Meet Iowa’s ServeNext Organizer
Why did you want to become a ServeNext Organizer?
In Iowa, national service really has changed the landscape of our state, most visibly, in the response to the 2008 disasters. We’re now more than four years out, and there are still AmeriCorps VISTAs, NCCC members, and community volunteers who, week after week, work to rebuild the neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids and other communities. They are in it for the long haul.
I’m very happy to be a ServeNext organizer because these members have earned the support of Iowans and of people across the country who see the value of service. I want to help build upon the support which exists, and put into tangible, grassroots action. ServeNext has a proven record of doing exactly that, all over the country. It is an organization I have respected for some years, and am very pleased to be a part of it now.
How do you think the work you will do as a ServeNext Organizer will be valuable to the national service movement as a whole and for your local national service community as well?
Our literally thousands of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members, as well as the volunteers they generate, have an esteemed and important place in the civic culture of Iowa and of the country. I hope and believe that by working strictly in grassroots mobilizing, I/we can make their work more recognizable to and appreciated by Members of Congress who are ultimately responsible for a consistent (and ideally, growing) source of funding for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
I also think there’s great value in recognizing our Congressional champions, like Senator Tom Harkin and others. A big part of our jobs is to show our elected supporters that we are grateful for their work, and that it makes a real difference in the country.
What 1-2 major things do you hope to accomplish as an Organizer?
I want to help develop a sustainable network of national friends and supporters in Iowa, who can stay involved and “plugged in” not just during budget battles, but also for great issues like member support, testimonials, and community outreach.
What do you see as the biggest threat to the national service movement today?
I am deeply concerned that even after 20 years of AmeriCorps members working in every state, there are still almost yearly attempts to cut its funding.
How can other people help?
If you’re in Iowa, call me. Or better yet, call your Member of Congress and tell them that you are a supporter of the AmeriCorps, and you hope that they are, too.
What excites you most about your position as a ServeNext Organizer?
National service is my first love in public policy, and it’s very exciting to be able to spend time each day to work on these issues. The work fires me up as much today as it did when I was a young AmeriCorps member nearly 20 years ago.
Why do you think it is important not only do direct service, but also take the next step and be a voice for AmeriCorps and all national service in America?
Former members are great ambassadors for national service, and we owe it to the public to show the value of things like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the role volunteers play in communities all across the country. Current members need our support too- the environment in which they work is heavily influenced by what’s happening in Congress. It’s up to us to make sure that environment is consistently pro-service.
Members of Congress, by definition, have difficult jobs and have to make difficult decisions each day. Our role as former members of AmeriCorps is to give them the tools they need to come down on the side of national service not simply when a disaster hits or when there’s a good budget, but year after year. The needs are always there, and because of that there needs to always be a place for service.