MONTANA — The Montana Governor’s Office of Community Service (also known as ServeMontana) works to promote volunteer opportunities across the state. Many times, AmeriCorps members accept the call for service within our communities, which is why the State of Montana is encouraging all Montanans to fill out the Community Needs Assessment.
Over 500 AmeriCorps and VISTA members serve all over Montana every year to make an impact in our communities. According to ServeMontana, AmeriCorps members helped over 40,000 Montanans access affordable legal assistance in 2019, treated over 1,000 miles of Montana’s rivers, and more, making them a valuable force for our state.
“The beauty of AmeriCorps is that it's a dual mission,” says Sarah Sadowski, ServeMontana Director. “While these individuals are serving to meet these needs in our state, we also are intentional in developing them as contributors. They get leadership, personal and professional development along the way."
As mentioned, AmeriCorps serves to the needs in Montana, but how they discover what needs to tackle comes from all of us, through a Community Needs Assessment survey. It's a public, anonymous survey with focus areas including education, economic opportunities, and more.
“We have an opportunity through this needs assessment for folks to prioritize the Top Three needs that they think are important in their community and across our state," says Sadowski.
The survey is conducted every three years. ServeMontana has a goal to hear from at least 1,000 people this time around. It’s those survey responses that will determine where AmeriCorps will serve.
“How that will affect is that national service, AmeriCorps. Resources will be deployed to serve to address those needs. If it's in landscapes, we'll go and serve on public lands. If it's in schools, we'll serve in schools. If it's community-based organizations and local governments, we'll serve right alongside those entities as well to increase their positive impacts in our communities."
In 2019, AmeriCorps members served over 12,000 vets and their families, along with Montanans over the age of 55. They’ve also improved over 12,000 acres in public lands across the state. Community members have till the end of July to fill out the survey.
The assessment is expected to be published by the end of 2021. The Office of Community Service is set to announce $3 million in funding for their new AmeriCorps program year.