Parkside Students Build Capacity at Local Nonprofits
The UW-Parkside AmeriCorps program is a community service program for currently enrolled UW-Parkside students to serve with local non-profit agencies. The AmeriCorps members increase capacity building for these partner organizations (Recreational Activities for the Developmentally Disabled (RADD), the ARC of Racine County, United Way of Kenosha County, ELCA Outreach Center) through recruiting additional volunteers, and helping to improve volunteer management practices. The 2014-2015 program saw four UW-Parkside students completing 450 hours of service. As the term of service for the AmeriCorps members ends this August, we will be publishing a feature on each AmeriCorps member to highlight their work.
Kaitlyn Bjerk, working under Executive Director Tracy Nielsen at the United Way of Kenosha County, has just completed her sophomore year at Parkside where she is majoring in Criminal Justice in addition to working towards a Community-Based Learning Certificate. Kaitlyn was drawn to the program because, "I wanted to expand my knowledge, learn new skills, experience working for a non-profit, help my community through service, and create new connections with people in my community. It was also a great way to keep myself doing something positive and a great way to be more productive."
While working at the United Way, Kaitlyn has helped to recruit volunteers through promoting opportunities on the organization's website and social media accounts. She has also developed and implemented procedure for managing these volunteers to ensure they have a rewarding service experience. These new practices will help greatly with volunteer retention in the future. Her work at the United Way has also benefited Kaitlyn personally, as it has provided some guidance for her future career plans. "I know where I fit and where I want to be. Non-profit organizations, public service, and working for the greater good of the community are where I will find myself to be in the future. Without my AmeriCorps service I would not have been introduced and acquainted with such work. I am very grateful to have been able to serve, learn, and grow."