experience,” said Sarah.
Erin is from Dacula, Georgia and she plays a huge role in teaching Corps classes here, driving the shuttle, and conducting respite at ESP! She welcomes people with open arms and always radiates positivity in any way she can. Erin teaches the Social Club Corps class where participants learn all about varying skills such as kitchen safety, resume building, and more!
Erin has been a longtime volunteer and on Summer Leadership with ESP. Last year, Erin was at the purple site for camp as well! She aspires to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to continue helping people of all abilities. Erin is excited about the opportunities, experiences, and connections that being an AmeriCorps member will give her.
This year, Erin planned Jolly Jubilee and our families had an amazing time thanks to her hard work! She provided our families with an opportunity to safely distance and spend quality time together during such a heartfelt time of year, the holidays.
"This past December, we had a donor give a large amount of money to ESP specifically for family support. We were able to give families different necessities during the Holidays," says Erin. "It was a moment that made me appreciate my role serving this organization and the families."
As a future career goal, Maddie aspires to become an Occupational Therapist. This AmeriCorps position will help her gain the experiences and connections within the community that are necessary for the direction she wants to go in. Maddie also teaches the Adulting class with Cathleen this semester and celebrates every teaching opportunity she has with her favorite people on the planet- our participants.
Maddie drives our shuttles, plans ESPlay, and handles respite. She was a Volunteer Intern in 2019 to 2020 under Hunter Pugh, then on summer staff at the purple site and now an AmeriCorps member! Maddie is planning a special family dance for our families which will surely blow our families away.
Cathleen is currently pursuing her passion of being a Child Life Specialist and she plans on going to graduate school after her time as an AmeriCorps Member. Cathleen has a drive for working with kids of every ability, and she knows how to make them feel their most-confident self regularly in her classes. She is a problem solver and always maintains a positive attitude in any given situation.
Cathleen teaches the Social Club Corps classes where participants learn social cues, how to solve conflicts, and other useful social skills. Cathleen planned the Giving Tree this year and was able to coordinate over 50 holiday gifts to our families in need. She helped to create a holiday miracle to our families, and they were so grateful for their presents especially during the pandemic.
“Seeing the impact ESP has on the parents and participants is unmatched, and it’s something that has been a blessing to be a part of,” said Cathleen.
Kidron wants to pursue a career in Nonprofit Management and he hopes his AmeriCorps position will send him towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Java Joy City Manager in one of our prospective expansion cities! He has the brightest smile and is passionate about his service for our participants. Kidron has been a familiar face to ESP for many years whether it’s been on summer staff or as an intern, he can’t get enough!
As a Program Leader through Java Joy, Kidron along with his other team members facilitate job skills training to our joyristas and craft a cup of coffee all at the same time! The future looks bright for Kidron, and we’re glad we get to work alongside him to make the community a better place!
“When I take a step back and see the benefits that we are making for a population that has little access to long-term employment, it makes me very grateful to be a part of a mission that is only getting bigger,” said Kidron.
Grant has been involved with ESP for six years and didn’t want to leave quite yet. He has a profound appreciation for ESP’s ability to accept, inspire, and impact the lives of everyone involved. He is a UGA graduate and is hopefully that being an ESP AmeriCorps member will improve his teamwork skills, and give him the tools necessary to succeed in his career path in special education.
Brittney graduated from UGA with a degree in Journalism and was surprised that her first internship after graduating would be so fulfilling and eye-opening to her future endeavors! Through interning at ESP, she discovered her passion, giving individuals of all abilities the chance to work in the real world.
In her time as a Program Leader with an Employment Focus, Brittney has thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience the magic of Java Joy on a whole new level. She loves to engage in the meaningful work that her team facilitates, and transform the lives of others along the way in Atlanta!
"I love my team, and getting to grow alongside them each and every day. Leading trainings, events, and hearing stories from all of our Java Joy families has been so rewarding, and the growth is astounding," said Brittney.
Trent is from Connellsville, Pennsylvania and learned about the position through the AmeriCorps website. He has an undeniable passion for helping people thrive and feel loved. ESP and Java Joy’s mission aligned perfectly with his core values, so he decided to apply! His future goals are to pursue a career working with people with disabilities, so this job will foster the skills needed to go out in the world with transformative experiences! He works closely with Brittney in Atlanta, and they carry out our mission fearlessly.
Anne has always dreamed of a career in nonprofit and working as an AmeriCorps member for ESP will improve her interpersonal skills! She is currently working in the Rome division of Java Joy, but hopes to branch out eventually to other potential places in ESP! Anne also hopes to learn everything about programming, vocational training for adults with disabilities, and volunteer management during her time as a Program Leader.
Anne is originally from Suwanee, Georgia, and says, "New parent meetings have become one of my favorite things because I get to introduce the love, the magic, and the joy that is ESP to our new friends! Just seeing them feel accepted and excited makes me so happy!"
Ashley knew she wanted to work for an organization that serves a greater purpose and ESP fit that passion of hers. She’s originally from St. Augustine, Florida, and she heard about the AmeriCorps position through the AmeriCorps website! Ashley’s future goal is to be a clinical social worker, so the Program Leader position will help her gain the knowledge and skill set needed to work with diverse populations later on in her career.
"To be able to see first hand the growth of ESP, and see that this organization will soon become a home away from home for families outside of ESP in Watkinsville was such an impactful experience," says Ashley.
\We don’t just celebrate our AmeriCorps members this week, we celebrate them every week! They uniquely contribute and serve to make the ESP community a more accepting, aware, and knowledgeable place for people of all abilities! This incredible network of individuals is committed to improving lives and strengthening communities through their service with ESP.