AmeriCorps Alums Storm the White House!
Not really (we were invited). So last Friday, August 17th, the White House welcomed over 150 AmeriCorps Alums from 25 states for AmeriCorps Alums Day at the White House. I was excited to be there as the ServeNext Organizer for Miami, representing the AmeriCorps Alum Chapter of Miami and City Year Miami.
The event included a day long briefing on how AmeriCorps and national service is a pathway to opportunity and career advancement. On top of which, the White House Champions of Change program honored 12 outstanding AmeriCorps Alums, including Tim Morehouse, three time Olympian and medalist in fencing for Team USA.
If you were following the #WHAmericorps hashtag thread on Twitter you saw how there were many incredible speakers from the White House and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). My favorite speaker, as always, was Wendy Spencer the recently appointed new head of CNCS. Wendy used to be the head of Volunteer Florida, the Florida state commission on service, and as a City Year Miami alumni I’ve had many opportunities to hear her speak. She is personable, funny, energetic, and can hold an audience captive! CNCS is in good hands with Wendy.
Wendy and others kept telling us, throughout the day, how important our stories of impact are and we even heard many incredibly inspiring stories that day. However, one component I felt was missing was the call to action and the explanation of why we have to tell our stories, why it is important and especially- who needs to hear these stories. A group of us in the aftermath of this fantastic event spoke about the fact that AmeriCorps’ neck is on the chopping block again and how year after year we put a Band-Aid on the issue. We use call days and district days as temporary fixes, as we try to save it from being eliminated until the following year. Imagine if every one of the 775,000 Americans who has served in AmeriCorps would make it a priority to tell their story and educate their members of congress about the value and impact of AmeriCorps…well, I think it would go a long way in creating what should be more consistent and bi-partisan support in Congress.
This event was an important first step, and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it, but we still have a long way to go. We have to ensure the next generation continues to have the opportunities to serve our country the way we did-the way I did. In fact, this is one of the reasons I decided to become a ServeNext Organizer and work to unite the national service community in Miami. It is so vital to highlight what’s at stake in our communities if CNCS was to be eliminated (as several in Congress keep trying to do year after year).
So, if you are interested in participating in the movement to expand national service opportunities-join us. If you live in Florida, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.