SERVE Illinois Newsletter - Spring 2008 


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SERVE Illinois Newsletter - Spring 2008

Spring 2008 Serve Illinois Newsletter [PDF, 1MB]

"Dome Day" Expanded for 2008

AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn & Serve Representatives Join Together for Service and Awareness

"Dome Day" was held on April 9, 2008 with over 200 participants from National Service Programs across Illinois convening on the Illinois State Capitol Complex. Members and staff from all three national "streams of service," representing a continuum of service opportunities from grade-school children in Illinois' School-Based Learn and Serve programs, to retirees serving their community through Senior Corps programs such as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), were in attendance. Sixteen of the Commission's 21 AmeriCorps*State programs also participated.

The purpose of Dome Day was threefold:

  • To engage state level delegates in conversation around national service and active citizenship in Illinois;
  • To increase awareness among legislators and state agency officials of national service programs active throughout Illinois; and,
  • To build support for the concept of national and community service in Illinois.

The day began with a welcome address at the Illinois State Museum auditorium. After the Opening Ceremony, National Service Members and program staff divided themselves among the Springfield, Illinois service project site at the Springfield Urban League's Headstart program and nearly 40 pre-scheduled roundtables with state officials and members of the Illinois General Assembly and staff.

While Dome Day was not a lobbying event, legislators were asked to visit their local AmeriCorps programs and participate in upcoming National Days of Service, including those planned for National AmeriCorps Week. For a list of these Service Day activities, contact the Serve Illinois Commission at 800.592.9896 or email to Dome Day activities came to a close with special thanks from the day's organizers.

The Illinois Dome Day Steering Committee was comprised of Serve Illinois Commissioners and staff, representatives of the Illinois Corporation for National and Community Service office, Jumpstart Illinois, City Year Chicago and AmeriCorps Project YES!

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Message From the Secretary

The Illinois State Capitol complex was busier than usual on April 9, 2008, due to National Service programs' participants from throughout Illinois who convened in Springfield that day. While visiting the Capitol, National Service Members performed service projects and engaged in roundtable discussions with state legislators to discuss work being accomplished in communities and its positive affect on the lives of Illinois citizens.

What a difference it makes when we serve others! Whether by giving time and resources, or through more formal, stipended programs such as AmeriCorps, volunteering is important - it builds social capital like no other force. Please join the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Serve Illinois Commission in promoting these events for this year's "season of service."

We encourage everybody to volunteer at least one day during the "season of service." Help a neighbor, help in your neighborhood or dedicate some time to a community organization nearby. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve."

Please contact the Serve Illinois Commission at 800-592-9896 for more information about schedules and other initiatives of the Commission.

Thank you for joining with us to build stronger communities through service.

Carol L. Adams, Secretary Illinois Department of Human Services

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Message from the Chair

The Serve Illinois Commission is quickly moving to a new level of leadership and involvement in the state's volunteer efforts. With the appointments and re-appointments of commissioners last Fall and a bright, energetic Commission staff on board, we are in full swing for the new year. As commissioners, we are excited and busy!

On March 18th, the Commission hosted the first Volunteer Management Network (VMN) meeting for the East Central Illinois Region in Champaign and on April 1st the first West Central Illinois Region's VMN meeting was held in Macomb. At the meeting I attended in Champaign, nearly 25 leaders from Bloomington, Champaign, Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield and surrounding communities attended to learn more and to assist the Commission in bringing more structure to the often complicated network of nonprofit and volunteerism connections existing in many communities. The response has been very positive in the Commission's attempt to bring the state's volunteer experts together and strengthen volunteerism in our state. It was exciting to see such influential figures with their own important networks in the areas of youth mentoring, education, healthcare, nonprofit capacity-building, emergency preparedness and response, etc. I also want to thank the commissioners who have helped to host these initial meetings in their respective regions. More information about the VMN and upcoming meetings is on page 5 of this newsletter.

Secondly, I want to draw your attention to the good work of our AmeriCorps "LeaderCorps" members. As you may know, LeaderCorps is comprised of at least one representative from each of the Commission's 21 AmeriCorps*State programs. This year, the group is focusing their statewide coordination efforts around National AmeriCorps Week, May 11-18, 2008. They will be collaborating with AmeriCorps programs statewide to facilitate a food and clothing drive in the communities in which they serve. If you would like to partner with AmeriCorps in this venture, please send an email to

As always, it is an honor to be a part of such a great network of people and organizations serving the public good. With the good partners we have in both the "traditional" volunteerism and National Service families, Illinois is poised to realize a new level of citizen involvement in the future.

All the best, Dave Lawrence, Chair Serve Illinois Commission

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Happenings: Oak Park Named One of the Nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People

Oak Park, Illinois, has been named a winner of America's Promise Alliance's 2008 "100 Best Communities for Young People" competition. The Alliance, the nation's largest alliance dedicated to children and youth, recognizes the 100 outstanding communities across America-- large and small, rural and urban --that are the best places for young people to live and grow up. The competition, which was first held in 2005, had more than 300 communities in all 50 states apply for the honor this year. Oak Park is the only Illinois community chosen this year, although the 100 winning communities span 37 states.

All communities that completed entries in the 100 Best competition were required to submit detailed information to the Alliance on existing community programs and initiatives that help deliver the Five Promises: Caring adults, safe places, healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others, to their young people. Visit for more information about the Five Promises and 100 Best competition.

The Volunteer Center which serves Oak Park brought together more than twenty community organizations that work with children and youth to put the application together. The organizations included the public schools, faith-based organizations, governments, non-profits and local businesses.

Submitted by Abby Schmelling, Executive Director, The Volunteer

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Happenings: Congratulations Illinois Honorees!

Kathleen McGlynn of Belleville, Illinois, and Kathleen O'Dell of Blue Island, Illinois, were recently recognized for outstanding community service. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on community service. The awards are presented in conjunction with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and honor young people in grades 5 through 12. For more information or to nominate a youth in your community visit

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LeaderCorps Update

LeaderCorps, in conjunction with AmeriCorps programs and others, is planning a coordinated statewide food and clothing drive during National AmeriCorps Week.

The goal of the statewide service project is to emphasize the AmeriCorps program and the benefits of having an AmeriCorps program in communities across the state.

This year's theme, "Linking Lives in the Land of Lincoln," showcases AmeriCorps programs' unity in providing services that impact not only community, but the state as well. More than 20 programs will come together during the week to implement a food and clothing drive in their region. Dollars will be raised, press releases will be sent out, and legislators and other officials will be asked to attend the event in support of service. For more information, contact Joel Newman at 888-822-2447, or the Serve Illinois Commission at 800-592-9896.

LeaderCorps is also making great strides on our alumni initiative by gathering information to put in a database. This allows LeaderCorps to be in contact with AmeriCorps Alumni with networking and service opportunities. To date, more than 2,000 alumni have been added to the list. If you are an AmeriCorps Alumni, or know someone who is, please contact the Serve Illinois Commission and have your name added. Benefits of signing up include the Serve Illinois Newsletter and opportunities to connect with others at service day events throughout the state.

LeaderCorps initiatives are making a big impact in Illinois. The future looks bright for LeaderCorps and AmeriCorps members and programs throughout the state.

- Submitted by Joel Newman, LeaderCorps President


The mission of LeaderCorps is to connect AmeriCorps programs in Illinois through state, national and global days of service and to promote continued AmeriCorps alumni involvement.

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SeniorCorps Spotlight: The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago & RSVP of Northern Cook and Northern DuPage Counties

Local and state officials realize the need to prepare and educate residents to act when a disaster occurs. The Village of Palatine was one of the first in the nation to form a Citizen Corps Council to assist professional emergency responders by applying basic response and organizational skills during a disaster, increasing the likelihood of protecting lives. Coordinated by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), this disaster response team has accomplished the following:
  • More than 175 residents have received CERT disaster training.
  • More than 100 high school students have been trained in emergency preparedness, enabling the students to complete their community service requirements for graduation and providing another layer of protection to the community.
  • 24 RSVP volunteers participated in emergency management training.
  • RSVP volunteers taught three 20-hour CERT training classes and conducted two quarterly supplemental trainings.
  • RSVP volunteers have trained 175 volunteers that will be able to assist professional emergency personnel when a disaster occurs.

Several of these trained volunteers were called out to assist in response to heavy flooding in northern Illinois. One RSVP volunteer coordinated 1,500 volunteers during these floods! [p]These efforts are sustainable and have dramatically increased the community's ability to address local issues. [p]- Submitted by Mary Fitzgibbons, Director, The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago

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Volunteerism: Commission Rolls Out Volunteer Management Exploratory Meetings

The Serve Illinois Commission has embarked on a strategic initiative aimed at developing a regionally based, statewide infrastructure for volunteer managers across Illinois. The Illinois Volunteer Management [p]Network (VMN) seeks to cultivate an extensive array of voluntary agencies and associations, small and large, across Illinois. The purpose of the network is to help address the primary concerns of hardworking volunteer managers and administrators, including recruitment and retention of volunteers, local organizational capacity-building efforts, and ongoing training and professional development opportunities for volunteer managers -- in their own backyard.

A key facet of the VMN is its grassroots nature. The Commission believes a regional model -- a local network of public, private and nonprofit entities in five or more regions of the state -- in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services, will provide sustainability and a pragmatic problem-solving approach to the issues facing volunteer managers. The Serve Illinois Commission, while providing stability and an overall operating framework for the statewide network, will solicit local volunteerism leaders to help identify and address the primary needs of that region. The Commission will also use a series of regional network meetings as a regular feedback loop to the Commission and its staff, emphasizing both national service and "traditional" volunteerism goals.

To date, three out of five regions of the state have held meetings. The VMN-Southern Region met in Mt. Vernon in late January, the East Central Region met in Champaign in March and the West Central Region of the VMN convened in Macomb the first of April. Upcoming meetings include Northwest Illinois in Dixon on April 23rd and Northeast Illinois in Naperville on May 22nd. The second meeting of the Southern Region, including representatives from Southwestern Illinois/Metro-East area, will be on June 24th in Marion.

Since the goals of the Commission include making communities stronger through well-managed volunteer programs, improving the ability of community-based organizations to maximize their volunteer resources and increasing the number of individuals volunteering in their communities, we are working to enhance existing collaborations, form new ones and solidify the volunteerism infrastructure in Illinois. If you or a colleague would like to learn more about the VMN and how to become involved, contact the Serve Illinois Commission at 800-592-9896 or email

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Program Feature: Making Illinois Safe

The Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) AmeriCorps Program has been improving the lives of Illinois residents and providing safer Illinois communities since its inception in 2003. Members have provided direct service to more than 170,000 Illinois residents through a variety of activities including after school programming, health education, flu vaccine clinics, violence prevention education, car seat safety checks, community cleanup, and family planning and case management. Forty-eight percent of members participating in the IPHA program have also been involved in Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Each county health department in Illinois is responsible for creating emergency response plans in the event of a BioTerrorism attack, as well as for a pandemic flu outbreak. These plans include what actions each community agency (fire, policy, hospitals) will take, where citizens can go for help, how vaccines, food, etc. will be dispensed, as well as how mass casualties will be dealt with.

During their term of service, IPHA AmeriCorps members take part in a variety of activities to assess, train and prepare the communities where they serve. Members act as liaison between the health department and other community organizations. AmeriCorps members meet with agencies on a routine basis to discuss each group's responsibilities and how each segment of the population will be served. As a liaison, members also work with area agencies to coordinate, implement and evaluate emergency drills in their community.

Two AmeriCorps members serving during the 2007-08 program year are working with the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Response. "The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is excited to continue our collaborative efforts with the Illinois Public Health Association and the AmeriCorps Volunteer Program. AmeriCorps volunteers have routinely demonstrated an outstanding work ethic and enthusiasm with the capability to quickly and easily integrate into all areas of the IDPH organization," says IDPH Director, Dr. Damon Arnold. "Projects produced by AmeriCorps volunteers have both an immediate positive effect on IDPH's missions and a long lasting impact on Public Health in Illinois. The future of Public Health in Illinois will be very bright indeed if AmeriCorps volunteers are typical of the young people entering our profession today."

Another way IPHA AmeriCorps members are utilized in relation to Emergency Preparedness is in the creation and coordination of countywide Medical Reserve Corps. The Corps is a group of doctors, nurses, technicians, and mental health professionals who volunteer to help health department staff administer medication, perform triage, and provide counseling to residents in the event of an emergency. As the Corps coordinators, AmeriCorps members are responsible for recruiting and training the professional volunteers for their emergency response duties.

In addition to training professionals, the IPHA members also spend a portion of their time educating the public about the county's emergency preparedness plans. Members provide workshops to school children, civic and religious groups, and health fair attendees.

The service IPHA AmeriCorps members working in emergency preparedness provide made Illinois a leader in relation to public health emergency readiness. The plans they have created, the partnerships they have formed, and the education they have provided are a lasting testament to the importance of the Illinois Public Health AmeriCorps Program.

- Submitted by Kristen Ball, Program Director, Illinois Public Health AmeriCorps

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Training and Professional Development

Local Volunteer Management Associations

Volunteer Centers

Volunteer Centers of Illinois (VCI) is a coalition of Illinois volunteer centers that have historically been affiliated with the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network. For more information, visit

Volunteerism: Soaring to New Heights

Illinois Conference on Volunteerism Administration

May 8-9, 2008 Oak Brook Marriott Hotel Oak Brook, Illinois

Online Registration Available at

Tutor / Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference

May 29-30, 2008 Northwestern University Law School, Chicago

Visit for more information.

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Upcoming Days of Service

Date Day of Service
April 25-27, 2008 Global Youth Service Day
April 27 - May 3, 2008 National Volunteer Week
May 3, 2008 Join Hands Day
May 11 -18, 2008 National AmeriCorps Week

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Contact Us

Serve Illinois is a publication of the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service. Send articles for submission and suggestions to:

SERVE Illinois Editor
Illinois Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service
535 W. Jefferson, 3rd Floor, Springfield, IL 62702
Phone: 800-592-9896
TTY: 888-261-2713

This material is based upon work supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service under AmeriCorps Grant No. 05PTHIL001. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Corporation for National Service or the AmeriCorps program.

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