AmeriCorps volunteers help at city

A shovel head, a few clubs, about 200 golf balls and a couple of birds’ nests is what AmeriCorps volunteers have found in few days worth of pulling blackberry briers along Boise Creek at the Enumclaw Golf Course.

The 10 young people represent the states of Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and California. For seven of them, it was their first visit to the Evergreen state.

“Everyone said it was going to be beautiful, but you never believe it until you see it,” said Angela Zgela, one of the seven. She calls Illinois home, but will be entering graduate school at the University of Southern Florida in the fall.

This group has been working together since October and are nearing the end of their 10-month commitment. So far, they’ve rebuilt homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina in one of the hardest hit parishes. They worked with elementary school children in Sacramento, Calif., and their next stop is to work in a community garden in Oregon.

The California stop proved fruitful for two of the 10, who were using their AmeriCorps experience to help them decide on a career path. They, one a recent high school graduate, the other a recent college graduate, are looking at the education field now.

Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds. Participants can also earn an education award, which at the end of service will pay about $5,000 toward a government student loan or college tuition.

According to Brandi Christman of the Enumclaw Parks and Recreation Department, using AmeriCorps volunteers was the brainchild of Jessica Beckwith, herself a volunteer with the organization who worked part-time with the parks department while home visiting her family in Enumclaw. Their week of service began June 16.

“It’s a pretty cool deal,” Christman said. “These are 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids volunteering their time.”

Christman said community groups like the Men’s Club and Boys Scouts have been helpful at the golf course, but the AmeriCorps volunteers have been able to plow through a single, extensive project in a short period of time.

The volunteers room and board is covered through AmeriCorps. They have been staying in accommodations at the Expo Center grounds and were looking forward to a couple of days off for sightseeing in Seattle and at Mount Rainier.

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