Back on campus with a new mission
By MEAGAN FOWLER
Of the News-Register
Lizzie Martinez is back at Linfield College, but this time she's serving as a member of the staff rather than the student body.
Graduating in 2009, after two years at Lane Community College followed by two years at Linfield, Martinez signed up for a year-long tour in AmeriCorps last August.
She joined the branch known as VISTA, which stands for Volunteers in Service to America. One of three distinct branches, it originated in 1965 as a domestic version of the Peace Corps and eventually folded into AmeriCorps.
Martinez was assigned to the Oregon Campus Compact, which is dedicated to fostering an awareness of socioeconomic needs and a commitment to meeting them on college campuses around the state. She is helping carry out that mission at Linfield through the college's Community Engagement Office.
She said she was very excited to get the opportunity to return to Linfield and give back to a school that had done so much for her as a student.
AmeriCorps is a federal program launched under the presidency of Bill Clinton and doubled in scope under the George W. Bush. Its work ranges from public education to
helping clean up the environment and assisting with disaster relief.
More than 500,000 Americans are either serving in the program currently or have served in it at some point during its 18-year history. Its two other branches are AmeriCorps State and National and the National Civilian Community Corps.
State and National is the largest of the AmeriCorps programs. Its mission is addressing critical needs in the community in areas like education, public safety, public health and the environment.
VISTA's main focus has always been fighting poverty, and that remains the case.
The Civilian Community Corps is organized around five campuses. Members travel around the country responding to crises.
In addition to Linfield College, local AmeriCorps host institutions include George Fox University, the Yamhill Community Action Partnership, Chehalem Youth and Family Services and Yamhill County Public Health.
Martinez loves her assignment.
"I heard about the program a few years ago and was interested," she said. "I wanted a way to give back for a year to the community that I enjoyed."