“Talking Glass” Audible Stories on Signals AZ made possible by The Fain Signature Group – Celebrating 60 Years of Community Building
Prescott and Tucson, Arizona – Nolan Rose has a new crate ready to go. He is in the backyard of one of the Iskashitaa Refugee Network supporters picking Seville oranges that will go to food banks and community kitchens throughout Tucson.
Madison Link is straightening the baking soda box and bottle of vinegar on her table. She is ready to press play and engage kids now learning from home in another interactive GEM Environmental science experiment.
Rose and Link are filling shifting vital roles in response to COVID-19 as AmeriCorps members through Arizona Serve of Prescott College. They are responding to the immediate needs of the pandemic’s ripple effects and also giving themselves a leg up in the shrinking job market. For Iskashitaa and GEM Environmental, it is a unique opportunity to make their nonprofit organizations thrive even during this potentially crippling financial time.
Arizona Serve has over 100 AmeriCorps members like Rose and Link creating meaningful interventions in over 45 nonprofit or governmental agencies in Yavapai and Pima County.
GEM Environmental is one such non-profit organization in Prescott, Arizona that helps provide students in the STEM fields with field experience as well as other educational resources they might not be able to access. Last year, GEM Environmental partnered with Arizona Serve for their MLK Day of Service to build two raised garden beds for the Prescott Unified School District’s Family Resource Center. The experience initiated further collaboration.
“We may be a small grassroots organization, but those roots continually grow stronger thanks to our partnership with Arizona Serve and the continuing hard work of their AmeriCorps members,” said Eric Welsh Executive Director of GEM Environmental.
Since then, Arizona Serve established an official partnership with GEM Environmental and created an AmeriCorps VISTA position as well as three AmeriCorps State positions at the organization. In just one year, the four have helped GEM reach 500 students, deliver five
outreach presentations, and organize eight guest lectures. They have also increased exposure to their scholarship program, which has awarded eight undergraduate and graduate students.
“Serving as a VISTA for GEM has taught me how to create sustainable programs that are designed to target those that would benefit the most,” said Link, the AmeriCoprs VISTA Program Coordinator for GEM Environmental. “My experience has allowed me to grow
exponentially and I’ve been given more opportunities to expand on my skills through the responsibilities I’ve been given at GEM.”
Iskashitaa Refugee Network in a local non-profit that combines food preservation with refugee relief in Tucson, Arizona. Rose served as an AmeriCorps State member where he collected almost 50,000 lbs of fruits and vegetables, coordinated over 50 harvesting projects, managed over 400 volunteers, and provided job training to over 200 disadvantaged individuals and youth in just one year.
“I think my AmeriCorps service position led me to develop both my professional skills and my work values,” said Rose AmeriCorps Refugee Program Support Specialist. “As a new graduate, I was given priceless opportunities to practice taking leadership and initiative in problem-solving around the office. Additionally, I learned that I deeply value work that advances the public interest and creates a more robust community.”
Rose helped to initiate harvesting projects with members of Arizona Serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AmeriCorps members harvested 1,250 lbs of citrus at three different harvesting projects. Rose successfully completed his AmeriCorps service and has been hired on full time as a passport specialist for the State Department of Arizona.
“ This combination of professional skills and work values propelled me to take an opportunity locally in Tucson to work as a public servant in the State Department. I use the words ‘public servant’ with a new sense of appreciation for how our government can provide excellent
services to its citizens while humbly serving its community in a manner that promotes civic engagement. Due to my time with AmeriCorps, I am more deeply invested in the Tucson community and its development.”
Arizona Serve of Prescott College is continuing partnerships throughout the pandemic and beyond. If you are a nonprofit, government agency, school, or faith-based organization who would like to leverage AmeriCorps resources, please reach out to Annie Refisnyder at
520-329-7613 in Prescott and Ann Drazkowski at (928) 848-7869 in Tucson. If part-time or full-time service sounds like an interesting way to spend your next year, please look at our current openings at arizonaserve.org/apply/ or email us at [email protected].