HandsOn Broward Selected to Host AmeriCorps Members as Part of Financial Opportunity Corps in Broward

Innovative program with Points of Light, Bank of America and AmeriCorps VISTA
will train “financial coaches” to help area families improve financial health

[LAUDERHILL, June 11, 2013] — HandsOn Broward has been selected as one of 10 sites across the country to host an innovative financial coaching program developed by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, in partnership with Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

The Financial Opportunity Corps will utilize trained AmeriCorps VISTA members to work Americorps VISTA logowith organizations like the Children’s Services Council of Broward County and the Broward VITA Collaborative to provide financial coaching to low- and moderate-income families in the communities they serve. Financial Opportunity Corps members will train community-based volunteers – including employees at local Bank of America branches – to be “financial coaches.” Through one-on-one or small group coaching sessions, Financial Opportunity Corps volunteers will help community members develop strategies to reduce debt, improve credit, start saving for emergencies, access benefits and build assets for long-term financial health.

“The power and potential of the Financial Opportunity Corps stems from our community-driven approach and volunteer-led outreach,” said Delores Morton, President of Programs at Points of Light. “Organizations like HandsOn Broward know the needs of their communities better than anyone, and the Financial Opportunity Corps will provide them with the financial training and volunteer resources to help meet those needs.”

“Financial wellness is core to our company’s purpose,” said Kerry Sullivan, President, Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “Through this partnership with Points of Light, we are supporting financial education efforts that can be scaled and sustained at the local level, leveraging the service of AmeriCorps VISTA members and our own employees to create positive change. That means customized solutions that put low and moderate income people – and their communities – on the pathway to long-term economic success.”

“At HandsOn Broward, prosperity is the core of our mission,” said Kathy Wint, Director of Economic Development at HandsOn Broward.  “”This opportunity will not only enhance our financial education and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs, but it will help sustain them at a time when our community needs it most.

HandsOn Broward’s Financial Opportunity Corps members will begin their term in August.  To learn more about HandsOn Broward’s AmeriCorps and internship opportunities, visit http://www.HandsOnBroward.org

About Points of Light: Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We put people at the center of change. For more information, go to www.pointsoflight.org.

About Bank of America: Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. We serve approximately 52 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,400 retail banking offices and approximately 16,300 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

About AmeriCorps VISTA: AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. With passion, commitment, and hard work, AmeriCorps VISTA members create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

 

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Project Leader Spotlight: Sami Fleisher

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By Amanda Hoffman

On Monday, May 27th, HandsOn Broward Youth Leadership Academy member Sami Fleisher led a volunteer project to benefit the LifeNet4Families organization. With Sami’s leadership, volunteers assisted with food service, sorting food in the food pantry, and passing out 300 hygiene kits for individuals who rely on the support of LifeNet4Families.

One of the reasons the project came together so flawlessly on Monday was due to all the hard work Sami put in to help organize the event. “I spoke to many Publix managers, who donated 300 reusable bags, and representatives from Walmart and Target who donated gift cards to my project. The majority of donations came from students at Stoneman Douglas High School. I placed bins around school where students could bring in items for extra credit and I involved many clubs. I also advertised around town to receive donations through social media and flyers. This was a huge portion of the ‘behind the scenes’ work.”

LifeNet4Families is a local food bank that serves meals to the homeless and also offers other services including showers, haircuts and clothing drives. Sami specifically chose the LifeNet4Families organization after volunteering there several times. “I love the way the facility is run and how they serve anyone who is in need for a meal. Since I was familiar with the organization I thought it was a perfect place to host my project.”

Although Sami’s friends and family gave her some help, the project was mainly driven by Sami’s passion for helping others. “I volunteer because it is my passion and I want to help as many people as I can,” says Sami. “Volunteering is important because it is critical to give back to the community.”

This certainly isn’t the last we’ll see of Sami: she can’t wait to lead another project, preferably one that benefits the homeless.

June Volunteer Spotlight: Sherley Guerrier

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This month’s Volunteer Spotlight belongs to one of our outstanding youth volunteers, Sherley Guerrier. Sherley, who began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in 2011, was a member of our Youth Leadership Academy and Digital Connectors program this year. Sherley originally began volunteering to fulfill her high school service hour requirement, but she didn’t stop there. She even received a college scholarship because of her commitment to community service.

“At first my only motivation was to graduate, and I needed something to do in my spare time. The minimum requirement of community service hours to graduate was 40. I reached my minimum requirements for school, but I did not stop volunteering. To see someone who may not have a family, home, food, a job or any of the things we take for granted really effects your thoughts on life. I get a sense that I helped someone and that feeling will never die for me,” Sherley said.

Through her school, Sherley heard about HandsOn Broward and decided to seek out volunteer projects through our organization.

She said, “I heard about HandsOn Broward when it was referred to as Volunteer Broward from my high school. It was my 10th grade year and our class was having an assembly to go over graduation requirements when they passed out a flyer that said Volunteer Broward. Ever since I went to my new volunteer orientation it was love at first sight… HandsOn Broward and I have been inseparable ever since.”

Sherley has volunteered at a wide variety of projects over the years, from Snyder Park to FLIPANY to the Ronald McDonald House. Her favorite projects, though, involved feeding programs for the hungry and homeless.

“I would have to say out of the variety I have experienced my favorite was feeding the homeless at Cooperative Feeding and at First Congregational. There’s nothing like seeing someone get the basic nutrition or essentials they need. Giving time to those specific projects gave me the utmost joy. In fact, over one summer my sister and I would feed the homeless 3 times a week every week,” Sherley said.

After over a year of volunteering at tons of different projects, Sherley became involved in two of our teen programs – the Youth Leadership Academy and Digital Connectors.

Of the Youth Leadership Academy, Sherley said, “Incorporating leadership lessons and being able to practice them by leading the Kids Care Club was a great opportunity for us to exercise our new skills. I learned new things about leadership that I never knew. I encourage anyone who is 18 and under to apply for this [program]. You will be surprised at the opportunities that will be within your reach just through giving your time.”

Sherley is about to graduate from high school, and she just found out that she was accepted to Spelman College with a full scholarship thanks to her dedication to service.

“Volunteering can take you a long way! If someone were to tell me I was going to receive a scholarship for volunteering I would’ve brushed it off. Due to my consistent community service I was able to receive a full scholarship under the conditions of maintaining my academics and, of course, continuing to serve my community from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia,” Sherley said.

She said she couldn’t have done it without HandsOn Broward. “I thank HandsOn Broward so much. Without the access to their volunteer projects I would not be able to accumulate over 700 community service hours and receive this amazing scholarship.”

When asked what advice she has for new volunteers, Sherley said, “Just go for it! The projects you sign up for may be out of your comfort or knowledge zone, but in order to grow as an individual you’re going to need to push yourself beyond the norm for you.”

Congratulations, Sherley! We cannot thank you enough and we are going to miss you.