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AmeriCorps to aid Katrina cleanup

West Seneca AmeriCorps will be sending 22 members to the Gulf Coast over the next year to help in the continuing cleanup from Hurricane Katrina.

Four teams of up to six members each will travel to Louisiana and Mississippi for three months at a time.

"It is a very long deployment. It does take a lot of strength to leave your home base," said Dan Frontera of AmeriCorps.

Frontera said he is recruiting members from AmeriCorps branches throughout the country. So far he has received 10 applications. Most applicants are in their mid-20s, one is in his 30s, and another is in his mid-40s, he said.

He said nationwide recruiting, through the AmeriCorps Web site, will give more people a chance to serve, and give those who do exposure to many different people.

There will be a staff member on each team in addition to the AmeriCorps members. Members will receive a $3,800 stipend, and an education award of $1,800, Frontera said.

West Seneca AmeriCorps received $236,043 from the Corporation for National and Community Service for the program. It builds on West Seneca AmeriCorps' relief effort in November, when seven local members spent a month in the Gulf Coast.

Members will be provided transportation to and from the Gulf states, and will receive safety training and equipment before performing tasks such as mold abatement. The crews also will undertake debris cleanup and tearing down small buildings, Frontera said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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