The Every Child Is Ours organization and Americorps have enjoyed a long and fruitful coexistence in Tuckerman since their inception.
Now ECIO is looking for someone to help further their relationship as current Americorps volunteer Lucy Antonovitch's tenure ends. Antonovitch, a Tuckerman native, is quick to point out however, that while her stint with Americorps is coming to a close, her connection with ECIO will only grow. "I'm leaving on a day-to-day basis but I'm not leaving forever. I've poured my heart into this. We worked for two years to get the computers to set up the lab and I'm not going to abandon it the minute we get the computers," Antonovitch explained. ECIO just recently announced receipt of four computers in which Antonovitch has begun offering the community simple computer classes growing into much more advanced instruction. "We are offering computer and technology classes and we are also in the process of setting up a 'computer lab' for lack of a better word. A lot of the people in town here that come to us cannot afford internet so we are providing those services for them to come up and contact their families - do the social thing with their families," she explained. Antonovitch, who works with the Arkansas Reads program through Americorps, has been focused on adult literacy in Jackson County during her tenure with the volunteer organization. According to ECIO Executive Director Jan Paschal, that is the main focus of Americorps. "It is all about literacy with Americorps. The Arkansas Literacy Council is how we are able to have Americorps," Paschal explained. "This person will be hoping to build the Jackson County Literacy Council county wide. That is something that we really need help with." The ECIO banner encompasses several programs designed to help those in Tuckerman, however, the Americorps position is a county-wide position that will offer someone the opportunity to help others. Paschal explains the Americorps experience as life changing. "For me, when these volunteers talk to me they call it one of the most thrilling things that they have gotten to do." She continued, "You have to really not mind working with the people to have this job. They are the people who come in and need you desperately to help them and if you are an Americorps person you ought to be excited about helping the people in your community." Anyone interested should submit an application to Paschal at the Every Child Is Ours Food Pantry in Tuckerman. "There is a list of qualifications and there is also a federal background check done by the police. Americorps is run just like any federal agency and they are very thorough in who they hire." "I want to see people that have the skills but that have that big 'Arkansas' heart. We've had people that they have found us from another state but we really feel that it is important that we find someone here." Paschal added, "Sometimes, even though they had a lot of skills and were wonderful, it is just better if you can find someone local. That person understands here and fully grasps what it means to be from Jackson County, Arkansas." If chosen, a stipend of nearly $500 per month is given to the Americorps volunteer as well as all the necessary training needed to fulfill the job. Upon completion, volunteers receive approximately $2,000 to be used to "at any institute of higher education," according to Paschal. "Anyone who is qualified and wants to give a year of their life to their community can work with Americorps, but the biggest qualification I think is that they want to be here. They have to want to be a part and want to work with a whole group of people who are dedicated to helping the people in this community." Paschal admits that they have had a very positive experience with Americorps and the next volunteer has big shoes to fill. "I would like to say that Lucy is an amazing teacher. To watch her with her students has been a gift for all of us and she is going to continue here with us as a volunteer. This is going to be very hard for us," Paschal said. "You always hope you make a difference but here you will know you make a difference because there will be people that come in here in the hardest of times - good solid folks who just happen to be struggling right now - and this Americorps person will have the opportunity to help them."