As Megan wrote on Friday, we had some interesting service adventures last week! Celebrating the second anniversary of the Serve America Act by joining a bus ride organized by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism – the Serve America Express – was just fantastic. I love learning about how people serve and hearing their stories. The Serve America Express provided just that opportunity.
Over the course of our morning ride, I spoke with a number of community leaders, met a VISTA member who moved to Baltimore from New Hampshire (where she served her first VISTA year), toured a current Volunteer Maryland Coordinator Service Site, Paul’s Place, chatted with two members of Experience Corps, and visited with an AmeriCorps*NCCC team. Having served as an NCCC member and VISTA member, and worked with Experience Corps as well as VM, I felt like I was at a family reunion.
One of the great things about the Serve America Act is that it recognizes how much this country needs service – and how many different ways there are to serve. Service comes in all shapes and sizes, all political affiliations and religious beliefs. Service crosses boundaries of age and gender. The Serve America Act was a commitment to expanding service so anyone could serve and, more importantly, so everyone in need could be served.
At one of our stops on the Serve America Express, we met up with NCCC members, staff of Parks and People Foundation, and community volunteers who were working to create a friendly, useful community area at Gilmor Homes, where once only asphalt reigned. Little did we know when we pulled up that one of the Experience Corps members on the bus grew up in Gilmor Homes. Once the recipient of service, she now serves others. That’s part of the promise of the Serve America Act – the promise that anyone, from anywhere, can serve others.
We celebrated the second anniversary of the Serve America Act, even though we still await full implementation. We celebrate the spirit of the Act and we celebrate those that join us in service. Two years after the signing of the Act, our economy is still depressed and we face incredible challenges across all communities. The Serve America Act, when fully implemented, will enable more of our neighbors to join the service movement, to get on the bus, and to make a positive impact on our country. And let me tell you one thing – that is one ride I sure don’t want to miss.