The Office of Innovation Commercialization

Look Where They are Now!

AmeriCorps: Service that lasts a lifetime

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by Lizzie Sarah Biddle.

Keeping up with AmeriCorps members after they graduate is inspiring. Alums continue to have a lasting impact in their communities, as well as across the state. The CNNC is proud to have 11 staff who originally served as AmeriCorps members. Their good character, program-planning skills and cultural awareness make them great leaders.

Starting with the beginning of ACCESS in the early nineties, several community service organizations grew and thrived through the leadership of ACCESS members.

The African Services Coalition (ASC) began as a project of Lutheran Family Services Carolinas, while Pat Priest was director of refugee programs. The first ASC Director was ACCESS member Amminadab Munyaneza, a refugee from Rwanda. Following his term as director, ACCESS member Omer Omer, from Sudan, served for many years, moving ASC into an independent non-profit refugee resettlement organization. The current director of ASC, Million McKinnon, from Ethiopia, began his career there as an AmeriCorps ACCESS member.

The Greensboro Buddhist Center’s senior monk, Pramaha Somsak Sombimb, served as an ACCESS member the first year of the program, and several others were to serve at the Buddhist Center following him. One of the early members was Khouan Maoxamphu (now Khouan Rodriguez) who developed several youth programs at the Buddhist Center before she left to become a staff member at CNNC, where she has been serving as ACCESS Director for several years.

The Montagnard Dega Association, another small non-profit in Greensboro, has had several ACCESS members over the last twenty years. Y Hin Nie and Y Siu Hlong, both refugees from Vietnam, served as ACCESS members in the mid 1990’s. Y Hin Nie served as MDA director before he became a pastor, and Y Siu Hlong has served as MDA director for many years.

Several health departments, nonprofit organizations, and churches across the state began their Latino outreach programs through bilingual and bicultural ACCESS members. Those positions transitioned into regular professional positions, and expanded outreach programs.

El Centro Hispano began in the early nineties as a joint project between Catholic and Episcopalian churches trying to deal with ethnic conflict in Durham. Its first AmeriCorps ACCESS member, Ivan Parra, a native of Colombia, mobilized Latinos and African Americans to work together for common causes. El Centro Hispano has now expanded and claims to be the largest grassroots Latino organization in the state, according to their website. Ivan is currently the director of the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations, a statewide, broad-base network of grassroots Latino organizations, seeking to empower Latino immigrants and mobilize North Carolinians for advocacy.

As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, ACCESS member Addey Jeffrey, served at Casa Guadalupe in Greensboro, a small non-profit under the umbrella of Catholic Charities. Addey often shares that her AmeriCorps experience opened her eyes to the challenges facing immigrants in our community. She, along with CNNC’s Kathy Hinshaw, who also did a tenure as an AmeriCorps member, co-chair the Latino Community Coalition of Guilford (LCCG). LCCG seeks to strengthen and support the Latino community in Guilford County by promoting advocacy and education.

Not all ACCESS alums have stayed in North Carolina. In 2014, a delegation of the Association of Refugee Service Professionals, including UNCG affiliated participants, visited refugee programs in Jordan. They discovered that one of the hosts there was David Johns, a staff member of International Organization for Migration, who had been an AmeriCorps ACCESS member in the nineties. Members have also been diverse in age, serving in later stages of their careers, such as Dr. Mary Anne Busch and Sister Gretchen Rentjes, who were able to bring their passion and the wisdom of their experience to their service sites.

Hundreds of other ACCESS alums have similar histories across the state, nation and globe, especially those who have continued their education and professional careers of service.

Thank you to those who have served and continue to serve our community. You inspire us all.

Apply now to become an AmeriCorps ACCESS Member for the 2018-2019 program year.

Support current AmeriCorps members with a gift to the CNNC.