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Spotlight on AmeriCorps: Castro Cultivates Caring through Inland Valley Hope Partners

March 13, 2012

Alicia and 45 volunteers gather to pick oranges for donation to local food banks.

Over the years, Rev. Wade Kyle of Inland Valley Hope Partners has teamed with a number of dedicated volunteers and employees to address the needs of the Inland Empire. Few individuals he’s worked with, though, have ever been as flexible and skilled at multiple tasks as Alicia Castro, AmeriCorps VIP Member at IVHP. “I can’t say enough about Miss Alicia Castro and what she means to our organization as an AmeriCorps member,” says Kyle, the non-profit organization’s Program Director. “Her title at IVHP is Volunteer Coordinator, but we know that her worth and contributions have far exceeded that title.”

Over the last year, Castro’s flexibility and dedication to serving the public have made her a perfect fit with both AmeriCorps and IVHP. Primarily responsible for recruiting volunteers for the four Inland Empire food pantries the organization operates, Alicia also supports IVHP by coordinating volunteer orientation sessions, attending local high school and college volunteer fairs, tracking volunteer hours, writing thank-you letters, and running the organization’s “Gleaning Hope” fruit distribution program. Basically a jack-of-all-trades, Castro has proven invaluable to the organization, and the staff is happy to say so. “Alicia is an awesome addition to a lean, mean working staff at Hope Partners,” offers Kyle.

Since 2011, over 10,000 pounds of fruit have been picked and donated to local food banks through IVHP's "Gleaning Hope" program.

Asked to identify her favorite part of being an AmeriCorps VIP Member, Alicia points to the network of great people she’s had a chance to meet, both at other AmeriCorps sites and through her own partner organization. “I love knowing that I am not alone. I am one of many AmeriCorps members throughout the United States who are strengthening, helping, and watching their communities grow as a result of what they do,” she says. “I also get to meet new people, network, and build relationships with my peer volunteers. It’s great!”

Alicia has so thoroughly enjoyed her time with AmeriCorps that she is now pursuing a career in non-profit work. Currently studying for her M.P.A. at the University of La Verne, she hopes later in life to specialize in non-profit and government work so she can continue to make a difference in whatever community she lives in.

Approximately 3,500 pounds of oranges were picked at one event alone in early March, 2012.

Incredibly appreciative of the growth she undergone as an AmeriCorps member, Alicia hopes more people consider joining AmeriCorps and serving a local community. “Being an AmeriCorps member is very challenging but at the same time it is exciting and rewarding,” she says. “If you join, you will become a strong leader – both emotionally and mentally. You will strengthen your weaknesses and acquire new skills that will benefit you in your future career. It can serve as the first step to learning what your local community is all about, and it can even help you learn more about who you are. Because of that, I really hope more people consider becoming a part of AmeriCorps.”

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