How many times have you seen something awesome and thought to yourself “I could do that…” even though someone has already done it? Sure, ideas are great, but we’re in AmeriCorps. We love ideas, but we’re all about getting things done. What people don’t always realize is just how much ‘getting things done’ actually gets done in order for an event or service project to come off without a hitch, not to mention everything that goes into the trainings Volunteer Maryland does for its AmeriCorps members.
People ask about my job, and after give the thirty second speech, more often they tell me that they could do it. “Not if you have a mortgage,” is my usual response. The truth of the matter is that AmeriCorps isn’t for everyone, not everyone “can do that…,” and it’s not just because of the work that gets done, but because of the sacrifices involved in undertaking a year of service.
The biggest sacrifice is the paycheck, or rather the lack of one. We’re all volunteers, after all. There is a stipend for AmeriCorps members – the service year isn’t completely without pay – but it isn’t a lot of money. There are lots of ways of dealing with living on a stipend, and we’ve talked about some of them here.
I really like talking about my Habitat build days – they’re the second thing that I tell people when they ask me what I do for a living. Most of the time people talk about how they think it’s awesome that I work with Habitat. Every now and then, though, someone will hit me with an, “I could do that…” My usual response is along the lines of, “Awesome! Let’s go build a house together!” No one has taken me up on the offer yet, which is a bit of a disappointment, especially when I find out that they mean “I could do that…” dismissively.
The point is that there’s a huge difference between, “I could do that…” and actually doing it. It doesn’t do you any good that you thought of Twitter ten years ago, or if you were the first guy to tear the lid of your cup of coffee so you could drink out if it, or that you’ve thought about volunteering with an organization whose mission you can get behind. The important thing is to get out there and do it. I am AmeriCorps – let’s get some things done together!