Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier was joined by PennSERVE Executive Director Maureen Eccleston to spotlight the COVID relief efforts of PennSERVE and AmeriCorps members that continue to aid Pennsylvanians in need. PennSERVE, overseen by L&I, has been mobilized by the Wolf Administration since the early days of the pandemic to respond to humanitarian aspects of the crisis.
"When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, AmeriCorps members recognized they would need to step up instead of back," said Berrier. "AmeriCorps members have played an essential role in helping Pennsylvanians adjust to pandemic life. They've helped deliver meals to young people who rely on school meals, provided interaction and support to older Pennsylvanians who were in isolation, assisted with contact tracing, assisted with the vaccination effort, and so much more."
Two thousand Pennsylvanians will serve in AmeriCorps this year, and 1,300 of them are supported directly by PennSERVE. Many PennSERVE members quickly worked to transition from in-person to remote work and modified projects to target specific areas of need that arose as the result of the pandemic. The community service programs include:
- Assisting with contact tracing
- Distributing meals to young people who rely on school meals
- Providing support to teachers and children in virtual classrooms
- Offering virtual college preparation for high school students
- Leading virtual financial literacy education programs
- Teaching virtual English as a Second Language classes to immigrants and refugees
- Providing interaction and support to older adults in isolation
- Supporting vaccination distribution programs
Last year, AmeriCorps members served at over 615 different locations across the commonwealth including schools, nonprofits, city and county parks, and government agencies.
"AmeriCorps members in Pennsylvania have never stopped serving throughout this pandemic," said Eccleston. "The service that AmeriCorps members provide is essential to holding our communities together during a crisis and to ensuring that we have a fighting chance at recovery."
To support AmeriCorps members while they aided Pennsylvanians, PennSERVE provided virtual workshops to enable members the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills even while some experienced a decrease in direct service opportunities during mitigation restrictions. Workshops included interviewing and resume skills, mindfulness, and self-care. Similar workshops were made available as part of the 2021 Virtual AmeriCorps Week Conference.]
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