OGDEN -- The folks at the nonprofit Cottages of Hope have a busy couple of weeks ahead.
The group finished celebrating the fifth annual AmeriCorps Week on Saturday and will hold an open house June 2 at its offices at 2724 Washington Blvd.
Personal documents can be shredded for free from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. that day, and a Weber County sheriff's officer will present an identity theft-prevention seminar from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"When you have your identity stolen, it takes so many hours of your own time to get your credit back to where you were," said Development Coordinator Kirstin Downie.
It is frightening how easily it happens, she said, and it can happen so quickly that people are not even aware their credit has been ruined.
At the June 2 event, area residents can learn how to protect their identity against theft, as well as protect the credit of their children, which Downie said is a new target for identity thieves.
Some of the statistics are scary, she said. Children as young as 5 months are victims because most people do not check their credit until they are 18.
"It's a new concern that is just coming into the light, (and) people need to know how to prevent it from happening," Downie said.
The Ogden-based Cottages of Hope is dedicated to developing resources and services to help residents out of poverty.
It is a full-service community computer lab providing free help with employment and housing resources, computer software and training, and financial education courses.
Helping residents protect themselves against identity theft fits into the center's mission.
"Everything we do is done to increase a household's finances and earning potential," said Jeremy Botelho, co-executive director. That includes risk management.
Identity theft is a quick way for someone to be ruined financially through no fault of their own.
Attending the seminar and becoming educated on how prevent identity theft "can save a number of individuals in the long run as opposed to dealing with it after," Botelho said.
On Saturday, the center wrapped up a week dedicated to AmeriCorps volunteers.
In Utah this year are about 1,900 AmeriCorps volunteers, most of them college graduates and retired professionals, providing a year of service.
Volunteers work with small nonprofits, essentially providing a full-time employee, something most of the nonprofits could not afford on their own.
Volunteers get valuable experience, such as grant writing and coordinating programs.
Downie came to Cottages of Hope through AmeriCorps. She moved to Utah after several years of a lightning pace in Washington, D.C., giving her a chance to reconnect and give back by working closely with several nonprofits in the area.
"I decided to take a year and come to a smaller area -- enjoy the area and get to know the community," she said.
Cottages of Hope has had five volunteers and will welcome a new volunteer in June.
"When we initially started out, we were a small two-man operation," Botelho said. "AmeriCorps has helped us expand our capacity and helped us reach the community more effectively."
For more information, contact Cottages of Hope at 801-393-4011 or visit AmeriCorps.gov.