This past weekend as I sat on the T (that’s shorthand for the subway in Boston) three young ladies sporting City Year jackets took seats across from me. From the snippets of conversation I could hear it was easy to tell they were excited about some ceremony they took part in earlier that day.
All of a sudden a voice was raised from the end of the subway car, “Congratulations girls. How big was your class?” A little surprised by the question, one of them slowly answered “270.” Picking up on the situation rather quickly, another of the City Year participants asked the woman who questioned them, “when did you serve?”
That struck me. Throughout my life, and especially since 9/11, that particular question has always been wrapped up with military service. Not to take anything from those who serve in that capacity, but I was moved to consider that perhaps AmeriCorps/City Year participants deserve some of that same respect. These young people are serving our country in their communities, strengthening our collective resilience everyday from the ground up.
So don’t stop saying thanks or buying a round for the men and women who serve(d) in the armed forces. Perhaps just consider doing the same for AmeriCorps members too.
Some background on AmeriCorps:
AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country.
Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.
AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity for young people entering the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.This is the broadest network of AmeriCorps programs. These groups recruit, train, and place AmeriCorps members to meet critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.VISTA provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based, residential program for men and women ages 18-24. Its mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.
A little bit of information on City Year:
At City Year, we’re working to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support the students in the communities actually need, and what their schools are designed to provide. In doing so, our model is designed to support students as they progress from elementary through high school in order to continue to build the nation’s urban graduation pipeline.
Our progress can be attributed to a unique, holistic approach, which we call Whole School Whole Child. It’s based around a group of carefully selected, highly trained young adults—our corps members—who provide individualized support to at-risk students, while also establishing an overall positive learning environment in the schools throughout America that need us the most. It’s their dedication and hard work that’s helping students reach their full potential, while also having a positive effect on the community as a whole.
If you haven’t had enough yet, I’ve embedded a couple of videos below. Former Presidents Clinton and Bush taped videos in celebrations of the program’s 20th anniversary this year, and President Obama spoke at this year’s swearing in ceremony in Washington, DC.