WYANDOTTE – A team of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members started working with the maintenance crew of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (ESTO) on various projects last week. The group of 10 young adults arrived on April 8 and will be serving here through May 23.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (ESTO) is guided by its mission of “dedication to excellence in our journey to build the tribe of the future,” as well as principles that foster and cultivate traditional core values and beliefs. The tribe applied for an AmeriCorps NCCC team to address damage sustained during recent natural disasters, such as severe wind storms and flooding, as well as needs identified through informal discussions at a number of community and staff meetings regarding the advancement of the community’s health, environment, education, and food sovereignty.

Over the course of this 6-week project, this AmeriCorps NCCC team will work on the six-mile nature trail loop behind the Wellness Center at the 10C campus, at the Blue Jacket tribal headquarters downtown building to update the landscaping and its retaining wall, and will cleanup litter and flood debris along Lost Creek for both the Tribe and the City of Seneca. They will also work on various indoor tasks during inclement weather, including at the Early Childhood Learning Center and the recycling center.

“The Tribe decided to apply for another NCCC Team immediately after, if not before, the first team departed last spring. We submitted the first application in late 2016 with some reservations due to not knowing a lot about the program and certainly nothing about those 10-12 young adults who would become a part of our tribal family for 12 weeks. By week two we began seeing their capabilities and passion and by the end of the 12th week we had likely learned far more from them than they had from us," said Chad Kelly, Tribal Administrator. "A couple weeks after [that team] left we learned of another team serving in the Miami area. Members of that team used some of their volunteer time assisting us with different events. Again, we had nothing but good things to say about yet another AmeriCorps team. After much consideration the Tribe decided to wait until the spring of 2018 for our second round of assistance since the majority of the work is outdoors. We are excited to begin work with the new team. I feel they are going to hit the ground running and expect we will be finding additional tasks for them to complete by the end of this six week round.”

AmeriCorps NCCC first served with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in 2017. Since then, teams previously served 26,400 hours with the organization. Some of the cumulative accomplishments of those teams includes mulching six miles of trail, cutting brush and limbs to clear line of sight, placing drainage pipes along trails, and processing several tons of solid waste at the recycling center.

Prior to traveling to Wyandotte, this team was broken up on other teams in many locations assisting with a variety of needs, including preparing taxes for low income families, disaster relief, and youth development in Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico. They began their term of service on October 12, 2017 with three weeks of training at the Denver regional hub. This is their final project before graduating from the 10-month program on July 12, 2018.