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The Dayton Corps

When University of Dayton senior Emily Wellmann isn’t in the classroom, she can be found playing Uno with youth at Daybreak, an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth.

Wellmann, a human rights and international studies major from Baltimore, is able to fulfill her experiential learning requirement by serving the Dayton community as a member of the Dayton Corps program.

The Dayton Corps, an AmeriCorps initiative, is a partnership between the city of Dayton and the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. In August 2018, Dayton Corps received its third grant from ServeOhio to support the program through 2019.

Launched in 2017, the program provides students and community members the chance to serve at local nonprofits in three corps areas: education, neighborhood and opportunity. The opportunity corps connects local residents with employment, housing and education. The neighborhood corps volunteers with the city of Dayton in neighborhood planning and community development to increase social capital and improve quality of life. The education corps serves in Dayton Metro Libraries.

During its first year, Dayton Corps provided 60 people, including eight UD students and one staff member, with the opportunity to serve the community. Together, those members provided more than 20,584 hours of service. This included helping 165 young people through the Rock Your Homework program and 450 people experiencing housing and employment insecurity.

“It’s great being able to connect with people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet and it’s really cool to be part of a community that is all service-minded people,” Wellmann said. “It shows how much love and good there is in the city of Dayton.”

Wellmann serves 12 hours a week in the opportunity corps at Daybreak, where she helps homeless youth through relationship building and completing job, housing and college applications. Helping youth at the shelter has inspired her to pursue a career as a social worker.

“I went into this not having a path and now being a senior, it was getting kind of stressful,” she said. “Then I started serving at Daybreak, where I saw what a social worker does day-to-day, and realized that that’s what I want to do. It put me on the path that I’m going down now.”

Dayton Corps is open to the community at large, connecting students from the University of Dayton, Wright State University and Sinclair Community College with outside community members.

Danielle Weickert, a 2011 University of Dayton graduate, is now pursuing a master’s in business administration and management at UD. She also serves as a graduate assistant for Dayton Corps in the Fitz Center and emphasizes what she has learned from serving alongside the 70 members of the program.

“These members do not seek recognition for their service and yet consistently show up to provide additional resources to their community,” she said. “They are open to learning, committed to improving what they encounter, and vulnerable when it is most difficult. These are the unsung heroes who do not let me get by one day without learning something new from them.”

Dayton Corps members dedicate from 300-900 hours of service and are eligible for living stipends and education awards. Wellman started serving in September 2018 and must complete 300 hours of service by the end of April.

For Wellmann, she is thankful for the opportunities that the Dayton Corps has given her.

“At UD it's easy to get wrapped up in the UD bubble and forget that you are a part of this whole city that existed before you got here and will exist after you leave,” she said. “I feel so much more connected to the city and its people through my service with Dayton Corps.”

Fitz Center Executive Director Hunter Phillips Goodman believes community service is beneficial for all. She strongly encourages involvement in the Dayton Corps program.

For more information or to get involved, visit the Dayton Corps website or visit the Fitz Center office in St. Joseph Hall room 433.

“Come and learn how you can be a part of national service through this program,” Goodman said. “Learn how your skills and passion can impact our community.”

- Ashley Junkunc ’21

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