By Shawn Gilley
They've lived in tents, provided relief to tornado-devastated communities, mentored disadvantaged youth, coordinated tens of thousands of volunteers, and developed into our nation's future leaders. With over half a million hours of service and 138 projects behind them, Marty Kunkel of Oak Park is one of 284 members of AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) who have completed 10 months of full-time service to communities in need.
Kunkel, who arrived at NCCC's Southwest Region Campus in Denver on October 13, 2010 to begin his term of service, graduated from the program on Friday, July 29. Most Corps Members departed Denver and began travel to their home of record immediately following the morning ceremony.
Kunkel and his team of about 10 other members completed a series of six- to eight-week-long projects in different communities across the country. NCCC projects support disaster relief, the environment, energy conservation, infrastructure improvement, and urban and rural development.
The graduating class completed 51 projects in disaster services this year, including a major response following the tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo. AmeriCorps NCCC certifies 100 percent of its members in disaster relief, and has responded to every national disaster since the program began in 1994.
There are four other NCCC campuses located in Perry Point, Md., Vicksburg, Miss., Vinton, Iowa, and Sacramento, Calif., each of which is a hub for its respective area of the country, though teams will travel to other regions for disaster relief projects.
Hope Geldes and Tom Kunkel are Marty's parents.