It is with great pleasure that I say Happy AmeriCorps Week! Throughout this week (starting on Saturday, actually), we’re really happy to be able to share some of our stories of how AmeriCorps Works. We’re highlighting some Volunteer Maryland alums on our blog and will share some photos and VM AmeriCorps highlights on our facebook page and on twitter. We’re all pretty excited about celebrating AmeriCorps Week and hope you are, too.
It’s been almost thirteen years since I first became an AmeriCorps member. I don’t even remember how I first heard of AmeriCorps. I know I spent hours working on my application before I mailed it in. I remember sitting on the floor of my college bedroom on the phone as I interviewed. I remember packing my belongings in one large duffel bag and taking my first flight to my AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corpscampus in Washington, DC. I remember wondering if I was crazy to start this journey.
Little did I know then that AmeriCorps would become my life.
I didn’t know then that I’d go on to supervise an NCCC team in my first full-time nonprofit job. I didn’t know I’d go on to be a VISTA a few years later. I certainly didn’t know I’d end up back at that same DC campus as a staff member or that I’d have the incredible opportunity to have worked with programs like Experience Corps before landing my present and fantastic gig with Volunteer Maryland. How could I have known? I didn’t even really know what AmeriCorps was and I certainly didn’t know the impact it would have on my life – and the lives of so many others.
AmeriCorps works. Of that there is no question. AmeriCorps works by training people of all ages to engage in their community, by giving them the skills to succeed in nonprofit and for-profit work, by helping them see the power and responsibility each individual member of our society has to make it better.
AmeriCorps works. AmeriCorps works by building the capacity of nonprofit organizations so they can be more effective and more efficient. AmeriCorps works by supporting our schools and helping our students succeed. AmeriCorps works by enabling seniors and those with disabilities to live independently. AmeriCorps works by cleaning up our lands and streams and by teaching others about the impact one can have on our natural environment. AmeriCorps works by providing housing services and emergency meals and job skills training. AmeriCorps works in times of disaster – and stays for years after those disasters leave the news and the minds of the general public.
AmeriCorps works by taking a small investment and matching it with resources from states, cities, towns, counties, parishes, private foundations, public universities, volunteers, and more. AmeriCorps works by multiplying a small amount of resources so there can be a big impact.
AmeriCorps works by pushing every one of us to work harder, to think smarter, to empathize more, to get things done.
Thirteen years ago, I realized quickly that I needed AmeriCorps. Those ten months in NCCC pushed me harder than I had ever been pushed. I learned more, gained more, and accomplished more than I could have hoped. But that’s not what it’s all about. It’s not just that I needed AmeriCorps – and it’s not just that I love it now – it’s that our country needs AmeriCorps.
We need AmeriCorps so we can have more people that work hard, think smart, empathize more, and get things done.
We need AmeriCorps so we can consistently make a real and necessary impact on our communities.
We need AmeriCorps to help us build the capacity of our nonprofit organizations so they can get closer to meeting their missions and our country’s greatest challenges.
We need AmeriCorps to be the jobs and the job training programs that are in desperately short supply.
And so I will celebrate AmeriCorps Week now – and I will continue to celebrate how AmeriCorps works every day of the year. I will celebrate AmeriCorps until we no longer have these needs. And when that day comes, I will sit back, take a deep breath, and say “I told you so. AmeriCorps Works.”
Happy AmeriCorps Week to all those who serve, who have served, and who have supported our service.