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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2003

Mayor praises AmeriCorps efforts

A team of AmeriCorps workers finished up nearly two months of service in the city of Toledo yesterday with pizza, pop, and a certificate of appreciation from Mayor Jack Ford.

The team of 10 young people, ages 18 to 26, is completing a 10-month commitment to AmeriCorps, which is threatened by budget cuts.

They came from Boston, Dallas, and Oregon, and points in between.

The group lived at International House at the University of Toledo since May 22 and worked on city park and beautification projects.

“This AmeriCorps team is the first ever in our city,” Mr. Ford said. “They did such a great job, we want them to come back for years to come.”

The team planted flowers and maintained parks, cleared the University and Ottawa Park bike trails, and assisted at the annual Crosby Festival of the Arts at the Toledo Botanical Garden.

Though they were free to the city of Toledo, the team doesn't work for free. They receive a $400 monthly stipend, $4,725 toward college education, and room, board, and transportation - plus they get the chance to travel, hang with other young people, and get two free pair of cargo shorts.

Yesterday, they were thanked at Walbridge Park in South Toledo.

Janessa Troyer, 23, of Bay City, Ore., said Toledo was the only large city they worked in, other than a short stop in Washington. She found Toledo an exciting place.

“There were places that were open past 9 on the weekends, and art museums and rock quarries [for swimming] - and everything's close by,” said Miss Troyer. She was impressed with the heavy use of the University/Parks Trail.

Toledo applied for an AmeriCorps team in December. It was approved in April.

Budget cuts pending in Washington would diminish Ohio's access to the program from 605 positions to 329. Nationally, up to 50,000 people are made available to nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and religious groups. AmeriCorps was founded in 1993.

Toledo was the last project site for the team. Other locations were rural areas in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Jeff Farmer, 26, of Louisville, the team leader, said the goal was to develop in team members a lifelong commitment to service.

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