Former Sauk Valley Community College student and AmeriCorps member Irean Smith will take the trip of a lifetime this summer.
Smith, of Dixon, will join a contingent of healthcare professionals and volunteers who will provide medical help to children in 19 different villages in the territory of Arochukwu from July 22 through August 6.
While serving at Kreider Services, Joyce Palmer, the center’s former director of nursing, first took notice of Irean’s service as a LeaderCorps member for ABC AmeriCorps. Whether it was organizing a Book Drive, Food Drive, or Cell Phone Drive to earn free calling cards for troops overseas, she always included Jack Mabley Center as a collection site. This caused people to ask about AmeriCorps and become aware of her passion for volunteering and helping others. Joyce approached Irean and mentioned past medical mission trips and asked if she’d be interested in going on a future trip, which she said she would be. Smith got her wish.
Palmer, who now directs medical services at the Dixon Correctional Center, said the group will visit schools to help an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 children get rid of intestinal parasites that rob the children of important nutrients. The group will also provide medical outreach to the population in some areas and visit an orphanage.
Palmer describes Smith as very compassionate with a love for people and children. “She’s definitely got a heart to serve,” said Palmer.
In addition to working at Mabley Center, Smith also completed AmeriCorps volunteer work with Kreider Services in Dixon. In fact, she was asked to return to Kreider during her second year in AmeriCorps. Smith, who is also a disaster services volunteer with the Lee County unit of the American Red Cross, has a career goal of becoming a registered nurse.
“If I could make a wish and knew it would come true, it would be to have everyone experience being a student at Sauk and being an AmeriCorps member,” said Smith, who adds that her experience with AmeriCorps something that she will carry with her for a lifetime.
Sabrina Earl, coordinator of Sauk’s AmeriCorps, said the work AmeriCorps members provide a valuable stepping stone to great opportunities such as Smith’s.
“Irean is passionate about volunteerism and giving back to her community,” said Earl. “Now she is getting the chance to do that internationally.”
ABC AmeriCorps, a national service program sponsored by SVCC, serves Lee, Whiteside, Carroll, Ogle, DeKalb, Bureau, LaSalle, Livingston, Henry, and Rock Island Counties. ABC AmeriCorps members work with children, youth, and families in education programs and community-based agencies to increase academic and life skills. They also participate in environmental, public safety, homeland security, and other human service needs projects. For more information, call 815/288-5511, ext. 313.