AmeriCorps: Members in Wisconsin have served over 100,000 hours helping to respond to COVID-19

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 6,500 hours by Dane County AmeriCorps members serving with seven programs 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, including over 40 in Dane County, 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 seven AmeriCorps programs with service sites in Dane County that are administered by Serve Wisconsin have provided unique COVID-19 response efforts to serve needs in their local communities.

Dane County Department of Human Services – Partners for After School Success (PASS)

PASS AmeriCorps members are serving students through host-site driven virtual platforms, with the online activities including virtual academic tutoring, individual and small group mentoring and extended learning and enrichment programming. PASS members also responded to numerous needs related to COVID-19, through outreach to students and families to assess resources and needs, food packaging and delivery at community centers and food banks, and answering calls for 211 Wisconsin.

United Way of Dane County – Achievement Connections

During the closure of schools due to COVID-19, the AmeriCorps members with Achievement Connections continued providing math tutoring support in algebra and geometry for high school students through virtual platforms. Additionally, AmeriCorps members have done call shifts with 211 Wisconsin, served at The River Food Pantry, assisted at the Madison Metropolitan School District’s meal delivery locations, and helped with mask handouts conducted by the United Way of Dane County.

United Way of Dane County – Schools of Hope AmeriCorps Project

The AmeriCorps members with Schools of Hope are serving in many capacities since schools went to virtual learning, including continuing to work with students via Zoom and Google Classroom or packing and distributing bags of books for students. Members have also served in COVID-19 response activities with Second Harvest or other food distribution organizations and sewing masks for healthcare workers and others in need.

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 Department of Public Instruction – AmeriCorps Farm to School Program

The AmeriCorps members with the DPI AmeriCorps Farm to School have conducted numerous virtual activities to stay connected to their students during school closures, including nutrition lessons, cooking demonstrations, and farm tours. They have also continued working in school gardens so that students will have items to harvest in the fall and provided home garden kits to their students to help connect them to their school gardens.

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.