What do you call community college volunteers who provide manpower to their local non-profits in need? Officials at River Parishes Community College (RPCC) and Northshore Technical Community College call it CommunityCorps.
“We don’t need to duplicate the mission of other organizations,” said Glen Duncan, director of institutional advancement at RPCC. “Instead, we’d like to help those organizations by meeting a need that occurs over and over again – the need for volunteers. CommunityCorps, much like our models, the Peace Corps and Americorps, is about offering a helping hand.”
Duncan will direct CommunityCorps from RPCC, and said the idea is to recruit students, faculty, staff and even employees of the many businesses that support RPCC and Northshore. CommunityCorps will meet short-term needs of the region’s existing community agencies and organizations.
The RPCC Foundation, of which Duncan is the executive director, recently won a grant to help get CommunityCorps off the ground. That grant will help the colleges recruit and employ four volunteers from the federal organization Volunteers in Service to America, called VISTA, which is a branch of Americorps. Those volunteers will be the initial staff of CommunityCorps, helping RPCC and Northshore get the program up and running.
“I think it is entirely appropriate that we’re seeking volunteers to help us start a volunteer organization,” Duncan said. “Our VISTA volunteers will be asked to commit a year of service in return for a stipend that helps cover living expenses.”
Duncan said he hopes CommunityCorps will be a pilot for other colleges in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and said he was thrilled to find his first partner just a couple parishes to the north.
"Central to our mission is building futures for those we serve,” said Dr. William S. Wainwright, Chancellor, Northshore Technical Community College. “With a rich history of strengthening communities throughout the northshore region, our college is honored to participate with River Parishes Community College in CommunityCorps."
Duncan said those interested in serving as the lead VISTA volunteers may contact him at GDuncan@RPCC.Edu or (225) 743-8547.
“We have upwards of 100,000 students in the community college system. Add faculty, staff and the employees of supporting businesses, and we have the potential of creating a huge impact, each college serving its own community. That’s CommunityCorps,” Duncan said.
River Parishes Community College focuses on building the workforce of today and tomorrow through specific skill training and providing transferrable courses and curricula leading to certification and associate degrees. RPCC works closely with its communities to provide programs for personal, professional and academic growth.