Mayor John Fetterman is being honored as a Champion of Change for his time and effort in AmeriCorps.
As the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, one of the state’s poorest and most challenged communities, my service through AmeriCorps underpins much of my entire professional career and pays dividends daily.
In some respects, I’ve never left AmeriCorps. Just this past Friday, members from Allegheny County’s KEYS Service Corps celebrated their summer of service in our community’s playgrounds. Next week, KEYS Service Corps members will assist with the constructions of an off-leash area for dogs and help staff our Community Day celebration.
Without KEYS Service Corps, our community could not actively engage Braddock’s children during the summer months. But AmeriCorps involvement in our community extends far beyond our playgrounds. AmeriCorps also directs the largest and most successful youth summer jobs program in Allegheny County- The Braddock Youth Project.
Their service to Braddock also annually includes several large-scale service projects.
I’d like to believe I made a difference during my years in AmeriCorps setting up the first computer labs in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and teaching GED classes. Even 15 years after my formal service ended, I will still occasionally encounter a former student that is doing well for themselves and families.
Serving alongside members in Braddock reminds me of my own time with AmeriCorps. The partnership Braddock enjoys with KEYS Service Corps, without a doubt, is one of the most important and potent community rebuilding forces currently operating in Braddock today.
John Fetterman is the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania.