EL CENTRO – AmeriCorps held its 25th annual swearing in ceremony Friday at the Imperial County Courthouse as 39 Imperial County residents pledged to be an AmeriCorps member over this next year.
AmeriCorps is a non-profit organization dedicated to making the community stronger, healthier and smarter, according to team leaders Salvador Martinez and Dennis Vargas. The agency strives to provide services to better the communities.
The 39 new members are tutoring local students and will continue the work through the yearlong commitment. Their primary focus is helping students in high school and grades kindergarten through eighth with oral English, vocabulary development, and special education.
Ashley Orozco, a first year AmeriCorps member, said her job as a member did not begin at the swearing-in ceremony. She began her AmeriCorps journey in August with orientation, followed by training, and then was placed at a specific site to begin her work.
“It’s not just about the paycheck for us,” said Orozco. “I like that we focus on kids and we do a lot of community work. It’s great to work with kids and know that we are making a difference.”
AmeriCorps members receive a monthly living allowance for their services. After their commitment of one year is fulfilled, they receive educational awards to support their college education.
Miriam Belopolsky, the AmeriCorps program director, explained that the program in Imperial Valley was only one out of 57 programs in the state of California. About 4,000 members were sworn in throughout California on Friday.
“We are part of a much bigger effort. AmeriCorps is about service, and there’s no greater purpose than serving,” said Belopolsky.
Judge William D. Quan led the swearing in of the new members. He expressed his gratitude to the members for their dedication to the community. He also explained the importance of service and how the Imperial Valley community benefits from the AmeriCorps members.
“Service is the giving of yourself to your community,” said Judge Quan.