From the Wilkes-Barre, PA Citizens’ Voice:

Volunteer helps build a brighter future for others

At this time last year Laura Volch never thought she would be doing construction work.

But now, after starting with the Americorps North Carolina Campus Compact program last month, Volch, 22, of Swoyersville found herself hanging drywall, painting walls, and even installing flooring.

In the Americorps program, Volch will assist with four projects throughout the country, completing 1,700 hours of community service. For her first project, Volch is based in New Orleans where her group will clean up houses affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Volch’s group arrived in Louisiana March 5 and has been working with a company called Rebuilding Together, which focuses its efforts preserving homes in New Orleans.

“We’re doing a lot of drywalling, painting, priming, and flooring,” Volch said. “The company is all about keeping the historic aspects of the homes.”

When she first arrived in New Orleans, Volch was shocked at the state of the city. Although she never visited the Gulf Coast before, she can only imagine what it looked like before any clean-up efforts.

“I knew ahead of time it wasn’t going to be in great shape,” Volch said. “It is definitely a sight to see. It shocks you when you first come.”

Volch will be in New Orleans until late April, when she will be reassigned to another area of the Gulf Coast. As part of the program, Volch will assist with four different projects in the country. After her time with Americorps, Volch plans to attend college and study a subject related to non-profit businesses. She eventually wants to work for a non-profit company.

Volch has volunteered in the Wyoming Valley, but she said those efforts did not require as much hard work and dedication as the Americorps program. So far, she said her experience has been positive, and she is learning the value of volunteering her time to help others.

“We know it is going to benefit somebody else, and we get to meet a lot of the homeowners,” Volch said. “You get to see their appreciation, so it is kind of nice.”

Volch’s parents, Lynn and Stanley Volch, have been very supportive of their daughter’s decision to volunteer her time with the Americorps program.

“I’ve never picked up and left home before. They are really happy I’m doing something I want to do,” Volch said.

Founded in 1994, Americorps NCCC is a 10-month long program during which 309 corps members and leaders travel to different areas of the country to assist with disaster relief or to improve the environment, education, or public safety. After attending a training session, the corps divides into about 29 groups of 10 to 12 members, and each group goes to a different place to help people. After completing the program, each participant receives $4,725 to help pay for college., 570-821-2083