Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a lot of posts from AmeriCorps alums talking about the impact service had on their lives. Laura talked about how she met a young man who entered medical school because of his service experience, Katelyn talked about learning to live simply and making friends, and Maureen talked about coming to a greater understanding of the struggles faced by many individuals every day and the struggles she faced during her year. I’m not trying to downplay the impact on them as individuals, not at all. After all, my experience with service in college is what led me to join AmeriCorps and the experiences I’ve had over the past year and a half have helped me grow as a person and come to better understand and appreciate the struggles of those around me.
But what no one has really talked that much about is the impact AmeriCorps members have on the organizations they serve in. On Wednesday, Corrine talked about the intersection of generations she saw at Cylburn Arboretum’s volunteer potluck luncheon. I like to think I had something to do with that. My assignment as a VMC at Cylburn last year was to recruit high school and college student volunteers, a key demographic that was largely absent at Cylburn before my time. I’d like to think that some of those 20-somethings that Corrine met are volunteers I recruited who have kept coming back. On Monday, Maureen talked about building and rehabbing homes with NCCC. Those are homes that would not have been built (at least not as quickly) without the help of her NCCC team. She and her group had a major impact on the organization and boosted their ability to serve their target population.
That’s really what AmeriCorps members do. Their service doesn’t just make them feel good about themselves, it increases the capacity of the nonprofits, government agencies, and schools in which they serve. They make it possible for these organizations to serve more people, faster and better and to provide services in times of need to those who would have otherwise gone without. Last year’s class of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators recruited 6,233 volunteers who served 53,208 clients at a value to their communities and organizations of over $1.5 million. That is a tangible impact of service. Sure, we can talk about how we’ve changed as individuals as a result of our service, but we can also show it in the numbers of people we recruited and served. I’d like to encourage those in the AmeriWorld, whether alums or host organizations (service sites, as we call them), to talk not just about the feel good impact their service makes, but also about the tangible impacts.
And if you’re looking for a rock star AmeriCorps member of your own, check out Maureen’s latest blog post for a link to VM’s service site application for the coming year and tips on how to write a stellar application!