SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A Tifton woman has taken a break from her college studies to spend 10 months doing community and national service.

Sarah Gibbs of Tifton has joined the AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps, an organization devoted to strengthening communities by fostering leadership in young adults. Members work in teams in various areas of national and community service.

Gibbs recently left for Sacramento and the program's Western Region campus to participate in a 10-month term with the AmeriCorps*NCCC.

"I had a friend who had participated in the program, also on the Western Region campus, and he had always said it was one of the best experiences of his life," said Gibbs through e-mail correspondence. "When I decided I wanted to take some time off from college, I started researching AmeriCorps on the Internet, and decided that the *NCCC was the best program for me."

Gibbs, an agriculture business student at Abraham Baldwin College, is currently completing her training at the Sacramento base. Afterward, she will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., where she will work with city officials, the Internal Revenue Service and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance to help low-income people prepare their tax returns. Tax assistance will be only one of many areas Gibbs will concentrate on during her work with AmeriCorps.

There are 24 teams of 10 to 15 members, ages 18-24, throughout the Western Region campus. The members will participate in six focus areas: the environment, education, public safety, unmet needs, homeland security and disaster relief. The teams can be called to any location in the country to help in disaster situations.

Specific projects for the *NCCC include such things as tutoring children and building homes for low-income families.

"We usually have four project phases during this time, which last six to eight weeks, as well as numerous mini-projects that usually last for only a couple of days," Gibbs said. "So far, my team has done a fire mitigation project at the Colville National Forest in Washington state, which fell under the category of homeland security, and a two-week mini-project in Roseburg, Ore., working with an organization called the Umpqua Community Action Network."

Gibbs said that she is so impressed with AmeriCorps that she may sign up again as a team leader for AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America program.

"This will mean one extra month of service, and a lot more responsibility," she said. "I would definitely like to continue to do service work for America."

Gibbs, a graduate of Tift County High School, attends St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Tifton. Her father, Dr. Jeff Gibbs, is chairman of the business division at ABAC, while her mother, Elizabeth Gibbs, works for the district attorney's office. Her sister, Rachel Gibbs, is also a student at ABAC.

AmeriCorps members receive room and board and a modest living allowance for their service to the program. Upon successfully completing the program, members receive a $4,725 Education Award that can be used for educational advancement or for repaying student loans.

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs run by the Corporation for National and Community service. For more information, call 1-800-942-2677 or visit the Web site, www.americorps.org.



To contact reporter Dusty Vassey, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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