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AmeriCorps members return to Crossroads

Crossroads for Youth resident Nate D. (from left) AmeriCorps NCCC member Gordo King and Crossroads resident John S. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - Crossroads for Youth had such a wonderful time with members from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) earlier this year, they invited them back for a second stint.

President of Crossroads for Youth Dr. Janet McPeek described the first visit from AmeriCorps NCCC, which took place from mid-January to late-February of this year, being "so positive for the residents in our program."

"We wanted to replicate that again," she added.

So an invitation went out for AmeriCorps to come back, and a second group arrived on Tuesday, June 8 ready to help where needed until they depart on July 16.

She added that the focus for AmeriCorps NCCC members was different this time because of the time of year the group came.

In the winter, the group focused on remodeling a building and turning it into a residential unit.

This time, the group will assist Crossroads staff by implementing summer/fall programming for at risk youth in attendance, repair roofs and create nature binders.

AmeriCorps NCCC members spent the first couple of weeks removing shingles from one of the buildings.

"Since this is a non-profit, they really don't have a lot of the resources to get everything accomplished in a timely manner," said AmeriCorp NCCC member Seph Burgweger. "They have two maintenance guys here and re-shingling would take forever for just two guys, but with a 12 person team it goes a lot quicker."

"We are on such a tight budget that the work they do side-by-side with our maintenance crew renovating buildings has really moved us ahead on a lot of projects we could have never had done," McPeek said.

In addition to roof work, the group is also creating a nature binder that Crossroads will use in the future.

"They worked with the forester who has been helping us and put together some really unique materials cataloging the kinds of natural resources that are here on campus that we will be able to use for a long time to come," McPeek said.

"It mainly gives descriptions about trees in the area and wildlife that they can find while taking a hike on the property," explained Burgweger.

McPeek said that the Crossroads staff is encouraging the AmeriCorp NCCC members to relax and enjoy their one on one time with the kids. "We didn't want them to worry so much about who is participating and who isn't participating...they aren't there to provide supervision for the kids. We do that," McPeek said.

McPeek has been amazed at the relationships that have been formed between the residents, staff and AmeriCorp NCCC members .

"Coming to Crossroads, we were given some training on what the kids might be like, so we were a little worried that we might get these kids that were terrible," said Burgweger. "Once you get here, you realize that the kids are really just kids that have gotten in trouble with the law."

Back at the first AmeriCorp NCCC members farewell lunch, they told those in attendance how much their lives had changed after interacting with the residents at Crossroads.

"We get attached to them and they get attached to us...we worked really hard at trying to create an experience for them that they will take with them for the rest of their lives," McPeek said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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