City's 5 AmeriCorps Members Inspired to 'Make an Impact'

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

City's 5 AmeriCorps Members Inspired to 'Make an Impact'

Posted: 10/08/2015
The five AmeriCorps members say they’re determined to help people. Through their internships with City of Knoxville, they’ll get their opportunity.

From educating neighborhoods about disaster preparedness, to maintaining greenways, to developing programs to make the city more environmentally aware, the AmeriCorps members through the summer of 2016 will be planning and implementing new programs and educational opportunities for citizens.

None of the members are originally from Knoxville, but all five came to the City through a quest to find a community in which they could take make a difference.

“I wanted a job where I could have input,” says Phil Kehoe, working with the City’s Office of Solid Waste to promote environmental awareness through recycling programs. “Those jobs are hard to find right out of college. With AmeriCorps, I got lucky. I found one of those few jobs.”

Rebecca McIver likewise wanted to be in on the action – doing good work on the front lines of building up communities.

“I became interested in AmeriCorps because it’s a good way to prepare on a small scale for my goal of joining the Peace Corps or Red Cross,” she says. 

McIver will be working with the City’s Office of Neighborhoods as an Emergency Preparedness Specialist.

All five of the City’s members are with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) AmeriCorps program. Currently, there are about 40 AmeriCorps members serving the Knox County area.

“It’s always encouraging to see young adults eager to get involved with the community,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero says.

“The participation of these AmeriCorps members serves as a bright example of what it means to be an involved citizen. During their Knoxville internships, plenty of opportunities will arise for these individuals to develop skills they can take with them as they embark down other paths.” 

Created in 1993, AmeriCorps is a program that works nationally to place dedicated volunteers in positions at schools, nonprofits, government agencies and faith-based organizations. Each year, more than 80,000 volunteers work in these service positions, operating at 15,000 locations around the country.

The Knoxville-Knox County CAC organized the local program in 1994 – making it one of the longest-running and largest AmeriCorps programs in the state. It is financed through a combination of federal grants, CAC funds and payments from partner agencies, including the City of Knoxville. AmeriCorps members are selected from a nationwide pool of applicants and matched to local programs around the country, based on their interests and skills. After completing a year of service, AmeriCorps members receive an education award of $5,550 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans. 

Here are some details about the five AmeriCorps members working with City offices and the tasks they’ll be involved in:

Lauren Buckley

Buckley heard about AmeriCorps during her time at Tulane University, where she received her master’s degree. Originally from West Palm Beach, Fla., Buckley moved to Knoxville to be closer to family upon graduating.

After receiving her degree, Buckley decided to take some time off of from school before she applies to medical school. Buckley chose to join AmeriCorps as a way to give back during her gap year. 

Buckley will be working with the Office of Sustainability to help discover ways to make Knoxville more energy efficient. 

“I like Knoxville a lot. Maybe the only day I’m rooting against the city is the day of the UT vs. Florida game,” says Buckley, also a University of Florida alumnus. “But all of the other days, I consider myself a huge fan of Knoxville and all it represents.”

Lauren Buckley
Lauren Buckley


Phil Kehoe
                
A recent graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, the international environmental policy graduate will be working with the city’s Solid Waste Department. There, Kehoe will be planning environmentally focused events with an emphasis on reducing waste. 
                
When not collaborating with community stakeholders, Kehoe will serve as an ambassador for the Solid Waste Department. Specifically, he will be inspecting and maintaining solid waste drop-off centers. 

Kehoe is an award-winning member of Rutgers’ Top 10-ranked Model United Nations team, which fueled his interest in international issues. Additionally, Kehoe has consistently aligned himself with environmentally aware organizations. He worked at Rutgers Fruit Research & Extension Center and at All Green Recycling while in college. 

“I heard about AmeriCorps after Hurricane Sandy,” explains Kehoe. “I realized that AmeriCorps let you make an impact.”

Phil Kehoe
Phil Kehoe


Rebecca McIver

After living in Haiti and France, McIver realized her dream job is to work internationally for the Peace Corps or the Red Cross. But she’s laying the foundation working domestically as an AmeriCorps member. 
                
McIver eventually wants to work on response trips with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her role as an Emergency Preparedness Specialist for the City’s Office of Neighborhoods will provide plenty of experience to help her reach that goal.

“It’s important to connect with new and established neighborhoods throughout Knoxville so we can recognize and address common concerns,” offers McIver.

Rebecca McIver and Susan Shin
Rebecca McIver and Susan Shin

McIver will be collaborating with local emergency agencies to prepare neighborhoods for disasters. Citizens will be able to participate in workshops, fairs and training classes to ready themselves in the event of an emergency. 


Kennedy McMinn

McMinn will be serving as a “greenways ranger” for the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. When he is not out studying the trails on a mountain bike, McMinn’s energy will be spent on map-making and managing the mapping database for the department.

Originally from Houston, McMinn developed his love of the outdoors on his family’s cattle ranch. McMinn graduated from Texas State University in 2014 with a degree in geographic information science.

McMinn’s completion of the Appalachian Trail further developed his love for the outdoors. 

“While on the AT, I realized I really enjoyed being in the mountains,” he said. “I came to Knoxville because it offers so many outdoor activities and is so close to the mountains.”

Kennedy McMinn
 Kennedy McMinn

Susan Shin

As a University of Tennessee alumnus, Shin realized she knew the workings of the campus inside and out. Hearing about AmeriCorps through a friend, Shin knew the organization would prove a good fit for her.
                
“I loved going to school and living in Knoxville,” she says. “Living on campus, I only got to see one side of the city. I wanted to experience a new side of Knoxville.”
                
Shin’s interest in local government led her to working with the City’s Office of Neighborhoods as a Blighted Property Specialist. She will hold workshops on blighted properties for interested citizens.