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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 22, 200912:00 PM EST

AmeriCorps will recognize volunteers

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County Court Judge Eleni Derke will swear in more than 220 North Florida AmeriCorps members this afternoon at the Hyatt. The ceremony is part of the North Florida AmeriCorps Regional launch, which is put on in conjunction with the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Volunteer Florida) and Communities in Schools.

The program starts at 11:30 a.m. and Derke will conduct the swearing-in ceremony at approximately 1:15 p.m.

The events marks the commencement of a year of intensive service for North Florida’s new and returning AmeriCorps members.

Volunteer Florida CEO Wendy Spencer will deliver the keynote address.

AmeriCorps, sometimes called the “Domestic Peace Corps,” is a national service program providing opportunities for members to dedicate a year or two of their lives to intensive public service to meet critical needs in their communities. AmeriCorps member activities include:

• Tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth

• Fighting illiteracy

• Building affordable housing

• Teaching computer skills

• Cleaning parks and streams

• Managing or operating after-school programs

• Helping communities respond to disasters

• Building organizational capacity

The more than 220 new and returning AmeriCorps members represent the following programs:

• AmeriCorps Duval READS!

• AmeriCorps English Coaches

• AmeriCorps Gadsden Reads

• AmeriCorps Florida State Parks (Duval, Columbia and Leon counties and St. Augustine)

• AmeriCorps Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville

• AmeriCorps North Florida Health Corps

• AmeriCorps Putnam Reads

• AmeriCorps St. Johns Reads

“Governor (Charlie) Crist is a great supporter of volunteerism and service to others, and there’s an excellent reason for that,” said Spencer. “Because of the yearlong commitment to serve, every

AmeriCorps member is making a great sacrifice to help improve Florida’s communities.”

The North Florida regional launch is sponsored by AIG Retirement, Citibank, Curves, Enterprise, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, The Let Us Play! Foundation, NAVY College Office — NAS Jacksonville, Navy Federal Credit Union, NAVY Lodge — Mayport, Southern Illinois University, St. Leo University, USO Naval Station Mayport, Walmart, and Webster University.

The Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Volunteer Florida) was established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature to administer grants under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Commission grants funds to Florida AmeriCorps and National Service programs; encourages volunteerism for everyone from youth to seniors to people with disabilities; promotes volunteerism for disaster preparedness and response; and supports the Governor’s priorities through the creation of innovative volunteer programs.

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