East grad gives back, spends post-grad in AmeriCorps

Joshua Cohen of Cherry Hill is currently serving with the National Civilian Community Corps.

AmeriCorps Week 2021 was March 7 to March 13 and was an opportunity to recognize the service of the 270,000 Americans engaged in AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors programs annually. Despite the unprecedented challenges posed in 2020, dedicated citizens continue to help communities, serving those impacted by COVID-19, ensuring students stay on track to graduate, combatting hunger and homelessness, responding to natural disasters, fighting the opioid epidemic, helping seniors live independently, supporting veterans and military families and much more.

Joshua Cohen of Cherry Hill is currently serving with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a 10-month, full-time AmeriCorps program. Founded in 1994, AmeriCorps NCCC strengthens communities and develops its young adult members into leaders.

AmeriCorps NCCC operates out of four campuses, which serve as regional administrative hubs and training facilities. These campuses, located in Sacramento, Calif., Aurora, Colo., Vinton, Iowa, and Vicksburg, Miss., train and deploy new classes of members several times each year. Cohen began his term of service in the fall of 2020 at the Southwest Region campus in Aurora, Colo. and will graduate from the program on July 15.

As a Corps member, Cohen is completing a series of different six- to 12-week-long service projects in different places across his assigned region as part of a 5- to 12-person team. Projects support disaster relief, the environment, infrastructure improvement, energy conservation and urban and rural development.

Before joining the NCCC, Cohen attended Cherry Hill High School East and Washington College, where he graduated from in May 2020 with a degree in environmental science.

 “I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what I want to leave behind with my life, and it is important that it is positive and long lasting,” Cohen said of his reason for serving. “It was for this reason that a friend of mine recommended that I apply for NCCC after I was having trouble finding work after I graduated from college. I learned more about it and I saw that it would be a great opportunity to participate in projects that really benefit people’s lives. Doing work that improves people’s lives and being able to participate in conservation initiatives is something I know will be worthwhile because I know the end result will be something that improves the happiness and health of the overall community. I majored in environmental science because I care very deeply about the state of the environment and the human relationship to it, so the conservation aspect of the program was something that interested me greatly. I felt that it was something of which I may have been able to apply my skills that I have been honing these last four years. More than that, I hope to take what I learn from NCCC to other parts of my life in order to continue to do my part in improving the world.”

AmeriCorps NCCC members complete at least 1,700 hours of service during the 10-month program. Corps Members are all 18 to 26 years old; there is no upper age limit for Team Leaders. In exchange for their service, all program participants receive $6,345 to help pay for college. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development, team building skills and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, they can indeed make a difference. AmeriCorps NCCC is one of hundreds of programs administered by the larger AmeriCorps agency. For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, visit the website at www.americorps.gov/nccc.