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AmeriCorps team working with RHP

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Team members at a Spindale home (back, left to right): Matthew Kelly, Paden Wilxoc, Jacelyn; front: Mayra Saint-Hilaire, Keighen Snavely.

Ten AmeriCorps young adults are in Rutherford County working with Rutherford Housing Partnership (RHP). The Tide 3 NCCC team headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi, will work with RHP through October 21, leaving on October 22.

This is the third AmeriCorps team to assist RHP in a number of urgent housing needs this year. They have worked with RHP's construction manager, the Women Roofers and others.

The AmeriCorps team, led by Sam Redford, 25, of Washington, D.C., has been roofing, cleaning yards, building ramps and doing other repairs at homes across Rutherford County. They have also done several jobs at the RHP offices on West Main Street in Forest City, which also served as their home away from home.

Sam, as other team members said, joined AmeriCorps to learn new things, to do different types of jobs while seeking his future career.

He and RHP staff invite other youth, men and women in Rutherford County to come and work with them as they are attempting to complete as many projects as possible before they have to leave.

There are fewer workers than there are housing repairs.

Since COVID-19 numerous nonprofit organizations in Rutherford County have not seen as many local volunteers return to help, including RHP, and volunteers are desperately needed.

Much of the RHP work in 2022 has been done through the AmeriCorps teams, YouthWorks and RHP staff.

Because the AmeriCorps teams have been in Rutherford County three times this year they've been able to do a lot of housing repairs but there are still many housing repairs that need to be addressed as quickly as possible. There is a waiting list of people desperately needing housing repairs, but cannot afford to make the repairs.

"We always need more volunteers, especially local volunteers, but being able to get an entire team of hard-working young people for a couple months is so helpful," said Mel Ailiff, RHP executive director.

"Thanks to our partnership with AmeriCorps, we have been able to help more families have new roofs, safe entrances to their homes and stable floors to walk on. AmeriCorps is all about 'getting things done' and that's what these young people do...they get things done for RHP, our families and our community."

The Tide 3 Team includes youth from Washington DC, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

In addition to Sam, the other Tide 3 AmeriCorps members are- Noah Villenenuve, Paden Wilcox, Olivia Hatch, Mayra Saint-Hilaire, Raynne Parsons, Shlomo Fisher, Keighen Snavely, Jacelyn Roberts, Matthew Kelly.

Most of the young adults, between the ages of 18 to 25, said they joined AmeriCorps to learn new skills, to make a difference in the communities and to learn what they want to do with their lives."

Raynne said she loves the benefits of being able to give to others.

Mayra said she joined "because she loved helping people and wanted to work on something bigger than herself...I want to bring smiles to other people's faces while getting things done."

She was among team members who cleaned debris, cut grass and weeds at a Church Street home in Spindale that now belongs to RHP.

The team mowed the lawn that had not been maintained in months. They also trimmed shrubbery and cut weeds in the overgrown yard.

In nearly 95 degree weather, the youth fought the hot summer temperatures while staying hydrated with plenty of water and taking a lot of breaks.

During the first few weeks, the team was able to do two roofs, two decks and repaired floors.

They work each weekday and if necessary to complete a project, they might work on a Saturday.

The assignment to Rutherford County was actually this particular team's first deployment as a team.

"We love Rutherford County and this is rewarding work," said Matthew, who came to America at age five from the Ukraine when he was adopted.

The team said they have learned to "take each day as it comes" as they work to fulfill the mission of helping others.

While in Rutherford County, the team is at the RHP headquarters in Forest City and invite others to join them on the jobs.

For those who don't have the time to volunteer, give Sam a call and see how you might help with meals, snacks and other needs during their stay here.

"It's one big family over there at RHP" said one team member.

If anyone wants to work with the team, provide snacks, meals or help in other ways, call the RHP office at 828-248-3431; team leader Sam, 202-766-6777; or Mel at 856-266-5154.

At least one team member plans to sign up for another term of AmeriCorps and another team member plans to go to the Peace Corps. The term is 10 months and AmeriCorps provides a small living allowance.

They all came to the county to help others, they agreed, and are enjoying learning many new skills.

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