Philadelphia mayor recognizes STHM student for service initiatives
By: Courtney Kubitza
First Published: May 13, 2015
Topics: In the News, STHM School
A student in Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) has received the Mayor’s Award for Distinguished AmeriCorps Service in recognition of her service initiatives with Jumpstart Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter honored sophomore Alaina Billing during the third annual Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service reception and awards ceremony, held April 7 at Philadelphia City Hall. The event acknowledged the service initiatives of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and Senior Corps members across the Philadelphia region for their efforts toward community revitalization.
“Being honored by Mayor Nutter through this award was surreal because he has amazing support for AmeriCorps members and for national service,” said the 20-year-old Billing. “Although I have only been with Jumpstart for two years, it has become a part of my life. However, so much of the credit for my accomplishments with Jumpstart is due to the Corps supporting me.”
Jumpstart is an early-education AmeriCorps organization that recruits and trains college students to enhance language and literacy skills of preschool children in underserved communities. Though housed in Temple University’s College of Education, JumpStart is open to all Temple students. In her first semester at Temple, Billing had noticed Jumpstart’s poster hanging in the Howard Gittis Student Center while searching for a way to get involved within the Temple community.
“I felt like I was in limbo,” said Billing. “I was always involved in a lot of organizations in high school and I wanted to find my place here on campus.”
Billing, who now serves as a Volunteer Coordinator at Jumpstart, helped to recruit, train, and manage 126 volunteers who read with more than 700 children in 36 classrooms throughout North Philadelphia within Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign. She also established a Readers’ Program at Young Scholars Frederick Douglas Charter School. There, Billing is responsible for training two groups of fourth-grade students to read and facilitate post-reading activities in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms as part of an anti-bullying initiative. She is also responsible for recruiting Jumpstart volunteers, and plans Jumpstart events for its students and families they serve on a regular basis, such as Jumpstart for a Day, where more than 200 children and their family members participate in more than 30 educational activities based on popular children’s books.
Jumpstart Associate Site Manager Gina Federico nominated Billing for the Mayor’s Award, describing Billing as “unstoppable” in her role as Volunteer Coordinator.
“Alaina is a shining example of what it means to be a Jumpstart and AmeriCorps member, and has already created a lasting impact on Jumpstart Philadelphia that will be seen far beyond her years in the program,” Federico said.
Billing, whose concentration is in Event Leadership, has been able to apply her event coordination and communication skills from STHM to her work with Jumpstart.
“My service with Jumpstart entails work with people from diverse backgrounds and to coordinate with teachers and student’s parents to plan events,” said Billing, who is planning to enter STHM’s 4+1 Master’s program. “I feel as though a large part of the tourism and hospitality industries is making connections and making service feel personal. My hope is that my ability to plan events will continue to grow stronger through my experience with Jumpstart, as I prepare for a career in event management.”
Jumpstart is recruiting volunteers for the 2015-16 academic year. Those interested are asked to apply online, at jstart.org/apply, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.