No. 48 winter 2000/2001

"No matter what the state of a river, I find beauty, desecration and sometimes a perplexing combination. I am never interested in showing just the beauty or just the mess we've made. Both things are true. Both interest me because they are there." Karen Halverson, noted photographer


     Americorps has been described as a domestic Peace Corps. It is one of several community service programs administered by the Federal government under the Corporation for National Service. The motto of Americorps is "Give back for a year. Serve your community. Change your life." Americorps members train volunteers, tutor and mentor at-risk youth, build housing, clean up rivers and streams, help seniors live independently, help provide disaster assistance and meet other community needs.

     In Massachusetts, more than 73,000 people of all ages and backgrounds are helping solve problems and improve communities through 101 service projects across the state. This year more than 1,100 Americorps members will spend a year working on community service programs in Massachusetts. In return they will receive an education award of up to $4,725 to help pay for college or pay back student loans.

     Over the past few years, Americorps, through the Massachusetts Community Water Watch program, has provided support for clean water projects and environmental education across the state. ChicRWC is one organization that has benefited from the participation of these student organizers. Last year Allison Matthies and Chris Sullivan organized one of our largest and most successful river clean up days to date. Since completeing her Americorps obligation Allison has stayed on as a ChicRWC director.

     This year Americorps member Kari Vigerstol is working with ChicRWC to organize another cleanup day. Kari is also speaking to classes in local schools about water quality issues. Kari expects to be joined by local officials and community members in these discussions. As an organizer for the programs in Western Massachusetts she said, "We're trying to create awareness among the students from grades K through 8 about the importance of water and how communities are connected by water."