Something pretty cool happens the first time you put on your AmeriCorps t-shirt with that big “A” on the sleeve. You’re instantly recognizable as someone who is part of something that’s a pretty big deal. Working in your community to make it a better place is something that not everyone has the opportunity to do. We AmeriCorps members get to do it for a year, or two, as members, and a lot of us keep doing it long after our terms of service are up; sometimes with our AmeriCorps Alums chapters, or sometimes on our own.
Something that ties us all together is that big “A.” It leaves its mark on us all, in one way or another. One thing it does, though, is make all of us easy to approach. Try it – next time you see an AmeriCorps member with their gear on, shout out, “Hey, AmeriCorps,” and go over and talk to them.
I did this on my way to a meeting with the members in my region last Friday. I was on my way to Penn Station to catch a train to DC when I saw someone in an AmeriCorps t-shirt, and I shouted out to him as I was crossing the street. He waited for me to finish coming across the street, and I introduced myself. He looked a little weirded out until I told him that I was in AmeriCorps, too, and then he warmed up to talking to me. He’s a member at MICA’s Community Art Corps, and we talked for a few minutes about what our programs do in our communities. Good times.
This doesn’t work just for members; it works really well with Alums, too. I met an Alum in DC once who served in NCCC and was based in Denver. We talked about her year of service, and the impact it had on her career path. I met a waitress in Baltimore who also served in NCCC when she saw the AmeriCorps button on my bag and started talking about her year of service, and how she wants to sign up for another year because she missed it. Whenever we see each other now, we always greet each other with, “Hey AmeriCorps.”
So go ahead and try it, we don’t bite. The next time you see an AmeriCorps member out and about, shout out “Hey, AmeriCorps,” go up to them, shake their hand, and ask them about their year of service. You’re going to hear some interesting stories.