AmeriCorps, one of the national service programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service, is what I (and others) like to call “the domestic Peace Corps.” AmeriCorps is volunteering and making a difference right here in America – in your hometown, in your neighborhood, with the people and organizations in your communities who are working to make our country better. It lives up to its motto and much more: “Getting Things Done!” I’m relatively new to AmeriCorps (some may say I’m an “AmeriCorps Wannabe,” others an “AmeriCorps Champion”), but I LOVE IT, and what it stands for – making a difference in the lives of our fellow Americans. Here are 5 ways that AmeriCorps is changing the country (and why you should get involved, too!):
1. The National Service Movement is Big…and Growing
AmeriCorps proudly celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and more and more people across the nation continue to join AmeriCorps and volunteer in national service programs. Each year, over 75,000 Americans serve as AmeriCorps members, and over 900,000 AmeriCorps members have served our country since the program began in 1994. That’s a lot of people volunteering for America…what’s stopping you?
2. Anyone Can Do It
AmeriCorps is open to many ages and all types of people who are interested in making a difference in their communities and meeting real needs through direct service to individuals and groups in nonprofits, schools, and public agencies. Whether you’re wondering what to do after high school or college (join AmeriCorps, VISTA, or NCCC) or you’re retired and/or age 55 and over (join Senior Corps), there is a place for you to volunteer and be a part of National Service. AmeriCorps and national service programs have a variety of different lengths of volunteer service time, as well, so you’re bound to find the timeline and commitment that works best for you!
3. The Impact is Real
AmeriCorps members volunteer and serve directly with individuals and groups and make a tangible impact in others’ lives. Whether it’s at a rural school in desperate need for tutoring services for kids, in an urban city planting a garden and guiding community members about sustainable gardening and nutrition, or teaching adults how to read for the first time, AmeriCorps members help to enhance the work that organizations are engaged in by bringing more hands on deck and providing services that the organizations’ couldn’t do without the help of AmeriCorps volunteers. Looking for a way to channel your passions and ideals in a meaningful way? AmeriCorps will help you make the impact you seek in a BIG way.
4. Employers are Taking Notice
As part of the AmeriCorps 20th anniversary celebration on September 12, 2014, President Obama started the initiative Employers of National Service. This initiative highlights the employable skills gained by AmeriCorps and Peace Corps members as a result of their volunteer service. Many companies, states, and municipalities have become Employers of National Service and are recognizing the value of volunteerism when seeking new employees. Now more than ever, AmeriCorps volunteer service looks great on your resume and just may be the edge that makes you stand out and land your next job!
5. Volunteering Increases Civic Engagement
AmeriCorps service unites you with a national program that fosters civic engagement, volunteerism, and pride. In AmeriCorps lingo, this is called the “esprit de corps,” and to me, this is the intangible feeling you have of being connected to a nation-wide group of people who are actively fighting together with you for better schools, towns, communities, and lives of American people. Volunteering is rewarding for the good it does both you and your community. When you’re part of a national community that is volunteering together and working towards the same goals, you gain a sense of unity and civic pride. Volunteering is at the heart of the American life, and AmeriCorps is changing America through volunteer service every single day.
Want to join in the national service movement through AmeriCorps? Visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps and volunteer today!
Christina Smith is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.