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AmeriCorps members work on Marion housing

Staff writer

AmeriCorps volunteers spent a week helping revamp apartments at Homestead Senior Living residences in Marion.

Reasons for joining the volunteer group as team members are as different as there are team members.

Luis Varela, 18, from Lindsay, California, said he wants to travel around and help people.

When his summer stint in AmeriCorps is complete, he plans to go back to college.

Alton Foreman, also 18, from Birmingham, Alabama, hopes to use his time with AmeriCorps to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

“I came for the opportunity to learn and see if I’m interested in going into construction,” Foreman said.

Genna Koshman, 20, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was at Eastern Michigan University and is looking to transfer to a different university a year from now.

In the meantime, she is going to take a year working as a Habitat For Humanity crew leader. Her experience with AmeriCorps will help her with her Habitat duties.

AmeriCorps is a federal service program designed to improve lives and foster civic engagement.

Members can get student loan deferment and develop skills that can lead to career opportunities.

They receive a living allowance and limited health benefits.

When their term is over, they get an education award to help with college, graduate school, or vocational training, or repay student loans.

Brian Boeckman, single family coordinator and volunteer coordinator for Homestead, said this is the second year the non-profit organization has used AmeriCorps volunteers to defray the cost of work on Homestead’s network of senior and low-income living facilities.

AmeriCorps offers work teams in both spring and fall, Boeckman said.

“Most stuff they are doing right now is in Holton,” Boeckman said. “We partner with them because they have programs to improve housing, and we do housing. We have to submit an application for each team and we either get accepted or not. AmeriCorps decides if we fit their work or not.”

Boeckman said the team’s work at Marion will be finished by contractors hired by Homestead.

“Tom Bishop, the CEO of the company, thought it would be a good idea to partner with them to reduce the amount of money spent,” Boeckman said. “It benefits us from the standpoint of getting the labor part of it. We can use these kids on projects throughout our communities. We build wheelchair ramps and things like that.”

AmeriCorps workers helped revamp four single-bedroom apartments into two spacious two-bedroom apartments.

They stripped flooring from a kitchen in each pair of apartments, removed walls to open a large living area from what used to be two living rooms, patched and painted walls, removed kitchen fixtures, and sealed plumbing connections.

Besides apartments and duplexes in Marion, Homestead owns 13 senior complexes and buildings in Derby and houses for low-income families in Holton.

Marion economic development director Randy Collett helped arrange activities for AmeriCorps members’ off-duty time, including time at the Sports and Aquatic Center and at regional recreation attractions.

Last modified May 31, 2018

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