Local Resident Begins 10-Month Journey of Service


VINTON, Iowa – John Warren, originally from Newark, New Jersey, has joined 220 other individuals from across the United States in Vinton, Iowa, where they are devoting the next 10 months to giving back to communities in the North Central Region of the United States.

Warren has been serving with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program, since Feb. 5, 2013. Since arriving, Warren and the other members have gone through an intensive training to prepare them for serving in communities. This four-week training period emphasized teamwork, leadership development, communication, diversity and service learning. During this time, members were also assigned to one of 20 teams. Each team serves on average on four-seven projects during their term of service with NCCC.

On March 8, 2013, NCCC members completed their training and were officially inducted into the AmeriCorps NCCC program with the ceremony being held at Vinton-Shellsburg High School Auditorium. On Monday, March 11, NCCC teams left Vinton to begin serving on their first NCCC service project.

Warren and his team are serving with Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Erskine, Minn. until April 25. On this project, the team is assisting Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge with prescribed burning, invasive species removal, biological surveys for water fowl and prairie chickens, trail clearing, and tree planting. In addition, the team is assisting in the installation of four accessible blinds to allow visitors to view the wildlife.

Prior to joining NCCC, Warren graduated from Youthbuild Newark in August 2011. Warren joined NCCC because he believes it will allow him to change many lives.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 1,100 young adults serve nationwide each year. During their 10-month term, NCCC Members – all 18 to 24 years old – work on teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. Members mentor students, construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans, and address countless other local needs. The North Central Region campus in Vinton, Iowa is one of five regional campuses in the United States and serves Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The other campuses are located in Perry Point, Md.; Sacramento, Calif.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Denver, Colo.

In exchange for their service, NCCC Members receive $5,550 to help pay for college, or to pay back existing student loans. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, increased self-confidence, and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, people can indeed make a difference. AmeriCorps NCCC is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Corporation improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, visit the website at www.americorps.gov/nccc.

Councilman Sharif Gets to Know YBN; Talks About Service Partnership

YBN frequently invites community leaders to meet with students to help expand students’ understanding of leadership and the unique role youth play in revitalizing their communities. So, when Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif agreed to personally facilitate a Community Ambassador training for students, students were excited.

On Thursday, April 4, 2013, Councilman Sharif joined YBN students and staff at the Newark YMWCA to discuss partnering around community-building. Michael Bright, the Newark YMWCA’s President and CEO, offered welcoming remarks, emphasizing the importance of volunteerism as a way to stand out in a competitive workplace. For several years, YBN and the YMWCA have collaborated around service. Most recently, students helped construct a lounge for YMWCA staff.

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Select YBN students – Aaron McQuiller, Chareese Rice, and Khaleemah Porter – led an introduction to the YBN program. They began by facilitating “Morning Circle,” a process during which those who are present express how they are feeling, and the recitation of YBN’s philosophy. After a brief introduction to the YBN model – including its five (5) program components, Aaron, Chareese, and Khaleemah each shared their personal reasons for applying to the YouthBuild program. While each student had a different narrative, all three students shared a similar commitment to using YBN as a vehicle to improve their lives. Aaron stated, “YB helped me to build. I feel like I have a goal for myself. I’m trying to claim that.”

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With this, Councilman Sharif was compelled to share his personal journey as well. Students listened attentively as he described how he had progressed from dropping out of college to eventually graduating from Rutgers University Newark magna cum laude and becoming a public servant. At the end of his story, the Councilman emphasized the importance of accountability, whether it is to one’s self, family, and/or the community.

Councilman Sharif subsequently conducted a presentation on the Adopt-A-Lot program, an initiative in which residents, local agencies and non-profit organizations transform vacant lots into community gardens. Noting YBN’s role in revitalizing communities, Councilman Sharif was very interested in having YBN students join the effort. Noting the dwindling supply of resources, the Councilman stressed the importance of partnerships and service as a way to address numerous community needs.

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Yet, beyond partnering for community building, Councilman Sharif expressed his interest in exposing students to as many opportunities as he could, including, potentially transporting students on a tour of Princeton University. “We’re going to have a long relationship and do a lot of things,” he stated.

At the close of the Councilman’s presentation, students posed questions about various city issues including teacher tenure and its impact on student success, support services for pregnant teens who desire to stay in school, recreational options for youth in light of community resources (e.g. the Littleton Avenue Boys and Girls Club) fading, and solicited guidance on future goals. Councilman Sharif offered thorough, thought-provoking responses and a healthy dose of well-placed humor. When he concluded by expressing his hope that students would partner with him, students collectively offered an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Students then presented the Councilman with a hardhat covered by decals that represent students’ achievement of benchmarks in the vocational component of the program.

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Students were also personally invited to attend the State of the Central Ward Address on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at Science Park High School, with special seating and transportation provided to and from the site.

YBN foresees a lengthy and mutually-fulfilling relationship with Councilman Sharif and looks forward to cultivating a partnership.

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To learn more about Councilman Sharif, click here.

To learn more about the Adopt-A-Lot program, click here.