Keeping service a part of your life after AmeriCorps

As the year winds down, Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and AmeriCorps members with Volunteer Maryland are looking forward to transitioning into a new phase of our lives.  While no one enjoys having to mail timesheets every two weeks, one thing it reminds us of on a regular basis is our commitment to serve up to 10% of our time in direct service.  How awesome is it that we are allowed to count our volunteer hours towards work?  As we transition out of our positions, it would be great to continue that commitment to service on our own. 

AmeriCorps members serve in varying capacities throughout our nation.    From greening to poverty alleviation, members give time and expertise to help nonprofit organizations achieve their missions.  There are a TON of benefits to being an AmeriCorps member.  For example, many people state that they developed their professional skills and gained confidence to transition to a new field or that they gained perspective about the field to which they would like to dedicate their professional careers. 

Another aspect of development that people don’t directly talk about, but evidence is seen in their activities after the end of their year, is the continuation of service in their lives.  Is it surprising that so many AmeriCorps members pursue careers in the public sector after their service year?  Not so much.  What is surprising however is the amount of individuals who state that their direct service was the aspect of their time with AmeriCorps that was the most memorable.  Being able to see how your service has a direct impact on the clients or environment in need is so rewarding.  Many AmeriCorps alums state that their direct service was something that they miss.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t have to be!

If service is something you crave during your day to day existence in your new position, here are some tips for infusing impact into your job! 

  • Suggest an annual service day:  Many employers are happy to adopt a service day that allows employees to service a particular cause.  These sorts of service days are great for fostering a team spirit among employees.  Also, the good publicity doesn’t hurt either!
  • Time with the Clients:  If you work for a nonprofit organization that serves a particular population of clients, ask your boss for some time once or twice a week to work with them.  Being able to see firsthand how your organization serves its clients can to a world of good for productivity and perspective gaining!
  • Mandatory Events:  Take advantage of events that require mandatory staff participation to get to know your volunteers. Ask to help out with volunteer coordination, specifically with volunteer positions that work directly with your clients!
  • Group volunteering: Gather up a group of your co-workers and volunteer with a local organization after hours or on the weekends!  This is another great way to build a team spirit and foster relationships with your co-workers!
  • AmeriCorps Alum Events:  Participate in service events sponsored by AmeriCorps Alums.
  • National Service Days:  Suggest that your company participate in National Service Days and set up a service project to impact a particular cause.

 For all you AmeriCorps Alums out there, what do you do to keep directly serving a cause?

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