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Literacy Project AmeriCorps Member Wins 2013 J.C. Babbs Award

Armida Stokes, 2013 Babbs award winner
The oldest state office of volunteerism and community service in the nation kicked off another year of service at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock on October 24. At the AmeriCorps Grand Opening Ceremony last week, the Arkansas Service Commission awarded AmeriCorps member Armida Stokes the 2013 Dr. J.C. Babbs, Sr. Award for outstanding community service. Batesville native Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, gave the keynote address.

Stokes, an AmeriCorps member with the Batesville-based Ozark Foothills Literacy Project, was selected for the honor from more than 400 AmeriCorps members statewide. Babbs award winners exemplify the goals and ideals of the AmeriCorps program by giving much to their organization and the community in which they serve. Stokes provides one-on-one English tutoring for a dozen students, who she teaches how to speak to doctors, employers and children's teachers. In addition to teaching English, she helps organize “Comunidades Latinas” meetings for Spanish speakers, she translates for Believers' Community Church's Christian Health Clinic, and she volunteers for a number of other community organizations as needs arise.

AmeriCorps, also known as the domestic Peace Corps, engages Americans of all ages in service opportunities each year. Started under President Bill Clinton through the National and Community Service Act in 1994, the AmeriCorps program is approaching its 20th anniversary. Each AmeriCorps member dedicates a year or more of their lives in service to their communities and country. Members serve with local nonprofits and community agencies, where they have the opportunity to teach adults reading and English skills, make neighborhoods safer, teach children how to be healthier, respond to and assist in natural disasters, and other community service initiatives.

In Arkansas, AmeriCorps members have served over 80,000 people. Many of these AmeriCorps members serve with projects like Arkansas Reads, Foster Grandparents, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and Arkansas Future Teacher Initiative. Arkansas has AmeriCorps programs operating in all of its 75 counties. More than $2 million is brought into the state through federal funds.

The Ozark Foothills Literacy Project has three AmeriCorps members under the auspices of the Arkansas Reads project. 2013-14 members are Armida Stokes of Batesville, Samantha Stokes of Batesville, and Christina Himschoot of Ash Flat. The Literacy Project's AmeriCorps positions are funded in large part by the United Way of Independence County.

The Literacy Project serves Fulton, Sharp, Izard and Independence Counties, providing free tutoring for adults who are learning to read and adults who are learning English. The Literacy Project relies on trained volunteer tutors and AmeriCorps members to provide these services. The Literacy Project is a United Way member agency and part of the Arkansas Literacy Councils network of adult literacy organizations. For more information, please contact the 870-793-5912 or info@literacyindependence.org.