Americorps celebrates 25 years on Cape Cod
A new team of Americorps volunteers has arrived on Cape Cod and is ready to tackle environmental and community projects throughout the region.
The new members took the Americorps oath in a ceremony outside the Barnstable Superior Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The oath was administered by Michael McGuire, director of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, which oversees Americorps, For Maguire, the ceremony had special meaning. He was part of the first Americorps class on Cape Cod 25 years ago.
“With age comes the benefit of having the ability to look back at the history of the program,” Maguire said. “Twenty five years ago I was one of the first Americorps members and did a lot of service projects in each of the communities on state and federally owned land within the county. I can actually see how the land has changed, how the attitude toward environmental conservation in the region has changed. I think about the generations of children who have been taught through the program and their investment in the Cape’s environment.”
Maguire also cited wildfire prevention and disaster preparedness work as important mission ns of Americorps.
The 24 volunteers who make up this year’s Americorps class were welcomed by former Barnstable County Commissioner Mary LeClair of Mashpee. She said it was not easy to get the Americorps program accepted.
“It was not an easy sell. Many members of the Assembly and even all the commissioners were not convinced of its success,” LeClair said. “They had their reasons, from liability to the fact that they thought you would be too bored in the winter and want to go home. Through the years, many have admitted they were wrong and even like to take credit for you being here.”
LeClair put Americorps service into perspective for the volunteers.
“You are proof that it does work. You are the young people that martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy had a dream about and would say to you ‘we are only stewards we’re only here to make this world a better place for our children and your children.’”
LeClair said this year’s volunteers will meet many of the Americorps volunteers who came before them and, “found sand in their shoes and found a home.”
One of them is their boss, Maguire, who came to Cape Cod from Connecticut after he completed college, saw an ad for Americorps volunteers and signed up. He has since made his career with Barnstable County.
Americorps members make an 11-month full-time volunteer commitment.
On Cape Cod, the program is supported by Barnstable County The focus of the program is on natural resource management, disaster preparedness and response, environmental education, and volunteer engagement.