Mayor's Missoula tour spotlights volunteer efforts


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula Mayor John Engen was one of 832 mayors across the nation who participated in the first annual Mayor's Day of Recognition for National Service.

He visited AmeriCorps sites around Missoula Tuesday to get a better understanding of the kinds of volunteer service his city relies on.

The focal point of the mayor's volunteer tour was the Missoula YWCA. The YWCA is a national nonprofit that helps women and their children escape abusive living situations.

The Missoula YWCA is unique in its use of AmeriCorps volunteers in that they utilize four programs within the volunteer organization.

Roe Erin joined AmeriCorps in 2009 from New York City specifically to work with Missoula YWCA's GUTS program.

GUTS is a program unique to Missoula YWCA. It stands for Girls Using Their Strengths, and it offers leadership and empowerment groups to girls ages 8-19.

"I know that the GUTS program specifically, it was sort of built off of the volunteer force." Erin said, "And a lot of that was AmeriCorps and continues still to be AmeriCorps volunteers."

The Missoula YWCA's pathways program provided service for over 1,000 women, children and men last year. The nonprofit helped over 100 women and children find safety through the shelter. That would not have been possible without the help of nearly 40 AmeriCorps volunteers, said YWCA Executive Director Cindy Weese.

"AmeriCorps volunteers have left their mark on almost every aspect of the YWCA," Weese said.

This is the first year for a Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, and it is led by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Engen was one of the first in the nation to join the effort, and Missoula is one of 13 cities being used as an example to promote the new national day.

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