Jennifer Halberg, Monique Mendyke, Dagmar Koch, Jyni Koschak

AmeriCorps Team Connects with Community

August 15, 2023

While most of Volunteers of America MN/WI is staffed by paid professionals, we do indeed work with volunteers! One of our most active volunteer programs is the AmeriCorps Seniors Team.

AmeriCorps Seniors matches adults ages 55+ with opportunities to enrich their communities, utilizing their individual skills, interests, and availability to put their passion to work. AmeriCorps Seniors is a national program sponsored locally in the Greater Twin Cities area by VOA. Our team includes Jennifer Halberg, Monique Mendyke, Dagmar Koch, and Jyni Koschak.

Recently, the VOA MN/WI AmeriCorps Team had several opportunities to connect and shine. They included the AmeriCorps North Central Region Event, the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement Conference, and a Do Good Roseville Volunteer Engagement Event.

AmeriCorps Team Shines at AmeriCorps North Central Region Event

The VOA MN/WI AmeriCorps team recently shared their program impact with AmeriCorps North Central Region staff who were in Minneapolis for their staff retreat. Staff were on hand from eight states in the North Central Region (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI). They represented all AmeriCorps programs (AmeriCorps State & National, VISTA, AmeriCorps Seniors, etc.).

AmeriCorps team members Dagmar Koch and Jennifer Halberg, as well as Senior Vice President, Mission Advancement and Program Services, Julia Donaldson, represented VOA at the event. In efforts to give the regional staff a glimpse into the power of community partnerships through mobilizing volunteers who have significant impact, The team chose to show the power of mobilizing volunteers through community partnerships by focusing on their partnership with Open Arms of Minnesota. Open Arms provides free medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling services to people with life-threatening illnesses.

Dagmar and a representative from Open Arms provided an energetic and informative presentation that garnered interest and sparked inspiration. 

Dagmar noted that she thought of Open Arms as a presentation partner because of their unique mission and service population and their dedication to their volunteers who make it all possible.

“I was very impressed by the incredible smells when I first visited Open Arms in Minneapolis,” Dagmar said. “The place is buzzing with voices and laughter, and it is super busy. The food is very fresh. The wonderful smells come mostly from the bakery. They bake the bread, cookies, and birthday cakes right at the site.”

In her role as the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator, Dagmar recruits, refers and supports volunteers serving at Open Arms.

“Open Arms gets all the work done with thousands of volunteers,” she notes. “They value their volunteers, and they truly acknowledge that they couldn’t do the work without them. You can feel it in the atmosphere when you enter the building that everyone is happy to be there,” Dagmar added.

Dagmar and a representative from Open Arms provided an energetic and informative presentation that garnered interest and sparked inspiration. 

two women giving a presentation

AmeriCorps Team energized by the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement Conference (MAVA)

The AmeriCorps team embraced the opportunity to network with professionals in the field community engagement and enhance their knowledge base at the MAVA conference recently held in St. Paul. They found sessions such as Collective Healing— Breaking the Cycle of White Supremacy in Volunteerism (Donte Curtis, Owner of Catch Your Dream Consulting), The Human Side of Recruitment (Beth Steinhorn, President of VQ Strategies), and Person-Centered Volunteering (Kelly Mortvedt and Bri Johnson, Second Harvest Heartland) particularly applicable to their day-to-day work. The team left the conference energized by the gathering and excited to incorporate what they learned into their program.

AmeriCorps Outreach: Do Good Roseville Volunteer Engagement Event

The AmeriCorps team recently enjoyed a beautiful summer evening engaging with community members exploring ways to give back to their neighbors in need. The Aŋpétu Téča Education Center was buzzing with energy as the AmeriCorps team joined over 35 non-profit organizations to help people connect to volunteer opportunities at the Roseville Area Volunteer Fair, which was hosted by Do Good Roseville. AmeriCorps team members Dagmar Koch and Jyni Koschak enjoyed visiting with attendees about their interests and skills they want to share through volunteering and introducing them to volunteer opportunities that may be a good fit for them.