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Spotlight on AmeriCorps: Sheika Shines Brightly at Arrowhead United Way

March 14, 2012

Sheika presents a local student with a certificate as part of Arrowhead United Way's MLK Day essay contest.

Ask those who know Sheika Hurd best and they will tell you without hesitation that she is a natural born helper. Whether volunteering in her local community or simply helping friends and family with daily tasks, Sheika is seemingly always looking for ways to pitch in and help others. “My friends always tease me about it,” she says, “because I’m the only person they know who will babysit kids for free.” In the end, however, her desire to assist others ties right back in with her general personality and outlook on life: “I love to laugh,” says Sheika candidly, “and I try to help out wherever I can.”

This same generous personality has made Sheika a perfect fit with the AmeriCorps VIP Program and with Arrowhead United Way in San Bernardino, CA. Through a grant with AmeriCorps and CalSERVES, Sheika serves as the Volunteer Coordinator with Arrowhead United Way, helping to connect local individuals and businesses with opportunities to volunteer in the community. Whether giving presentations at local high schools, communicating with volunteers via e-mail and phone, or helping to organize events that honor local volunteers, Sheika works tirelessly to promote volunteerism throughout the San Bernardino area. “Sheika has been an wonderful asset to Arrowhead United Way. She is always up for a challenge, exuberates creativity, and follows through with any task put in front of her,” says Megan Karius, Community Impact Coordinator at AUW. “[Sheika’s] dedication to excellence in her work is only matched with her well-spirited attitude that brightens our office,” adds WLC Program Coordinator Rachel Hart. “She will definitely be greatly missed when she concludes her work here at AUW.”

Sheika (right), Megan, and Becky of Arrowhead United Way pitch in to help plant a tree during Make a Difference Day 2011.

On her end, Sheika is equally appreciative of how much she’s grown through her work with AmeriCorps. In particular, she loves how working through AmeriCorps has allowed to learn from the spectrum of human conditions. “On the one hand, I get to meet people who into my organization seeking services. Learning about their needs each day has really helped to keep me grounded and appreciative of all I have. On the other hand, working with AmeriCorps and Arrowhead has allowed me to meet people in highly esteemed positions, like mayors and CEOs, who really enjoy helping others. I love being in AmeriCorps because I get to see first-hand the cycle of people helping people.”

Sheika poses with Arrowhead's volunteerism display board before presenting at a local high school.

Asked to identify her favorite memory from her time with AmeriCorps, Sheika wastes little time in identifying a project she coordinated for Make a Difference Day 2011, in which she and 75 volunteers revitalized an after-school program by repainting its rooms, planting trees in its yard, and creating a fun academic playground for the kids. “The volunteers were so enthusiastic and eager to help out wherever needed. One volunteer even went out and bought new blinds for all the classrooms!” Everyone involved in that program could both see and feel the difference they were making in the lives of others, Sheika points out. “I will never forget the excited look in those children’s eyes after seeing all the work we did.”

As the end of this AmeriCorps term rapidly approaches, Sheika hopes that telling others about her experiences will inspire them to apply to the program. “JOIN! JOIN! JOIN!” she offers those who ask about AmeriCorps. “It’s a great program where you get to meet amazing people and do phenomenal things. Dedicating a year to AmeriCorps is definitely worth it!”

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