PHOTO | Damara Hale
“Community service really does impact the people around you,” Codi Crowe, an AmeriCorps member, said.
Project Empowerment is a service project sponsored by the AmeriCorps Tutoring program in Russellville. The goal of Project Empowerment is to encourage over 2,000 students in four different middle and junior high schools. Each of the motivational and encouraging cards will be passed out to the students at Russellville Middle School, Dover Middle School, Clinton Junior High School and the Morrilton Intermediate School.
Volunteers gathered recently in the Hull Student Union to work on the encouragement project.
Alexis Wilf, AmeriCorps mentor and volunteer, said she hopes the cards have an impact on the students.
“We’re reaching out to students, making sure they feel welcome in the community,” Wilf said. “I feel like there’s kind of a disconnect and it’s encouraging to like be social and make friends, you know that they’re worth something and they’re important.”
The target amount to reach for the event was to make 10,000 cards, one for each student for each day of National Volunteer Week in April.
Breanna Hiatt, Ameri Corps leader for the tutoring and mentoring program, said each theme is of the cards is to provide daily encouragement.
“Each day is a different thing,” Hiatt said. “Monday is Motivational Monday, Tuesday is Good News Tuesday, Wednesday is Wacky Wednesday, Thursday is Thankful Thursday and Friday is Feel Good Friday.”
AmeriCorps volunteers provided examples for each of the day’s themes to get everyone started. For Motivational Monday a few examples given were “Be amazing today!” “Don’t give up!” or “Kindness is magic!” to help inspire the kids to start the week off right.
For most of the volunteers, having the opportunity to spread encouragement to a younger generation held a stronger sense of empowerment.
“By making these cards, though it may not seem like a lot to you, this is gonna mean a lot to the kid who gets one of these cards. If maybe they’re having a bad day or just really down on themselves, they get this card and that’s gonna make their entire day better,” Crowe said.
Sara Jondahl, project empowerment volunteer, said the event impacted her, as well.
“How simple it is, just one card, even though like for us, I’ve done pretty much the same saying on a lot of the cards,” Jondahl said, “knowing that that’s going to impact and put a smile on someone’s face.”
Attendees of the event included the Ameri Corps volunteers, Russellville Fire Department, Russellville Mayor Fred Teague, Russellville Fire Department, Tech Public Safety, members of the Russellville and Tech community along with the special guest appearance of the Tech campus ambassador, Jerry the Bulldog II.
Sgt. Jacob Boen, Tech Public Safety officer and volunteer, said he appreciated the efforts of everyone involved in the project.
“The best takeaway is the amount of people that have come so far and are willing to take time out of their day to complete these acts of kindness, for these children” Boen said. “It could mean the world to them.”