LeaderCorps Expands Impact of National Service in Florida

Our LeaderCorps program is comprised of approximately 20 service leaders throughout Florida. As active AmeriCorps members, they are responsible for participating in leadership training and executing a local service project, while increasing awareness of national service in the state.

Read below to learn more about a few of our LeaderCorps members’ recent events and projects.

Katie Shaneyfelt, The Arc Jacksonville

In 2014, One Million Yards for Yeardley was established by three women on the Boston College and University of Virginia lacrosse teams, honoring Yeardley Love, a fellow teammate who was killed as a result of relationship abuse. They dedicated their pre-season training to One Love and the organization’s newfound, yet critical, mission to teach young people to “Love Better.”

Now, organizations and groups across the country are participating in the Yards for Yeardley campaign, pledging to walk a specific number of yards to keep Yeardley’s memory alive and raise awareness of unhealthy relationship behaviors.

Recently, the Arc Jacksonville’s LeaderCorps member, Katie Shaneyfelt, hosted a Yards for Yeardley event. The Arc Jacksonville serves locals with intellectual and developmental differences (IDD), enabling them to live independently and achieve their full potential. Yards for Yeardley is particularly important to Katie and her peers at the Arc Jacksonville, as individuals with IDD are seven times more likely to be in an unhealthy relationship than those without IDD.

There were a wide range of volunteers who walked and volunteered to help ensure the event’s success. Among them were representatives from the Arc Jacksonville (including several AmeriCorps members) and ImpactJAX – the young professionals organization of the JAX Chamber – as well as One Love high school ambassadors.  With 100 walkers in attendance and 40 virtual walkers, more than 500,000 yards were pledged.

“Katie’s love for the IDD community, passion for the mission of One Love and excitement during the Yards for Yeardley event is what made it so special,” said walker from ImpactJAX. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with her and the rest of the team at the Arc Jacksonville.”

Geraldo Maldonado, Florida State Parks

The Florida Conservation Corps, a division of Florida State Parks, provides hands-on learning opportunities designed to prepare future leaders in the fields of land management, cultural preservation, resource-based recreation and park facility management.

One of Florida State Park’s LeaderCorps members, Geraldo Maldonado, recently hosted an event at Savannas Preserve State Park, located along the coast in Southeast Florida. The event was intended to strengthen the relationship between the park and surrounding communities. It showcased the parks’ many resources and recognized local stewardship-based organizations.

After enjoying prescribed fire demonstrations, animal shows and presentations and nature hikes, community members developed an appreciation for Savannas Preserve State Park and a better understanding of how their actions directly impact not just the park, but the environment as a whole.

“I walked away with a new perspective,” said a community member who attended the event. “Whether I realize it or not, I am personally responsible for preserving and protecting the environment.”

Mai Sleiman, Polk Education Foundation

Mai Sleiman, the LeaderCorps member with the Polk Education Foundation – an AmeriCorps program that provides one-on-one tutoring to elementary school students – recently engaged her fellow AmeriCorps members, as well as 97 local volunteers, in a beautification project at Kingsford Elementary School. School faculty and staff participated as well.

With $6,000 in donations, they cleaned the grounds and added bright colors to the landscaping, creating an inviting campus for all to enjoy.

“The students will love this!” said a first grade teacher who participated in the project. “I think it will motivate them to take care of all the flower beds and instill a sense of pride in their school.”

Fredlyn Coquemar, Communities in Schools of Miami

Under the guidance of LeaderCorps member, Fredlyn Coquemar, AmeriCorps members and reading tutors with Communities in Schools of Miami (CIS Miami) recently completed a beautification project at His House Children’s Home, the primary provider of residential and foster care services in Miami Gardens.

In addition to removing dead roots and planting flowers and other greenery, they painted over the planter boxes and wrote words of positivity on the stepping stones located in the garden. The children that His House serves were also encouraged to participate and some even left their painted hand prints on the stones.

“Now, these children have a beautiful, low-maintenance garden that they can play in and go to whenever they need uplifting,” said a CIS Miami AmeriCorps member.