AmeriCorps3, AmeriCorps4:Back in the fall, NVCC AmeriCorps members helped close Fulton Farm for the winter.
Waterbury AmeriCorps is becoming a familiar name around town and a friendly one at that. According to John Corcoran, the program’s coordinator who helped launch the partnership between the city of Waterbury and Naugatuck Valley Community College, the volunteer-based group of 35 community advocates is close to reaching full-swing a mere 7 months after receiving its initial funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service in September 2011.
At its core, Waterbury AmeriCorps is a mentoring program in which volunteers work directly with “at-risk” middle school students in the Waterbury Public School system. Volunteers include students from NVCC and UCONN Waterbury along with members of the community who want to make an impact on the lives of local school children. Members volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., Family Services of Greater Waterbury, Salvation Army and the Children’s Community School as well as city schools.
In addition to mentoring, members are also charged with creating and implementing community service projects that promote volunteerism in Waterbury. In the fall, while the mentoring program was being developed, Corcoran had a chance to grow this dimension of the AmeriCorps mission with Susan Pronovost ofBrass City Harvest, LLC.
“The mayor’s office helped connect me with Sue and the urban agriculture projects she ran throughout the City,” said Corcoran. “At the time, she was closing Fulton Farm for the winter and we had the numbers to help get it done much more quickly.”
Fulton Farm is a sustainable urban vegetable garden in Waterbury’s 75-acre Fulton Park. Produce from the farm is donated to Waterbury food kitchens.
“Our partnership started there and we’ve continued to stay in touch,” said Corcoran.
Last month, AmeriCorps members constructed raised garden beds for the South End Neighborhood Association to grow a supplemental food supply, which will help provide 12 low-income families with their own produce throughout the summer, according to Pronovost.
“These residents do not have access to a yard so that they can grow their own food,” she said in a thank you letter to NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. “The work of these students will give some very needy households an advantage they could only have dreamed of.”
In addition to Brass City Harvest, AmeriCorps members have also helped clean, paint and revamp the Boys and Girls Club under its new leadership. This May, they will help organize and staff the CT Food Bank’s “Walk for Hunger,” the Waterbury Tulip Festival and the Children’s Community School 5k Road Race. They will also provide a team to help piece together “Waterbury’s Largest Community Mosaic”, part of the state’s City Canvases Initiative.
“AmeriCorps is a genuine reflection of the connection between the community and community colleges,” said President De Filippis. “Together we have the power to transform lives and families, to create meaningful pathways for people to give generously, and to help people transition out of poverty. I’m very proud of the work being done by AmeriCorps to encourage partnerships across the City.”
For more information on AmeriCorps, visit:www.nv.edu keyword “AmeriCorps”.
Naugatuck Valley Community College was established in 1992 with the merging of Waterbury State Technical College and Mattatuck Community College as a public, two-year, associate degree granting, co-educational, non-residential institution. Approximately 11,000 degree and 5,000 non-degree students enroll annually in over 100 accredited and non-credit lifelong learning programs at the College to fulfill their educational goals. NVCC is one of 17 institutions governed by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. The College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education and several programs maintain specialized accreditations. The College is located on a 110-acre campus at 750 Chase Parkway, Waterbury, Connecticut, at exit 18 off Interstate 84 near the junction of Route 8 and in Danbury at 183 Main Street and WestConn. Visitnvcc.commnet.edu for more information.