Last week, 16 of AFOP’s SAFE AmeriCorps members from around the country came together to celebrate their End of Service Ceremony in Washington, D.C. The day started with an exciting professional development training conducted by Nelson Diaz, an Employment Market Specialist at Telamon Corporation in Virginia. Among the topics discussed were, “Evaluating Yourself/Understanding the Labor Market” and “Creating Powerful Resumes/Preparing for the Job.” Members really enjoyed this training and got many professional tools for them to use in their lives after SAFE AmeriCorps.
Later that day, a beautiful graduation ceremony took place at the Beacon Hotel. We had the honor of having Kevin Keaney, Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pesticide Worker Safety Program, address the members. In addition, David Strauss, Executive Director of AFOP, and Levy Schroeder, Farmworker Health & Safety Programs Director, gave End of Service messages to the participants. Program Officer of AmeriCorps Amy Hetrick also shared remarks with the members.
Three of our SAFE AmeriCorps members also shared their testimonies with the audience at the ceremony. Dina Rodriguez from Telamon, Maryland, spoke about the difficulties farmworkers face day to day. A second year member, Araceli S. Ochoa from Proteus, California, told the audience how this program had helped her grow on a professional and personal level, teaching her confidence and leadership skills. Marta Beltran from Campesinos Sin Froteras in Arizona also talked about the great experiences she has had working with farmworkers and shared some of their powerful stories.
At the graduation, we were honored to have Cleo Rodriguez, Executive Director of National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Association, as well as AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign Director Norma Flores and Vashti Kelly, Children in the Fields Campaign Manager, present.
The SAFE AmeriCorps members received their diplomas at the end of the ceremony, which were presented by Levy Schroeder and Jessica Werder, the former Manager of the SAFE AmeriCorps Program. Although all of the members had a significant impact on the farmworker community through their trainings and services, a few members received special recognition for their outstanding service. Individuals were recognized for most Worker Protection Standard (WPS) trainings conducted, two AmeriCorps spirit awards, most farmworkers impacted through trainings and services, and most overall outstanding AmeriCorps member in our next program year 2012, we hope to accomplish equally impressive goals. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested in having such a wonderful experience, please contact Melanie Forti at firstname.lastname@example.org.