SHERIDAN — There are some strangers in town who are hoping to become friends to Sheridan, and fast.
They call themselves Green 7 and they are a team of young adults from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps here on a seven-week community service trip. Their mission, to assist Habit for Humanity in the finishing of two homes and the building of a new home in a two-week blitz build in May.
But these people are not carpenters, or contractors, and they are not exclusive to Habitat.
In fact, they can do just about anything you ask of them and are seeking out other non-profit organizations in the area to help while they’re in town.
The AmeriCorps NCCC engages 2,800 Americans between the ages of 18-24 in a full-time, 10-month commitment to serving others.
In its 20th year of operation, the program trains and dispatches teams to address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, urban and rural development and more.
During their 10 months of service, members must complete 1,700 hours of community service, including 80 hours of independent service projects. ISPs are additional projects that the team picks up to assist their host community outside of the main project they were sent to complete.
Primary projects are assigned in four rounds of service. The team returns to their headquarters in between each round for training on the next task.
The seven people currently calling Sheridan home are based out of the Sacramento, Calif., headquarters and are in their third assignment. Prior to coming to Sheridan they were just outside of San Diego, Calif., doing fuel reduction and environmental stewardship by removing excess brush and hosting controlled burns to reduce risk of wild fires.
They were also planting native plant species and removing invasive species to restore the natural habitat of the area in hope of encouraging native wildlife to return to the area.
Before that the team was in Fort Pejon State Historic Park in California restoring 1800s buildings originally used as a Fort and now an educational and recreational building
The team will not receive their fourth and final assignment until their service here in Sheridan is near completion.
“There are wide ranges of things we know how to do,” said Project Outreach Liaison Lindsey Shaffer. “We’re not allowed to handle money or be involved in anything politically related but any other organization in town that thinks we could be of help, we would be happy to work with.”
Shaffer said upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree from Lock Haven University, Pa., she knew she wasn’t ready to join the workforce and needed to gain more experience traveling, learning and giving back before committing to a career.
She had double majored in English and Spanish and double minored in international studies and women and gender studies but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with that.
“Meeting people throughout the country and hearing their stories, I’ve been really inspired,” she said. “I was at a loss and not sure what to do with my life and I’ve been completely and utterly inspired to the point where I now have the opposite problem, I have so many ideas and I want to do it all.”
Team leader Wendy Thomas is now in her second 10-month commitment and said Shaffer’s experience of being inspired is common among the members.
“I definitely see in every member a lot of personal and professional growth,” she said, noting that the ISPs are often the best way for them to learn and grow more. “It’s a great opportunity for them to explore different organizations, helps them learn to network and is another opportunity to learn new skills or work on something they are interested in.”
If you are interested in utilizing the services of the team to assist your NPO before they leave town May 6, call Shaffer at 570-367-9126.
While personal growth, travel and serving their fellow man is more than enough for most members of the organization, there are other benefits available as well.
Anyone can participate, regardless of education or experience. In fact, the pacific region has a program where you can earn your high school diploma, not just your GED, while serving.
Upon completion each member will receive an education award of $5,550 to be used toward educational costs like tuition, or to pay off old student loans.
If you are currently paying student loans and would like to participate, they offer a loan program to help defer interest and penalties since there is typically not significant enough pay to manage loan payments while serving.
If you would like more information about the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps Pacific Region or are interested in serving see http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-nccc.