AmeriCorps–Good Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed

by Bob Moore

Well, here goes nothing – first time blogging for me!

When Anne Schink of the Maine Commission for Community Service contacted me last November to see if I would be interested in becoming a “Guest Blogger” for VolunteerMaine.org, my first question was, “What do I have to do?” Anne was pretty persuasive – a valuable skill in volunteer recruitment – plus I feel a certain indebtedness to the MCCS and AmeriCorps. Our organization wouldn’t be close to where we are today without them. Another important factor – January 28, 2008 (my first post date) seemed sooooo far off!

My experience with blogging is minimal – reading (never responding) to Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s blog. Then I decided to google the “world’s oldest blogger” and came across 107 year-old Olive Riley of Australia, who started a blog of her own in February 2007. Though she refers to it as her “blob”, I figured that if Olive could blog, I might stand a chance after all.

Many of you may be aware of the AmeriCorps-State positions that are coordinated in Maine through the MCCS. But did you know that AmeriCorps has another arm – the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)?

In 2003 when I was hired as our first employee – no staff, no volunteers, no office – we looked to staff a team of local high school youth to work on shoreline protection projects. When our efforts to obtain sufficient funding hit a wall, one of our Board members mentioned that his daughter-in-law had been a member of a program called AmeriCorps in the early 1990’s – even met with President Clinton during the first year that the program was started. I contacted her the next day, she told me about her incredible experience as a first year member of the NCCC, and put me in touch with a former teammate of hers who was now Project Coordinator for the Perry Point, MD region. The rest, as they say, is history.

Twelve young adults from all across America landed on our shores during that summer of 2003 to staff our first Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) – and we haven’t looked back since. After NCCC teams were also awarded to us in 2004 and 2005, we added our own local YCC in 2005; 2008 will be our fourth year employing twelve area students as YCC members. With funding obtained from member donations, local business sponsorships and private and public grants, we used that first AmeriCorps experience to help create an annual, sustainable effort.

It gets better. In 2004, we were introduced to the AmeriCorps*State program through the MCCS and the Training Resource Center in Portland. Through the TRC, we were awarded seasonal AmeriCorps positions to oversee our growing program needs. I can honestly say that we would not have been able to afford this type of skilled service on the open market, and the quality of personnel we have had every year has been outstanding. We are now transitioning these positions as well to seasonal, full-time staff as our funding sources allow. I’d like to think that we have provided these Corps members with a valuable experience as well as we have integrated them not only into our organization, but into our community as well.

Five years ago, I had never heard of AmeriCorps – now you can’t stop me from singing their virtues. Let me know if you have any similar stories or need further information on how we worked through the process. You’ll be glad you did.

Bob Moore is Executive Director of the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed in Augusta, Maine.

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6 Responses to AmeriCorps–Good Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed

  1. Judi Stebbins says:

    Bob..Congratulations on your blog!! What a great way to let the world know what is happening in the Kennebec region. I am a commissioner for or of MCCS and although I try to keep up with what’s going on, sometimes things slip through the cracks. YOU AND THE PROGRAMS OF NCCC ETC. ARE WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!!! YOU AND YOUR PROGRAMS are what will spread the great benefits of volunteering on any level. Thanks for venturing into blogging!!! This response is my first attempt…wouldn’t have tried it at all without your news! Keep it up!! The work you are doing is very much appreciated…judi

  2. Carla Ganiel says:

    Bob, my two terms as an AmeriCorps member changed my life. Host organizations play a critical role in the quality of members’ experiences, and I have no doubt that your organization did indeed provide a valuable experience for those who served there.

    Carla

  3. Anne Schink says:

    Bob is about as creative as anyone in ways to put AmeriCorps to work to advance the mission of his organization. The Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed has used AmeriCorps members to leverage the work of the community volunteers in building the organization at the same time the AmeriCorps members get real world experience with both the environment and the nonprofit organization.

    Bob’s business experience in using marketing strategies to bring attention to the environmental issues in water quality are examples to all of us.

    It isn’t always enough to ‘do good’ without telling a compelling story at the same time.

  4. Cory True says:

    Bob,

    Welcome to the blogging world!

    Having worked with the Friends for the past several summers at all levels (everything from being captain of “the ice cream boat” (and floating classroom) to serving as membership and media coordinator, to special events planning) I’ve seen the impact that AmeriCorps has had on the Friends of the Cobbossee.

    One aspect of the AmeriCorps involvement that I saw “in the field” with the NCCC teams and AmeriCorps State members (who generally worked out of the office, but also spent a good amount of time “on the water”) was the interest that the local community took in the presence of these young adults from across the country being on their shores…

    Likewise, the members themselves took ownership of their programs and projects, creating a real sense of progress and accomplishment among everyone involved. From this, some of the sustainability Bob speaks about is surely attributable…

    I’m sure this isn’t a unique outcome to the great AmeriCorps teams and individuals who are placed into programs across the state and around the country, but I really do think something special happens at the Friends…and I think that is demonstrated in the ongoing adaptations in programming and staffing that the readers of this blog can see in progress.

    Glad I could be a part of it!

  5. Bob Moore says:

    Cory –

    Thanks for the kind words – You have been a big part ofour success and I hope (I’m sure!) that your experience with AmeriCorps has and will pay huge benefits to you in the years ahead!

  6. Christy Monroe says:

    Hello Bob,
    Thanks for linking us to the oldest blogger in the world-a unique perspective.

    I always enjoy a good AmeriCorps story. I served two years with Maine Conservation Corps and now am back for a VISTA term at MCCS. AmeriCorps has changed my career path and life in many ways. It’s a win win program for both non-profits and participants. I too can’t help but sing it’s praises to everyone I meet.

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