A group of AmeriCorps participants came to Washington Friday in order to serve a local nonprofit.
“The mission aligned exactly with what I wanted to do” after college, said participant Eliza Hens-Greco, 22, of Pittsburgh. “It’s great to work with a group of committed, active and engaged young people like this. That’s what drove me to the program.”
Public Allies Pittsburgh took a group of about 12 participants to the office of the nonprofit Dress For Success on North Main Street, where they sorted and boxed clothes for the organization that matches low-income and underprivileged women with suits tailored to help them gain access into the business world. The young men and women participating are enrolled in a 10-month AmeriCorps program.
Each participant is paired with a regional organization for which they have to log an average of 45 work-hours per week. In addition, the whole group comes together for monthly volunteer service projects like the expedition to Dress For Success.
“It’s changed my career path,” said Bailey Warren, 23, of the Bloomfield neighborhood in Pittsburgh.
Warren said a service project in the Uptown section of downtown Pittsburgh made her want to pursue a career in community engagement.
“I realized working in underserved communities is more important,” said Warren, who originally wanted to work in environmental education. “It’s something I haven’t experienced before.”
This is the first year the Public Allies Pittsburgh organization has expanded its annual 10-month program to involve Washington. In addition to the roughly four hours the group spent helping Dress For Success, two of the members’ service assignments are located in the city.
Meghan Dillie, 25, of Washington, is paired with Community Action Southwest, a local organization working to empower people from their Beau Street office. In addition to her responsibilities implementing the group’s strategic plan and facilitating classes, she also has been preparing and filing income tax forms for low-income individuals in the community.
Although it was hard work, “I know it’s important for the people we serve,” Dillie said. “It’s a great collaboration.”
Canonsburg native Pierce Marratto, 28, is embedded with Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living, the local organization that advocates for the civil rights for people with disabilities. Marratto has been commuting from his current residence in North Hills to work at the East Beau Street office. He’s been designing marketing materials and volunteering with the after-school arts program TRIPIL runs for local children with mental and cognitive disabilities.
At the Dress For Success event, participants organized, sorted and packaged the new and gently used clothing items in order to get them ready for a future owner who may soon wear them to a job interview.
Participants said they felt rewarded for completing another day in service.
“It was a great opportunity to meet such dedicated women,” said Lauren Bethea of Pittsburgh. “They were so appreciative, but it was me who owes them the ‘thank you.’”