Amanda Lynch has a passion for working with children.
So when an opportunity arose to serve homeless children in Palm Beach County, the former Palm Beach Atlantic University student was eager to accept the challenge.
Starting this fall, Lynch begins working as a volunteer for the AmeriCorps VISTA Program, a national service program designed to fight poverty.
She will be based at PBA, and she will be involved in developing and implementing educational programs to assist Palm Beach County children who are homeless.
The University applied to be a host site for the VISTA program through Florida Campus Compact, a membership organization of more than 50 college and university presidents committed to helping students develop the values and skills of active citizenship through participation in public and community service.
Lynch will have access to more than 200 local nonprofit agencies through PBA's Workship Office. Workship is a distinctive community service program that has been at the heart of PBA since its founding in 1968.
"By helping homeless children stay in school, build their confidence and give them hope for their future education and careers, we will be making a long-term difference in our local community," Workship Director Carrie Skierski said.
Lynch, 21, previously has served as a Workship apprentice. Through the VISTA program, she will work full-time to create feasible and sustainable educational programs for children affected by homelessness.
"I'm excited just to see where it goes, because it has the ability to go very far," said Lynch, who is eligible to serve with the program for up to three years.
Lynch, who attended PBA from 2007 to 2009 and studied Christian social ministries, plans to complete her studies after her time with the program ends.
During the past few weeks, Lynch has been researching the resources available for the homeless in Palm Beach County. One of those is the county's Homeless Advisory Board, which has been working toward a goal of eradicating homelessness within 10 years.
Last school year, members of PBA's Students in Free Enterprise assisted the Homeless Advisory Board by developing a documentary about homelessness. Other projects are in the works as well.
Lynch notes that many people make assumptions about the homeless. "We see the person on the corner and assume that's homelessness," she said. "Even a death in the family or a loss of a job could cause someone to become homeless."
One challenge is connecting people with agencies that can help, she said.
"Poverty is not even a lack of resources, but a lack of knowledge that resources are available."