As you know, I spent most of last week participating in the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS). After the closing session, which involved singing along with Percy Sledge and laughing at John Oliver, I attended a meeting of AmeriCorps Alums. This was a very appropriate way to end the conference, as the presence of AmeriCorps members and alumni was a constant throughout NCVS. There are now more than 600,000 AmeriCorps alums and about 500 of them attended the conference. A bunch of them are also Volunteer Maryland alums, and it was wonderful to see their presence. I saw VM everywhere I looked; Heather Towers, our VISTA member at the ShoreCAN Volunteer Center, was quoted in the NCVS daily newspaper. In a session called “Innovate to Educate,” Rhonda Ulmer talked about the training and support she received as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator as key to enabling her to help support her children’s school. In the video shown at the closing session, VM VISTA alumnae from HandsOn Frederick, Eve Shafi, talked about how volunteering gives her a sense of accomplishment.
Also featured in that video was Earl Millett, Jr. Earl was a VM Coordinator and a Regional Coordinator in 2000 and 2001, then became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador. Earlier this year, Earl was also recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change.” And now Earl is a recipient of a Service Impact Award for environmental stewardship. As an AmeriCorps alum who now works with AmeriCorps members at Civic Works in Baltimore, Earl truly has dedicated his life to service. Earl has continued to support VM, most recently by participating on the AmeriCorps Alums panel at Destination AmeriCorps, and it’s thrilling to see him receive some of the recognition he deserves.
As noted in the press release from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Service Impact Awards recognize the outstanding impact made by everyday citizens who serve their communities. Here’s what CNCS said about Earl:
“For more than a decade, Earl Millett, Jr. has touched the lives of thousands of people through his volunteer service with AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and now as the Volunteer Director of Civic Works, a Baltimore AmeriCorps program dedicated to engaging at-risk youth in community service, particularly projects that promote energy efficiency and environmental improvement. Earl spearheaded a unique service project that engages individuals in environmental stewardship at Baltimore Civic Works, transforming neglected urban spaces and lots into community gardens and shared spaces. He also created Project Lightbulb, a program that sends AmeriCorps teams to low-income Baltimore City communities to provide residents with free supplies and information that they will need to increase home energy efficiency, helping families save an average of 53 kWh per home (approximately $90 each year).”
Earl’s service is inspirational, and is a testament to the impact that one individual can have. He’s also an example of the power of AmeriCorps Alums. Not everyone gets this kind of recognition but over 600,000 individuals have participated in AmeriCorps programs that demonstrate real positive impact on our communities. 557 of them were VM Coordinators and 51 were VM VISTA members. Awards like this enable us to celebrate service and its impact. They also leave me incredible proud to be a part of this kind of community. Congratulations to Earl and all VM and AmeriCorps Alums for your service impact!