The Iowa Community Health AmeriCorps Program (ICHAP) and its members are celebrating AmeriCorps Week March 5-12, a week set aside to raise awareness of the great work AmeriCorps members are doing across the United States.
ICHAP, a partnership between Drake University and the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, is a grant-funded program that sends individuals into communities across Iowa to improve the health of the residents in those areas. AmeriCorps members serve as liaisons between the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative and local schools, businesses and community organizations to ultimately achieve this goal. Members are working on a variety of projects with non-profit organizations, health care centers and public health departments, such as providing nutrition education, developing community gardens, leading wellness coalitions and more.
One member, Jessica Boyles, is serving with the Linn County Public Health Department to develop safer walking routes to school for the City of Marion and the Marion School District.
“I am working to bridge the gap of health insurance in the community, specifically with the Department of Corrections to help offenders get health insurance,” Boyles said.
In addition, she makes referrals to community resources to ensure they get their medication, counseling and substance treatment.
There are currently eight members serving with eight different host sites in five counties across Iowa.
“ICHAP has been a great partnership between Drake University and the Healthiest State Initiative to build the capacity of communities and residents to increase health and wellness, in the effort to help Iowa become the healthiest state in the nation,” said Amanda Martin, AmeriCorps and Service-Learning Programs Coordinator at Drake University.
ICHAP members commit to a term of service, in exchange for a living stipend, education award, training and professional development. The program will also include a summer component. Individuals interested in learning more or applying can visit: www.drake.edu/servicelearning/americorps.
AmeriCorps is a National Service Program designed to strengthen communities and develop leaders. More than 983,000 individuals have served as AmeriCorps members since the program was initiated in 1994. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.