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AmeriCorps Members Attend Rally--President Clinton Keynote Speaker


SALISBURY, MD--At age 46 Susan Lane Sims made a decision to leave her career of 25 years in corporate business to dedicate a year of her life to full-time national service. An AmeriCorps member with the Partnership for Adolescents on the Lower Shore (PALS) at Salisbury State University, Sims and seven other PALS members traveled to the University of Maryland College Park last week where they met President Clinton at a recruitment rally to issue a call for 50,000 new AmeriCorps members.

AmeriCorps is a national service program started by Clinton in 1994. It engages tens of thousands of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in a domestic Peace Corps--getting things done to address the public safety, education, environmental and human needs in communities across the country. The College Park event was held to highlight the success of AmeriCorps and support Clintonâs proposed budget increase for the program.

Sims serves as a mentor to at-risk children at Glen Avenue Elementary School in Salisbury. "Itâs not an easy assignment but it is the most rewarding opportunity that has ever been presented to me," she said. "Seeing a child succeed, partly as result of my efforts, far outweigh anything money can buy."

Sims is one of 31 PALS members who serve in 23 different agencies working with adolescents in the four lower Shore counties. The AmeriCorps members provide tutoring and mentoring services, conflict resolution training, health education programs and counseling services for pregnant adolescents in addition to peer support groups, community outreach activities and volunteer recruitment. Other PALS members who joined her in meeting President Clinton were Craig Oyler, Tashnika Demby, Terry Hook, Leonique Miles, Michelle Travers, Manny Fantis and Tonya Carpenter.

PALS program director Linda Beall accompanied the eight PALS members and said the event, "was the most exciting and inspirational activity Iâve ever attended. We all felt part of something really big, the national service movement."

Also attending the event was SSU President William E. Merwin, who said, "Salisbury State University has a rich tradition of civic engagement, and we are proud to be a part of one of our countryâs finest community service initiatives."

Salisbury State University has sponsored the PALS project since 1995, winning the Governorâs Trailblazer Award last year for its role in supporting a successful welfare-to-work initiative in Somerset County. Beall has started recruiting members for next year. In addition to a living allowance AmeriCorps member receive a $4,725 education award for college expenses after their year of service. Citizens interested in learning more about AmeriCorps opportunities with the PALS program can call Beall at 410-548-5119.