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AmeriCorps members to help fight pandemic

Ken MammarellaFeatured, Government, Headlines, Health

Chris Coons

Chris Coons (Photo from the virtual announcement.)

Up to 20 AmeriCorps members will serve at health-care and related nonprofits to help address the pandemic in New Castle County, multiple government figures announced today.

“National Health Corps Delaware will work to eliminate health disparities and the underlying racist, inequitable, and oppressive institutional policies and procedures that perpetuate them,” the county said in an announcement.

The effort, which is considered to be a pilot for Delaware, will also help out with vaccinations. The county is using federal CARES Act funding to pay for it. The projected program budget is $1.5 million to $2 million.

This is “an opportunity to re-examine how we deliver health,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said, noting that he has five AmeriCorps members serving in his office.

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U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester credited Coons with pushing for the idea.

County Executive Matt Meyer, a former AmeriCorps member, today announced the recruitment for a program director, a program coordinator and sites to host members. The county is hosting an introductory session

“I know the power that pledging to serve your country can have,” said Karen Dahl, senior advisor on COVID-19 for AmeriCorps and a former AmeriCorps member.

The program was announced on a Facebook Live event stymied for several minutes by technical difficulties, but once it went live, it drew dozens of likes by viewers.

Carney was scheduled to participate in the announcement, but Dr. Rita Landgraf, director of the University of Delaware Partnership for Healthy Communities, said he instead was working on vaccine distribution.

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This weekend’s mass vaccinations in Delaware City and Georgetown experienced massive traffic jams and delays on Saturday – with some seniors saying on Facebook that they waited in line for hours and sometimes gave up and left, without getting vaccinated. Sunday’s setup went more smoothly, the state said.

Delaware is joining seven sites across six states in the health corps, said Natalie Levkovich, CEO of the Health Federation of Philadelphia.

AmeriCorps members are paid “a living allowance,” Levkovich said. That’s $15 an hour, the county said.

The program has four objectives.

  • Support empowerment in youth and adults to make choices about their health and lead healthier lives.
  • Foster NHC Delaware members’ skills related to professional development, commitment to health-related careers, ethic of service, and reducing health disparities.
  • Support organizations that aim to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes in communities.
  • Create a model for national service in a crisis.

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