Over 1.5 million Missourians volunteer each year!
Each week, we will highlight a volunteer who is
making a difference in their community.

Frank Fillo and Lynn Fair – May 16, 2022

Frank Fillo and Lynn Fair are volunteers that work to keep the water in Moberly safe for its 13,000 residents.

Frank and Lynn have volunteered as water watchers for the Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program for 22 years. Lakes of Missouri engages 200 volunteers who support 65 lakes and 130 testing site

Frank and Lynn’s work contributes to long-term data on the lake’s capacity to support life, as well as the Department of Natural Resources’ standards for pollution in each lake.

In their boat with plastic jugs and thermometers, Frank and Lynn go to Sugar Creek Lake eight times a year to measure water quality. Their volunteer time is over 800 hours with over 150 water samples taken!

Original story from KOMU

Brittnay Brandt – April 18, 2022

Brittany is a single mom, using her actions and visions for her community to create an impact. Brittany has been a life-long volunteer, starting when she was 13 years old. She not only participated in Cleanup Columbia, but also motivates others to take pride in their neighborhood.

Through the “Rice Road Crew,” Brittany organizes neighborhood cleanups and organizes activities to bring communities together. Through her volunteerism, Brittany seeks to inspire change and dispel presumptions about the neighborhood she lives in.

Brittany has hopes and visions for her community, and says that: “I find it important (to volunteer) because people are watching, they may want to get involved, but they don’t think they can, or they may feel silly because no one in their inner circle is serving the community.”

For her service, the city of Columbia named her their April Volunteer of the Month!

Frankie – April 4, 2022

Frankie is Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis ‘s “Chief Pawsitivity Officer”. Frankie is an Australian Labradoodle who spends day in and day out bringing joy to Ronald McDonald House families and children, and serves as a shining example of volunteerism in her community.

Frankie knows more than 80 commands as a therapy dog, and helps bring comfort to families who miss their own pets during their stays at Ronald McDonald House which offers a place for families to stay when a child is in the hospital. 

Frankie brightens families’ days by offering a hug, a wagging tale, or a cuddle. Frankie serves Monday through Friday from 8-4, and splits her time between three St. Louis-area Ronald McDonald House locations. Her care is supported by Treats Unleashed and Barrett Station Vet Clinic.

Learn more about Frankie, and the Ronald McDonald House

Seaver Sherod – March 28, 2022

Seaver is a 1st-year college adviser and AmeriCorps Member with the Missouri College Advising Corps (MCAC).

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado Christian University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international school counseling.

MCAC places Members in 47 high schools throughout Missouri. Their service helps to empower students to go to college!

His enthusiasm for MCAC and AmeriCorps stems from being a first-generation college student himself, and he appreciates the opportunity to serve as a resource and mentor to students as they work towards high school graduation and beyond. He’s currently serving at his alma mater, Ritenour High School, in Saint Louis.

Learn more about MCAC.

Learn more about AmeriCorps.

Jim Blackwell – March 21, 2022

Jim Blackwell was recently honored by Ozarks Food Harvest for his over 3,000 hours of service in the past nine years at their Full Circle Gardens. To honor Jim, Ozarks Food Harvest created the new “Jim Blackwell Gold Gleaners Award” which will be presented annually to a volunteer that contributes to the Full Circle Gardens program.

Jim is a retired elementary school teacher. Since joining as a volunteer in 2013, he has helped to create a garden in Rogersville that now produces over 13,000 pounds of produce each year!

“This is a great way to serve the community and make good friendships,” Jim said.

You can learn how to volunteer with Ozarks Food Harvest here.

Original story and photo from KY3.

James Wade – March 14, 2022

James Wade, a retired nurse, has been a Phelps County Senior Companion with AmeriCorps Seniors since 2015.

James has been highly recommended by his client’s families over the years, as he often serves Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. James’ number one concern is for his patients, making sure above all else that they do not fall. James’ enthusiasm draws out his clients, inviting them to tell their stories and doing fun interactive activities. He also brings gifts of old songs, movies, and foods they might like, and he writes to them when they cannot have company. James shares a synopsis of time spent with his clients every month with the Senior Companion Program, telling how his clients are progressing (or declining,) what activities they do together, and how he coaches the spouse through the rough times.

Click here to learn more about the Senior Companions Program

Olga Potapenko – March 7, 2022

Olga Potapenko is a wedding dress designer and co-owner of PotapenkoYanchenko in Independence who is a part of the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City. Originally, the group was formed to strengthen the Ukrainian community, but it has now become a support mechanism for those dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine both here and overseas.

To provide Ukrainian flags to businesses and those who donate, Olga opened her home and provided her equipment for sewing. Materials for the flags were also donated by VolunteerKC

If you would like to donate to support the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City recommends Heart to Heart International. You can also request a flag from the club by visiting their Facebook page

Original story and photo from The Kansas City Star.

Elise Zeigler – February 21, 2022

Elise, a 17 year old from St. Louis wanted to find a way to support the growing number of international refugees coming to the area. While tutoring a 7th grade girl at the New American Welcome Center, Elise quickly realized the student needed more than academic help. She needed job skills and an opportunity to utilize them, so Elise began Selah Textiles. Selah is a screen-printing business that currently employees eleven women from six different countries. Elise and Selah believe in a holistic approach to their work, so they often host “family” dinners for their employees that help to build relationships between their employees outside of the work place. All profits from Saleh go to other organizations in the community that are helping to support the immigrant and refugee population. The moto of the business is “Uplift your Neighbor”.

“In working with our employees, I have realized that when equipped, they have the most potential to be change-makers for the thousands of refugees immigrating to St. Louis,” Elisa said. “Our young women are the real heroes, because they face the challenges of the under-resourced and foreign-born. They know the context, culture, and community of refugees and are the most capable in welcoming and uplifting our New American neighbors.”

For her dedication and passion to her community, Elisa was recently named a Prudential Emerging Visionaries Award which comes with $5,000 in funding.

Visit Selah Textiles.

Learn more about the Prudential Emerging Visionaries Award.

Stephany Bernadeau – February 14, 2022

Stephany is an AmeriCorps Member at Mission: St. Louis’ Beyond School. When asked about her day as a Success Coach, here is what she had to say:

“The toughest relationships to form are usually with the quiet and shy students. As someone who is usually quiet and shy around others, I understand a bit how difficult it can be to push yourself to talk with people. So I make sure to start conversations with these types of students as often as possible. It’s not easy because they might just give one word answers, however I am always patient with them and eventually they do open up a little. So far it has been fun meeting others and building all kinds of relationships.”

Stephany is using her passion to help support young children as they grow academically and personally.

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps. 

Nick Speed – February 7, 2022

Born and raised in St. Louis, Nick developed a passion for taking care of the planet, food justice, and working with youth. In 2014, he began a 3-year stint as an AmeriCorps VISTA and State member for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and EarthDance Organic Farm School. He was able to teach professional development skills, recruit mentors, and engage over 200 high school and college students in service learning projects at the United Way. At EarthDance he managed over 100 volunteers on the farm and at special events. Nick also led educational farm field trips for youth in the Ferguson-Florissant school district, and facilitated workshops on organic farming principles, permaculture, and creating inclusive urban agriculture spaces.

In 2018, Nick founded Ujima. This nonprofit cultivates community through food justice, environmental stewardship, and youth empowerment. Over the course of 4 years, the organization has grown over 800 pounds of food, produced over 300 meals, hosted workshops, environmental justice projects, and launched a youth program. Last November, they purchased a house and 5 lots to start George Washington Carver Farms, to honor the Missouri legend. This community hub will restore abandoned and unsafe land. It will be transformed into a beautiful green landscape that creates space for fresh food, natives, outdoor education, jobs, healing, and justice. Later this Spring, Ujima will officially be launching the farm. It will include an outdoor classroom, demonstration garden, native garden, event space, and Victory & Peace Park (a meditation/grief garden that will provide space for community healing and justice). Nick is inspired daily by the greater St. Louis area, his family, close friends, and colleagues.

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps. 

Rosalie Lynch – January 31, 2022

Rosalie is an AmeriCorps Member with Mission: St. Louis. She currently serves with third graders at Mission’s St. Louis Language Immersion School site and plans their Community Service and Friday Enrichment activities.  She shows up for service with a positive attitude every day, and she is incredibly creative and caring when it comes to working with her students. 

Rosalie is enthusiastic about getting students engaged and often goes above and beyond to make fun and interactive activities for her students. She has been sharing these activities with her fellow AmeriCorps Members in case they want to utilize them as well! Most recently, she created lessons on Nutrition & Wellness and Loving the Planet.

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps.

Tyrann Mathieu – January 23, 2022

Three time Pro-Bowler, and safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, Tyrann Mathieu has devoted his time and money to helping support the Kansas City community.

Last year, he and his Tyrann Mathieu Foundation provided 32 Kansas City teachers with gift baskets.

For the second year, he partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City to surprise 32 youth with a night of dinner and shopping, and they each received a backpack filled with needed supplies. 

At Thanksgiving, he held his annual “Tyrann’s Turkeys” event where he distributed 500 turkeys to needy families. 

For his continued support of his community, the Chiefs nominated him for the NFL Walter Payton Man of Year Award, and last week, due to fan votes, his foundation received $25,000 from Nationwide’s Charity Challenge!

Ruby Wells – January 10, 2022

Image all your belongings, your entire life, stuffed into a black trash bag. Unfortunately, for many foster children, this they don’t have to use their imagination. Ruby Wells of Kansas City spent time in foster care as a child, and now, she wants to make the experience a little better for others. That is why she is collecting luggage. 

“It makes me very sad, and I would like to help in the ways that I can,” Ruby said. 

Ruby will be collecting luggage throughout January. You can drop off your donations off at 6308 N Prospect Ave in Gladstone, MO. 

Original story from Fox 4

Bonnie McCollum – January 3, 2022

Bonnie has a major impact on what happens at Pantry for Adair County (PAC). She is there on truck delivery days, helps on food rescue days from local grocery stores, receives donations from the public, and is in charge of the cereal and canned goods section of the pantry.

Bonnie began volunteering with PAC in June 2016 when they were a mobile pantry serving food out of a church parking lot once a month. In July 2018, PAC transitioned to a permanent location at 2012 South Halliburton, and Bonnie was right there to help in whatever way she could.

Bonnie will turn 80 in 2022, but her energy and determination are endless. She is dedicated to helping the food insecure of Adair County!

Ms. Seeger’s Kindergarteners, Ott Elementary – December 27, 2021

During the week of December 13th- 17th Ott Elementary school in the Independence School District held a food drive for Harvesters Community Food Network along with a Holiday Spirit week to kick off the holidays. To participate in the Holiday Spirit week, students were encouraged to donate non-perishable food items to the four barrels brought in by Harvesters.

Students in Miss Seeger’s Kindergarten classroom were up for the challenge! Before the food drive started, Miss Seeger’s class set a goal to bring in 50 items by the end of the week. By synergizing, students were able to bring in over 60 non-perishable items to donate to Harvesters. Not only did students help others in the community, they also got to celebrate the holidays!

Learn more about Harvesters.

Team Red, AmeriCorps St. Louis – December 20, 2021

On December 10th, devastating weather swept across the the central & southern regions of the country, including right here in Missouri. The National Weather Service estimated that 59 tornadoes touched down during that time.

In Defiance, Missouri, a small town in St. Charles County, an EF-3 tornado that reached up to 165 MPH caused significant damage. The very next day, Members and Staff from the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team were on site to provide volunteer management support. Over the course of the next few days, Members managed over 150 volunteers who helped remove debris at 10 homes, amounting to over 400 volunteer hours leveraged. They also supported a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) on Friday, December 17th. A MARC is a central location for local and state agencies and human service organizations to answer questions and provide information and disaster-related assistance to those impacted by disasters.

Pictured from top to bottom: Jared Messersmith, Will Hunter (AmeriCorps alumni), Allen Lambert, Zoey Craun, Emily Guzman, and Chelsea Derbyshire

Additional Members & Staff Deployed: Kenan Ender, Eli Schmit, Meredith Brown, Saroja Schwager, Tracy Burton Bravo, and Amelia Stuart

Thank you to all the volunteers who are helping to rebuild!

Jana Gottlieb – December 13, 2021

Jana is one of Food Outreach’s most devoted volunteers. Jana volunteers two days per week in the agency’s grocery center where she helps distribute thousands of nutritious meals to individuals experiencing food insecurity and a diagnosis of HIV or cancer.

Jana always greets Food Outreach’s clients with a smile and kindness. She takes the time to assist elderly clients in filling out their food menus and strives to create a community for the 1,800 clients Food Outreach serves. Jana has volunteered over 430 hours with Food Outreach in 2021!

Food Outreach is the only St. Louis area organization whose mission is to provide nutritional support and enhance the quality of life of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS or cancer.

Pictured from top to bottom: Jared Messersmith, Will Hunter (AmeriCorps alumni), Allen Lambert, Zoey Craun, Emily Guzman, and Chelsea Derbyshire

Learn more about Food Outreachspan style=”color: rgb(51, 62, 72); font-family: Poppins; font-size: 101%; font-weight: 400;”>Additional Members & Staff Deployed: Kenan Ender, Eli Schmit, Meredith Brown, Saroja Schwager, Tracy Burton Bravo, and Amelia Stuart

Thank you to all the volunteers who are helping to rebuild!

Walter Roberts – December 6, 2021

There are over 180,000 incarcerated veterans in America’s prison system. Two of the major mental health issues facing all veterans are depression and suicide. That is why Walter, and his dog Choppy, volunteer to visit and provide therapy to vets in Missouri prisons. 

Walter is the disaster mental health lead of the Missouri/Arkansas region of the American Red Cross, and prior to his service in Missouri, he was a licensed clinical counselor and a professor of counselor education in Minnesota. 

“I think on of the things I’m pretty good at is encouraging individuals to lighten up… It’s a very intimating environment,” Walter told the Intercross podcast. “I think anything we can do to humanize the individuals is very important.”

Learn more about his story at the Intercross Podcast.

Sean Spence – November 29, 2021

Sean Spence set out to do something no one else has ever done. He rang a bell for the Salvation Army for 34 hours. Sean is a Salvation Army employee in Columbia who volunteered his time to keep his bell ringing for as long as possible. He was joined by many community members to keep him company over the two day span. His goal was to raise $5,000, and he filled three kettles full of donations during his marathon. 

“We’ve got business leaders, we’ve got elected officials, political candidates, all of these people that have been spending their time helping us to get this word out. And also keeping me awake. We’ve been sharing stories and learning about each other. And it’s been very fun,” Sean said.

Sean is no stranger to supporting his community. Last year he hosted a virtual telethon to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The telethon raised $12,170!

Original story and photo credit: Columbia Missourian

Demetrious Johnson – November 22, 2021

Demetrious spent his football career in Detroit and Miami, but he never forgot his hometown of St. Louis. He formed the Demetrious Johnson Foundation to help inner city youth and families, and for 29 years, one of the Foundation’s major events has been passing out Thanksgiving dinners!

They continued the tradition on Saturday when Demetrious and a large group of volunteers passed out 3,000 dinners in St. Louis! 

“Imagine being a mom or dad and you can’t feed your family. Kids can’t eat,” Demetrious said. “They need something positive in the house. It gives them hope. When you give them hope, there’s nothing that can stop you from going further. When you give up, you don’t move forward.” ( ksdk.com)

To learn my about the Demetrious Johnson Foundation, click here

Tracy Burton Bravo – November 15, 2021

Tracy has served three terms with AmeriCorps first with National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and now with AmeriCorps St. Louis (ACSTL). Before starting her National Service journey, Tracy studied Journalism & Global Affairs in Spain and Canada- local and global community service is very important to her! Tracy first learned about ACSTL after meeting some of their Members in San Rafael, California, where her AmeriCorps*NCCC team was serving alongside ACSTL on a wildfire reduction & fuels mitigation project.

In her first year with ACSTL, Tracy won the Legacy Award for her dedication to service, which was instilled in her by her parents and grandmothers. Tracy is currently serving as a second year Team Leader with ACSTL, and enjoys serving on disaster relief projects, promoting inclusivity and peace-building, and helping our Members grow. Thank you for your service, Tracy!

To learn my about AmeriCorps, click here

Jermal Perkins – November 8, 2021

Jermal is an first-year AmeriCorps Member serving with City Year Kansas City at Central Middle School. There he serves in a 7th grade classroom where he provides academic and emotional support to the students.

On November 7, Jermal was honored by the Kansas City Chiefs as the First Pass Honoree! The Chiefs, along with the Hunt Family Foundation, sponsor Jermal’s City Year team at Central. 

“In his first few months of service, Jermal has already built impressive relationships with his students, school, partners, and peers,” said City Year Kansas City. 

To learn my about AmeriCorps, click here

Jane and Harry Beckett – November 1, 2021

Harry and Jane Beckett have been painting memorial benches along Columbia’s trails for over a year now. So far they have repainted at least a dozen benches in in three parks and along the MKT trail. Depending on the bench’s wear, it takes about four hours to repaint each one. This includes a fresh basecoat along with a recoloring of the memorial lettering.

“People are so nice,” Jane said. “When they see us working or painting, so many people go by and say, “Thank you for the work that you do.”

The Beckett’s began their work during the pandemic when they wanted to find a way to volunteer outdoors. Their efforts are supported by the Columbia Park Patrol.

“It’s simple,” Harry said. “It’s all about giving back to the community.”

*Original story and photo by Karly Balslew – Columbia Missourian

Daphne Jeffries – October 25, 2021

Daphne Jeffries volunteers several 12 hour days a week for the Camden County Historical Society. She directs dinner theater and children’s plays. She spent hours in the kitchen preparing food for events including apple butter days which raised over $2000 and had hundreds of visitors attend.

She gives students and missionaries a place to volunteer. She also helps maintain the cemeteries in Linn Creek and Roach, and she works with elected officials in her community to promote preservation. She was instrumental in saving the Greens Mill historical bridge on J road when her proposal was approved by MODOT. 

Daphne’s work is saving history for the next generation! 

Michelle Hamed – October 12, 2021

Michelle Hamed, a first-generation Afghan American and a second-year osteopathic medical student at Kansas City University, raised more than $10,000 to support Afghan refugees arriving in St. Louis. She also collected an estimated $3,000 worth of personal and household items. Michelle and her peers transported the donations to the International Institute of St. Louis, where they are being distributed to the 1,000 Afghan refugees arriving in the area over the next three months.

She spent hours in the kitchen preparing food for events including apple butter days which raised over $2000 and had hundreds of visitors attend.

She gives students and missionaries a place to volunteer. She also helps maintain the cemeteries in Linn Creek and Roach, and she works with elected officials in her community to promote preservation. She was instrumental in saving the Greens Mill historical bridge on J road when her proposal was approved by MODOT. 

Daphne’s work is saving history for the next generation! 

Paul DeJong – October 4, 2021

There is nothing greater than October baseball… except maybe protecting our planet! Paul DeJong, shortstop for the 2021 NL Wild Card St. Louis Cardinals, gets to do both.

Paul has partnered with Players for the Planet to plant 110 trees for every one of his extra base hits this season. So far, he has racked up 3,080 trees!

“I use 40 to 50 bats a year so it’s nice to plant some trees,” DeJong said to KSDK.

Last week, Paul got the tree planting started when he worked with Forest Park Forever to plant more than 200 trees. He also donated $5,000 to Forest Park to support restoration work. 

To help Players for the Planet plant more trees, click here. 

Taylor Hession – September 27, 2021

After a year of primarily virtual service with students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor Hession decided to return to AmeriCorps and City Year Kansas City as a Team Leader for the 2021-22 school year. Throughout training and the first days of school, Taylor has been a leader, advocate, and support for the AmeriCorps Members he has led.

He leads through positivity, humor, authenticity, and grace. Any decision to continue service for a second year is incredible, but it took a special dedication to return in this challenging and uncertain time. City Year KC is grateful for his service and excited to see the impact he continues to make this year!

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps!

Megan Hoenecke – September 13, 2021

Megan is a junior at Parkway West High School in St. Louis where she actively participates in athletics and clubs including hockey, journalism, and history. 

As a requirement for graduation, Megan was asked to volunteer 15 hours. She decided to spend that time helping with 9/11 Day. In honor of the 20th Anniversary, Megan helped to pack 200,000 meals for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Out of the over 500 volunteers in attendance, Megan put in the most hours, helping to set up the night before and being the last volunteer to leave after the 12 hour long event. 

“I strongly value taking time out of my schedule to volunteer and give back to my community whether that’s working at my local food bank or finding opportunities that come to the St. Louis area,” Megan said. “I’ve found through volunteering that when I’m serving others, I learn the importance of community and helping our my neighbors, and that inspires me to continue to give back!”

Ron Bodenstedt – August 30, 2021

Ron is one of Food Outreach’s most engaged and dedicated volunteers. Based in St. Louis, Food Outreach’s mission is to provide nutritional support and enhance the quality of life of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS and cancer. 

In the past 12 months, Ron has donated more than 500 volunteer hours with the agency! Ron oversees new volunteers by directing them on how to pack client food boxes, fill grocery orders, put together bags of fresh produce, inventory, and stock food on their grocery center’s shelves. Ron is an inspiration to the Food Outreach staff through his enthusiasm, generosity and dedication. Having only 13 staff members, Food Outreach provides nearly 500,000 free Medically Tailored Meals and nutrition education to 1,600 individuals. Without hundreds of volunteers, including extraordinary individuals like Ron, they would not be able to fulfill their mission.

Learn more about Food Outreach.

Alvin Ward – August 23, 2021

Alvin is an incredibly dedicated volunteer who has given more than 1,550 hours of his time to Pet Resource Center of Kansas City (PRCKC). He has expertise in several different areas there, having volunteered primarily as a vet tech and customer service representative, helping both clients and their pets receive excellent care.

Typically, you can find Alvin at one of the drive-thru vaccine clinics, working in all weather conditions to help vaccinate up to 140 pets at any given event. More than just an amazing volunteer, he is a wonderful friend. Alvin has been a PRCKC volunteer since 2015, and has forged strong, lifelong friendships with fellow volunteers and staff. His influence enriches the lives of pets, clients, and the team members he works with.

PRCKC is grateful for Alvin’s friendship and support!

Quin Rich – August 16, 2021

As an AmeriCorps Member with Healing Action, Quin served over 300 hours through spring/summer 2021 with survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation in St. Louis. Quin made an incredible impact in the lives of those we serve through supporting Healing Actions clients during day-to-day interactions and program development around wellbeing.

Quin is an MSW student at Saint Louis University. She is a feminist, a dog lover, and an avid reader. Her goal is to be an advocate for survivors of gender-based violence. She holds a Master’s in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University. In her free time, she loves to read feminist science fiction novels and watch American Horror Story with her family.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Lauren Fitch – August 9, 2021

Lauren is an AmeriCorps VISTA Member with Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (CMFCAA). Lauren has been an immense help in getting CMFCAA’s monthly e-newsletter up and running efficiently and better than they could have ever imagined. Towards the end of each month, she is always on top of putting together compelling content from all of their programs for the next month’s newsletter. She also never hesitates to step in and fulfill any request for marketing materials and anything else the team may request from her. Lastly, she has been excellent with keeping their social media accounts filled with awesome graphics and interesting posts!

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Carol Schepers – August 2, 2021

Carol has been a volunteer at the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank for many years and is one of our strongest Lead Volunteers. She and her volunteer team work in the warehouse three mornings a week sorting, wrapping, and preparing pick up bundles for our area partners. Her passion for eradicating diaper need in St. Louis is infectious and powerful. She helps us train new volunteers to work in our warehouse and shares the story behind the diapers. To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit

AJ Kokate – July 26, 2021

AJ is a strong believer of the inclusive community where everyone is given an equal opportunity to be a contributing member of society irrespective of their physical and developmental ability. His sister, Arya, was born with multiple disabilities which instilled his desire to support the children with special needs. As a founding member of The Arya Foundation, a non-profit in memory of his sister, AJ executed various programs to provide services to the most vulnerable population.

“Disability Awareness Convention” is one such event hosted by The Arya Foundation every year under the leadership of AJ. Spreading awareness about disability and services provided is the critical mission of The Arya Foundation. The Arya Foundation is hosting Disability Awareness Convention annually, wherein in 2020, more than 49 local non-profit serving disability community participated. The experts in disability fields delivered more than 30 information sessions. More than 1100 people benefited from the event.

Meghan Baker- July 19, 2021

Meg Baker is an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member with Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (CMFCAA), a  not for profit agency that educates, supports, and advocates for foster and adoptive children, youth and families in central Missouri. She has been a huge asset for CMFCAA during her term of service where she has stepped up in a number of ways. She has worked diligently to build their volunteer program; has written a number of grant proposals; and has worked at respite events for foster, adoptive, and kinship youth.

Meg continues to step up when needed to build capacity for her agency. She brings a “can do” attitude with her to any task that is sent her way. She will be greatly missed when her one year term with CMFCAA is completed.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov.

Holly Morris – July 12, 2021

Holly joined AmeriCorps St. Louis in 2019 and is currently serving as a Team Leader during her second term. In her role as Team Leader, Holly helps train and lead AmeriCorps Members on weekly projects related to natural resource management around the state of Missouri.

Before joining AmeriCorps St. Louis, Holly worked as a laboratory technician for the American Red Cross in St. Louis. Holly studied Biology and Spanish at the University of Alabama, and is originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky.

From March through May, Holly lead the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination team. This team served at various mass vaccination sites around the St. Louis region, including the FEMA supported site in Downtown St. Louis. During this deployment, Holly helped manage AmeriCorps St. Louis Members in various roles around the sites, including data entry and registration, greeting and providing directions, outreach to local businesses to increase vaccine distribution, and more. Holly also helped manage community members who volunteered at the FEMA site, as well as AmeriCorps Members from other programs who deployed to Missouri to assist at various vaccine sites. This was a huge undertaking with many changes in schedule and personnel, and we are incredibly proud of how well Holly led this operation.

Holly has been described by those she leads as extremely knowledgeable and confident, humble, patient with Members, a great teacher, and supportive and encouraging to all Members.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov.

Dominic Viet and Joseph Diener – July 5, 2021

Joseph (16) and Dominic (15), two Scouts from Columbia, were out on their bikes in on June 25th after heavy rain. That’s when they heard a woman screaming for help. She had been swimming in the flood waters near a park and was drowning.

“The first thing that came into my mind was to get into the water,” Dominic told CNN. “We didn’t have time to think, her head was barely above the water and we could see her sinking more down every second. We didn’t think about the risks, we had to get her out.”

Using their skills they learned in Scouts, the boys got into the water and saved the woman. By the time the rescue teams had arrived, the boys had already rescued the woman.

For their efforts, Dominic and Joseph will be honored with the “Citizen Life Safety Award” from the Columbia Fire Department.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Photo and original story from

Miguel Johnson – June 28, 2021

Miguel is a City Year Kansas City AmeriCorps Member and is a beacon of joy and inclusivity within the school he serves and the organization’s community. He fights for Black liberation in how he leads his students to brighter futures and now leads his team to be more impactful servant leaders.

Miguel served last school year as a 7th grade English language arts (ELA) tutor and mentor in the Kansas City community. Now, he’s taken on a second year of service as a Team Leader, guiding peers in their own mentorship of students and fostering positive relationships throughout the school staff and families. He also sits on City Year’s equity committee, pushing to leave a mark on the organizations beyond his service term. His understanding and authenticity will certainly better any space of service he pursues beyond his time as an AmeriCorps Member!

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Breanna Warren – June 21, 2021

As an AmeriCorps Member at Leclede Literacy Council in Lebanon, Breanna tutors adults and children with learning disabilities. She is patient, kind, and tenacious when it comes to her students learning and growing. She has empathy for adults who learn differently, and her students can feel that each time they meet with her. Breanna also serves at each of Leclede’s monthly food deliveries with Ozark Food Harvest and delivers meals on wheels every Thursday in Lebanon. The community has been enriched by her volunteer work.

Breanna is enriched as well. Prior to her AmeriCorps service, she came to to the Literacy Council as a teen who had left high school and was searching for employment. Since joining AmeriCorps she has earned her high school equivalency and has found full-time housing. Her service has strengthened her and Lebanon at the same time!

Breanna is enrolled in college for the fall and will be getting things done with her AmeriCorps education award!

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Deb Bhatia – June 14, 2021

As a leader of the non profit organization, Sikhs of St. Louis, Deb Bhatia has become an vital community partner of the International Institute. When IISTL AmeriCorps Members hosted a food giveaway as part of their MLK Day of service, Deb responded immediately to the call for action. He and his organization provided 550 pounds of potatoes, 240 pounds of bananas, 50 loaves of bread, and dozens of pastries and bagel.

Since then he has also mobilized his volunteers to provide over 180 hot meals, hygiene supplies, and non perishable food to New Americans at the International Institute. His organization, Sikhs of St. Louis, has done so much more for those in need during the COVID pandemic throughout the St. Louis area, suppling thousands of meals and hosting a weekly food distribution for anyone who needs it.

Alyssa Werries – June 7, 2021

Alyssa is in her second year as an AmeriCorps Success Coach with Mission: St. Louis. She has a passion for relationship building with her students as well as the volunteers that she recruits and onboards for Beyond School. 

Recently, she has spent countless hours talking with teachers regarding 2 specific students who are behind on their assignments. She has created homework trackers and set goals for each of them to help them succeed. She has even taken one of them out on the weekend just to help cultivate a positive relationship with him! She has a positive attitude and is solution oriented when problems arise.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Lauren Fant – April 19, 2021

Lauren Fant is a 2nd year college adviser and a Missouri College Advising Corps AmeriCorps member at Raytown South High School in Raytown, Missouri. Raytown South has operated virtually this school year which has presented many challenges when engaging and interacting with students and families. Every day, Lauren has demonstrated a commitment to service and to supporting her students. She has been creative, dedicated, and persistent in the face of these challenges in order to provide the highest level of support for her students. She has partnered with teachers to visit virtual classrooms, attended student pick-up days to see students, and hosted college trivia sessions. She has worked hard to engage families through email, phone calls, and surveys which has allowed her to connect with over 80 families. Her efforts have resulted in an increase in FAFSA completion at the high school compared to the previous year, even though nationally FAFSA completion rates are down.

Additionally, Lauren is a great member of the team. She brings positive energy and provides encouragement and support to newer college advisers. She is always willing to lead trainings or teambuilding and looks for ways to contribute to the overall effectiveness and morale of the team.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Kristi Grimes- April 12, 2021

Kristi Grimes is in her fourth year as an AmeriCorps member with the Waynesville School District. She is truly dedicated to service as she has exceeded the program’s expectations by contributing countless hours of extra service despite being a full-time student, a wife, a mom of three, and overcoming numerous personal challenges.

Mrs. Grimes has the heart to serve, and it is evident by all she does to enrich the lives of the children she serves. She is a

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

gift to the Waynesville AmeriCorps program, and they cannot be more proud of her and her accomplishments!

Jessica Smith, Dyanna Yarbro, and Misty Hughes- April 5, 2021

This week, we have a volunteer team! Jessica Smith, Dyanna Yarbro, and Misty Hughes are wrapping up their 4th and final year of service with the Purdy AmeriCorps Reading Coaches.

These wonderful Members have not only made a difference in the lives of the elementary students they have tutored, but are also leaving their permanent handprint of love on the program itself. They have created materials, tools and guidance for those who will come after them, ensuring that the children will benefit from a strong, sustainable, effective and enduring program for years to come. Well done, ladies, you will be missed!

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Ashley Estrada – March 29, 2021

Ashley Estrada, was a true rock star during her service with Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA) AmeriCorps in 2020. Ashley provided trauma-focused therapy on a weekly basis for 9 children. She excelled at the challenging task of providing play therapy for kids in a virtual setting.

Ashley not only provided skilled services for kids, she also created a support system for CAPA AmeriCorps Members who were learning to provide virtual therapy for the first time. She did this by sharing suggestions and ideas with her fellow AmeriCorps team. And she provided observation opportunities in order to help others become more comfortable in the virtual therapeutic setting. Lastly, she organized a weekly Peer Support Group Zoom call which has continued on a weekly basis.

Ashley concluded her AmeriCorps term in December 2020. Her Supervisor shares that she was a skilled therapist as well as timely, responsive and thorough. Ashley stood out at CAPA and we want to celebrate her commitment to service and to excellence.

Austin Smith – March 22, 2021

Austin Smith is an AmeriCorps Member with International Institute of St. Louis.

Despite the difficulties of providing educational opportunities of learning English and citizenship preparation to foreign born clients in a pandemic while completing the duties that were performed by two AmeriCorps members the year before, Austin continually rises above. His innovative ideas, flexibility and skills as a videographer have changed the way clients are attending class.

He has shifted services to virtual and outdoor platforms providing a safe way to learn. Austin has shown that we can overcome barriers and meet people where they are while still providing high quality services. His professionalism, endless enthusiasm and adaptability are exactly what AmeriCorps is all about. He does all of this while preparing for his future as a Foreign Service Officer, taking the GRE, LSAT and applying for graduate school at the same time.

They say AmeriCorps takes you places, but the places that Austin has taken the International Institute are truly amazing!

Pastor Bill Foglesong – March 15, 2021

If there’s service happening in Eldon, Pastor Bill Foglesong is sure to be there. Pastor Bill moved to Eldon with his family when he became the newly called minister to Eldon First Christian Church in April of 2014. Since arriving in Eldon, Pastor Bill has served with numerous service organizations including the Mustang Packs Board, the Eldon Lions Club, Serve Eldon, and the Eldon Food Pantry.

Pastor Bill says his favorite part about serving in Eldon is, “Seeing lives changed/affected by joining with others in the common help and working toward assisting the larger community especially when an item is pointed out like the fire hydrants needing repainted and the city hasn’t had the time or finance to accomplish it; or a family who cannot take care of their yard needs help cleaning it up; or most recently, when the ice storm came through and left many tree limbs down and we were able to coordinate and help the city by going around and helping remove the limb debris for several families who asked for our help.”

He says, “The biggest satisfaction and validation for what a strong community we are was evidenced during the weeks and months that followed the 2019 tornado that devastated parts of our hometown.”

Pastor Bill’s service to the Eldon community does not go unnoticed. The community is beyond grateful to have him as a servant leader in their small town.

Tatiana Anthony – March 8, 2021

As an AmeriCorps Success Coach with Mission: St. Louis, Tatiana always ensures the goals of her students are being met. She spends time getting to know each student individually and finding ways to best support their needs. 

Most recently, Tatiana spearheaded and encouraged true growth within the overall program by leading a committee of peers to host a series of events for Black History Month. She showed great aptitude for organization, scheduling, and planning during the entire process. She was intentional in every way, sending weekly updates to students and families. The events were a wild success with students feeling a sense of community and pride about the celebration of their culture!

He says, “The biggest satisfaction and validation for what a strong community we are was evidenced during the weeks and months that followed the 2019 tornado that devastated parts of our hometown.”

To learn more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.govPastor Bill’s service to the Eldon community does not go unnoticed. The community is beyond grateful to have him as a servant leader in their small town.

Hannah Fox – March 1, 2021

Hannah is an AmeriCorps Member with Healing Action. She has been instrumental in helping provide services to survivors of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Saint Louis. She has worked with passion and dedication to assemble bi-weekly food boxes, to deliver basic needs, and to encourage and support survivors.

Recently, Hannah spearheaded a Valentine’s Day project to help the people Healing Action serves feel valued and loved. She gathered materials and launched an initiative with other team members to assemble gorgeous candy bouquets to be delivered to survivors. Hannah’s creativity and heart for others fuels her service. She is the perfect example of leadership through service!

To learn more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Nicolas Jones – February 22, 2021

Nick is a third year AmeriCorps college adviser with the Missouri College Advising Corps (MCAC) and has made a significant impact. In his position, Nick always looks for ways to better serve his students at STEAM Academy at McCluer South-Berkeley High School. He has collaborated with the local community college to establish the Emerson STEM program within his school. With the overall goal of the program being to increase college access, Nick has made it possible for his students to accumulate college credits free of charge while still in high school. From distributing program applications, meeting with students and parents, and creating class schedules to include dual enrollment courses, Nick is solely responsible for the program and takes great pride in the opportunity offered to his students. He is currently working on a handbook for the program so it can be sustained after his term of service is complete.

Nick is just as helpful on the MCAC East Region Team. He serves as a peer mentor, hosting weekly calls with 1st-year college advisers to help them set goals and adapt effective advising methods for their own partner schools. Nick also serves as a member of the National College Advising Corps CEO’s Advisory Council. The council provides an opportunity for advisers to inform the national organization’s approach to tackling issues/concerns among the national network.

To learn more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Maddie Bruegger – February 15, 2021

Maddie is an AmeriCorps member with The Literacy Lab. As a literacy tutor she works with students daily to reach grade level in reading. Maddie is a team player who has quickly become an integral part of the cohort and a source of positivity to others.

Over Thanksgiving break many of her fellow AmeriCorps Members played it safe by staying home to prevent the spread of Covid. Maddie didn’t want anyone to feel left out or disappointed about not seeing family so she dropped off home cooked meals to Member’s porches!

She not only goes above and beyond for her fellow service members but also for her students. She’s developed positive relationships with her students and families who are excited to see her every day! It has been a joy to watch Maddie take full advantage of her service year to make a positive impact on others and the community.

To learn more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Makayla Watson – February 8, 2021

Makayla, is a City Year Kansas City AmeriCorps Member, and she serves in a virtual 2nd grade classroom, supporting a classroom teacher and 30+ students in their learning. She makes phone calls to help get kids to class on time, and her students have made great strides in their attendance. In addition, she pulls students into breakout spaces to help them catch up on their reading, solve technology issues, or conduct social-emotional learning check-ins. She has been a consistent, positive relationships with her students and families who are excited to see her every day! It has been a joy to watch Maddie take full advantage of her service year to make a positive impact on others and the community.

To learn more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Jeff Wyrick and Jordan Lebahn –
February 1, 2021

Jeff Wyrick and Jordan Lebahn are paramedics who serve in the St. Joseph area. When their company asked for volunteers to work extra time supporting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, they stepped up. 

“So for me to be out here able to help the community to give back to the people that help to pay for us to do what we do… just feels good,” said Jordan. 

“Just getting to see smiles on people’s faces. It does give people hope and you kinda take a little bit of that smile away with you as you go,” Jeff said. 

All across Missouri, people are giving their time to support the vaccine effort, and with people like Jeff and Jordan helping, we will get through this!

. more about and AmeriCorps and how to join, visit www.AmeriCorps.gov

Hannah Grigaitis – January 25, 2021

Hannah always approaches her AmeriCorps service at College Bound St. Louis with a fervor and grace. Despite COVID-19, and the need to work remotely, Hannah hasn’t strayed from a challenge.

Hannah has developed a speaker series that is open to all of her students. She has recruited College Bound Alums, as well as other professionals in her community to come and speak to students about their college and career paths. This has been especially helpful to her students, because Hannah has developed different series on different careers. From engineering to nursing to attending a historically black college or university (HBCU) paths, students have had the ability to pick a series that really interests them.

Hannah has been nothing but passionate and optimistic through the planning and implementation of this series. She is hardworking and joyful through the service that she does, and College Bound is lucky to have her!

Hannah Grigaitis