Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 5
Working for the Allies

     The media has made much of Generation X's lack of purpose,
compassion and leadership, but some recent UD graduates are shattering
that stereotype by participating in a new national program, Public
     "This program offers the opportunity to begin a career in
community service, as well as help students pay for their college
educations," says Tony Allen, Delaware '93, director of the Delaware
outpost of Public Allies in Wilmington.
     In addition to his directorship, Allen, 25, also serves as a
weekend counselor at Children's Home in Claymont, a group home for
abandoned children.
     "We provide an avenue to non-profit agencies and show students
that this is a viable career option. Many of our
participants-Allies-have been asked to stay after their
apprenticeships are finished."
     Allen equates Public Allies to a "domestic Peace Corps."
Essentially a paid, full-time apprenticeship for young people
interested in public service, Public Allies pays $13,250 for 10 months
of work.
     The program also provides $4,725 toward college tuition or
repayment of educational loans. As part of the AmeriCorps national
service program, Allies are paid with federal money and funds
contributed by local firms and non-profit agencies.
     Delaware's inaugural class numbered 20, including five recent
University graduates-Mary Kate McLaughlin, Nadine Messam, Amy Willner
and William DiIenno, all Delaware '94, and Jane Poppiti, Delaware '89.
     Each year, the staff identifies young adults (age 18-30) and
matches them with a non-profit or government agency for an intensive
1,700-hour, multicultural leadership development apprenticeship, Allen
     Throughout the apprenticeship, the Allies spend one day a week in
a training seminar to develop expertise in organization, management,
leadership and other employable skills. Public Allies identifies
experts in the field to run these workshops, fostering an exchange of
ideas across different backgrounds, issue areas, institutions and
approaches to solving critical public problems.
     Public Allies officially began in 1992 when a handful of
volunteers walked the neighborhoods of inner-city Washington, D.C.,
asking local store owners, school principals and community group
organizers for the names of young people who were "making a
difference" through their volunteer efforts. In 1993, a second crop of
Allies honorees lined the south portico of the White House, forming a
centerpiece for Youth Service Day. This commemoration, hosted by first
lady Hillary Clinton, saluted an estimated half-million young
volunteers across America and the organizations in which they work.
     "My interest was sparked by the marriage of big business and the
non-profits in the community," says McLaughlin, 23. "I've learned
about the concept of community reinvestment, where a company's
employees work as volunteers on certain projects, and how corporate
grants are instituted."
     McLaughlin works with the Institute for the Development of Human
Resources, an agency that assists the physically, mentally and
economically challenged. She heads a training program for people on
public assistance, helping them secure a place in the work force.
     "After the program, I may try to land a position with a non-
profit or I may use my knowledge to go into banking or private
business. I think I'm probably the only one in the program who is a
Republican," she says, with a laugh.
     DiIenno, 22, is director of the Dover, Del., site of the
institute, providing career counseling and job training. Poppiti, 27,
is volunteer coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware and is
primarily responsible for coordinating the Zeneca for Healthier Kids
campaign. Willner, 23, serves in the marketing department of Delaware
Technical and Community College. Her job is to develop more recruiting
materials for distribution to community-based agencies.
     The Allies integrate their team-building and public problem-
solving skills by initiating team service projects that tackle
specific issues facing the community.
     "I'm involved in a team service project known as Adopt a School,"
says Messam, 23, who is working with the Delaware Center for
Horticulture on a job training program for young people. "There are
six Allies working on this community project. Our role is to establish
a partnership between Bancroft Elementary School in Wilmington and
Delmarva Power. Mentors are set up to work one-on-one with individual
students to help them with their education and family life."
     "With the support and training of the program," Allen says,
"Public Allies allows young people, who might otherwise be overlooked
because of lack of experience, to enter the public sector. This
includes young mothers, economically disadvantaged young people and
college graduates burdened by school loans. It's a real learning
experience in many different ways."
     At its roots, a Public Allies apprenticeship is much like any
other job in American society, Allen says, but with the added value of
community awareness through the service projects and the development
of character, commitment and civic responsibility.
     "The program strives to bring together a diverse group of
people," explains McLaughlin. "It's actually a mini-society-different
backgrounds, personalities and skin color-where we learn to work
through problems to achieve the end-results."
                                                         -Terry Conway