800,000 Strong - AmeriCorps Alums Rally During Government Shutdown
We've all seen the impact of the Government Shutdown - from federal civilian workers and national parks to Head Start programs and WIC Clinics - it's pretty bad out there. AmeriCorps VISTA members are among those feeling the pinch of this political mess. These full-time "Volunteers In Service To America" are fighting poverty in our most vulnerable communities and had their meager stipends reduced by 1/ 3 this week. If the shutdown continues they won't get paid until in ends. For some, that could be the difference between paying rent and keeping the lights on.
But unlike many shutdown stories - this one has turned hopeful. AmeriCorps Alums from across the country are rallying to help current members. This crisis has turned into a catalyst for action. Alums are mobilizing resources to help members through this difficult time - and hopefully re-engaging in the AmeriCorps community.
Since 1994 more than 800,000 people have participated in national service through AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps members have provided one billion hours of community service, supported 15,000 organizations across the United States, mobilized millions of volunteers, and improved the lives of countless individuals. The program is transformational for those who choose to serve in addition to those impacted by service. As a proud national service Alum, I've long believed in the impact of national service and the potential of the extraordinary network of AmeriCorps Alums.
The ethic of a lifetime of service has led many Alums to become leaders in government, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Those of us who were made in AmeriCorps have benefited long after our year of service and have a deep appreciation for the experience we had. We hire other alums, mentor current members, and advocate on behalf of national service...but it's not enough. Despite enormous potential, the network of Alums has never quite lived up to its potential to mobilize, leverage, and influence. With 800,000 alumni, we should be able to do more to build public and political support for civic engagement and service.
I'm hopeful that this crisis will not only lead to immediate action but a renewed commitment to national service.
Alums, take a moment to remember your year of service.
- Consider getting involved in your local Alumni Chapter and helping members today.
- Then think about what we could do if we all banded together to build a stronger national service program. What if everyone had an opportunity to commit to a year of service? Could we help more struggling readers? Lift more people out of poverty? Significantly reduce the drop-out rate? Engage even more volunteers? I think so.
- If you agree, get engaged with Service Nation and Voices for National Service - they are leading the national service movement.
If any group could turn the shutdown into an opportunity - it's those who were made in AmeriCorps. Let's do this.