As Wisconsin passes the 100-day milestone since the issuance of the Safer at Home order, AmeriCorps members continue providing crucial assistance to those impacted by COVID-19 and the closure of schools and other community resources. This includes over 2,000 hours by AmeriCorps members serving with five programs in Racine and Kenosha during the pandemic. They are providing virtual assistance to students completing coursework at home, packing and distributing meals at food banks and school meal programs, assisting with contact tracing and patient follow-up calls, assembling and distributing face masks, creating virtual content on community resources, answering COVID-19 hotline calls, assisting various community organizations serving those in need, and through completing other local community projects.
With many of the over 300 Wisconsin AmeriCorps service locations closing in March, Serve Wisconsin worked with Wisconsin’s AmeriCorps programs, state and local disaster relief agencies, and community organizations to ensure AmeriCorps members were responding to the pandemic, either as a modified version of their initial service or taking on new projects to assist those in need. One of these alternative projects was a collaboration with 211 Wisconsin through the United Way of Wisconsin, with AmeriCorps members answering their COVID-19 related calls and providing callers with information and potential resources.
To broaden the ability of AmeriCorps members to assist community needs in Wisconsin, including those exacerbated by COVID-19 and its disparate impacts on minority and low-income communities, Serve Wisconsin is reaching out and surveying nonprofit organizations throughout the state.
The AmeriCorps members serving with the five AmeriCorps programs in Racine and Kenosha that are administered by Serve Wisconsin have provided unique COVID-19 response efforts to serve needs in their local communities.
Racine Zoo AmeriCorps Program
Following the closure of schools across the state and the initial closure of the Racine Zoo to the public, the AmeriCorps members used virtual platforms to share educational information. Additionally, AmeriCorps members continued to go into the zoo for their animal care shifts alongside the Racine Zoo’s animal care staff to provide assistance and gain skills for future work in animal care.
Public Allies Milwaukee
The AmeriCorps members with Public Allies Milwaukee continue serving with the non-profit organizations at which they were serving prior to the spread of COVID-19, providing virtual service focused upon how their organizations can help meet increasing community needs.
Marshfield Clinic AmeriCorps – Volunteer Wisconsin
The AmeriCorps members with MCHS Volunteer Wisconsin continue to promote volunteerism and boost the capacity of nonprofit organizations to serve their communities through developing virtual activities and trainings, as well as providing assistance to their organizations filling roles that their regular volunteers could not fill due to being parts of high-risk populations. They also supported COVID-19 relief activities, including answering 211 Wisconsin calls, sorting donations and distributing food to families in need, and providing recognition for graduating seniors.
Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services (WAHRS)
To meet the essential needs of runaway and homeless youth throughout the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, AmeriCorps members with Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services are continuing to serve in person through street outreach, shelter services, and assisting young people and families in accessing essential services and needed items (such as food and clothing).
Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association – Wisconsin HealthCorps
AmeriCorps members with Wisconsin HealthCorps have continued providing service since the spread of COVID-19 by conducting follow-up calls to patients, manning COVID-19 hotlines at their host sites, compiling community resources to share with patients, answering calls for 211, creating educational YouTube videos on nutrition and physical activity, and taking on efforts to strengthen community partnerships and provide additional health assistance through their host sites.