A team from AmeriCorps spent a few weeks on the Key Peninsula. Pressure washing the Longbranch Improvement Club’s dock are Rachel Loucks of Denver, Colo., Samantha Kovacevic from Cincinnati, Ohio, Lacey Telfeyan of Sanford, Fla., John Dailey from New Britain, Conn., and Jen Grant of Watertown, Mass. Photo: Hugh McMillan, KP News

Easter Seals Camp Stand By Me, and the Longbranch Improvement Club received some added help for a few weeks.

A team from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps replaced boards on a deck of one trail at the camp, and acted as camp counselors for three weekends. They also put in some time at the LIC marina and invited the community to join them as they painted rails and enjoyed a potluck lunch in May.

AmeriCorps volunteer Dan Dropkin-Frank, from Albany, N.Y., said after graduating from college he wasn’t ready to go into the workforce with his Economics degree, and wanted to focus on some community service.

“I looked at all the options, teaching abroad, and other ways of helping out, and then I found this,” he said of the AmeriCorps program. “You place yourself in an area of need to help out, and it’s a 10-month commitment. You stay in the U.S. and move to different places.”

A team of eight came to the Key Peninsula from the Pacific Region office in Sacramento, and hailed from N.Y., Mass., Colo., Fla., Vermont and Conn.

“We also do disaster relief,” he said. “We have teams in the gulf right now, and we could be going to help with the oil spill cleanup. They send us where there is a need.”
Most of this team had prior experience in working with people with disabilities, and were happy to work as counselors for the respite program. The main objective is to provide the campers with a memorable experience in a safe environment.

Repair of the trail was made easier by having the team in place for eight weeks, dedicated to the project, said Ellen Stone, camp director for Camp Stand By Me.
“I’ve worked with AmeriCorps teams before,” Stone said. “They’re a great group who really want to be doing service.”

While they were on the Key Peninsula, the members of AmeriCorps also worked at the Longbranch cemetery, and Soundview camp, Stone said.

AmeriCorps is a voluntary program, and members must complete 1,700 hours of service during the 10-month program. In exchange for their service, members receive $5,350 to help pay for college or student loans.

“The Key Peninsula has been a great place for us,” said Dropkin-Frank. “People have been very nice and friendly.”