AmeriCorps is next stop on Dani Aca's journey

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
Dani Aca, an assistant at Lilian S. Besore Library in Greencastle, will head west with AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) early next year. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Dani Aca craved a change of scenery when she moved from Florida to the Greencastle area in June. In February, she'll get another change of scenery when she joins AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

Aca is headed for the AmeriCorps campus in Vinton, Iowa, which serves the north central region of the United States.

Until she leaves, Aca can be found among the shelves or behind the circulation desk at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle, where she works as an assistant and has discovered a passion that puts library work in her long-range plan.

 Ready to serve 

Aca describes AmeriCorps as a domestic Peace Corps. It is a federal, hands-on humanitarian program for 18- to 24-year-olds with five campuses across the country.

She was selected after a rigorous process that included an application and interview; personal statement about why she was interested in AmeriCorps and what she brings to the table; references; background check; and mental and physical fitness assessment.

"I think we should all give back to the community," said Aca, who expects her work to involve everything from Habitat for Humanity to forestry and natural disasters to soup kitchens. "I just want to help people ... If I want change, I need to be a part of it."

AmeriCorps participants are assigned to teams of 10 to 12 with a team leader. Aca's group will live on a campus in Vinton, Iowa, and go anywhere in the 15-state region when and where there is a need.

They are unpaid volunteers, but do receive a minimal living stipend and, when they complete their service in 10 to 11 months, an educational stipend.

In the library 

Aca already has educational goals for her future. She would consider additional adult service with AmeriCorps. but also wants to return to school to earn her bachelor's and master's degrees with the aim of working in a library.

She was hired as a library assistant at Besore after she moved north from central Florida to live outside of Greencastle with friends Gwendolyn and Anthony Sewell.

Aca holds an associate's degree in recreation from Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville and has a background in food service, but always has been a reader who loves libraries.

"They do so much for the community ... it's in my heart," she said.

"I kind of lucked into, but I love it," she said. "I've always been an active library attendee, but now I get to see the inner workings, like ordering books and programming. You get to interact with people you wouldn't normally interact with."

She's found Greencastle to be a friendly place where the people are kind and the scenery is beautiful. After the flatness of Florida, she likes the mountains and seeing the stars at night.