Millenials Take a Lead in Service Events
Although the question of what exactly defines the Millennial generation is still up for debate, one thing is unmistakably clear: Millennials are committed to service.
In a recent article in the Boston Globe, Linda Matchan explored some of the many service activities that are engaging high schoolers, college students and recent college grads in the Boston area – but this movement is by no means limited to just one city.
Around the country, Millennials are making a difference in their communities through service. By working within their communities, they are able to create safer neighborhoods through after-school and athletic programs that keep kids off the streets. They improve the quality of education by mentoring and tutoring students in subjects that they find difficult. And, most importantly, they inspire another generation of Americans to commit to serving their country.
In her article, Matchan describes a young man whose life experience was directly shaped by the service of a City Year corps member when he was young. Today, Antonio Gutierrez is a college grad and applying to law school – after he gives kids the same opportunities he was given. He’s spending this year working for City Year Boston. Here’s why:
I grew up in similar circumstances…I know how effective it is to have someone believe in you and tell you, ‘you can do this.’ I’m honored and privileged to be able to serve the community where I grew up.
Looking to make the world a better place is, of course, nothing new for the college-aged crowd. The ‘60s and ‘70s were marked by protests and demonstrations that looked to change the status quo and demanded institutional change. While today’s generation is just as committed to making the world better as their parents’ was, Millennials tend to prefer a more hands-on approach, according to Matchan. Service learning, service clubs and service activities are all important aspects of a young person’s life today.
So why now? Matchan has a few suggestions. Tough economic times means that applications for service programs have increased exponentially. According to Matchan, applications to AmeriCorps programs jumped from 91,399 in 2008 to 258,829 in 2010. That’s HUGE – and that’s not all. Colleges and universities and even some high schools have begun service-learning classes and across the country, organizations are working to engage the Millennial generation in service.
She also credits the surge in service to the actions of the past 4 presidents, all of whom, no matter their politics, have demonstrated a marked commitment to service.
I do think the constant drumbeat of presidents does lead to different expectations people have of themselves and others. It’s in the air and water now. It is what young people expect to do and want to do and what society expects of them.’
And for many Millennials, service isn’t just a hobby or even a graduation requirement: it’s a civic duty to their community and their country that needs to be fulfilled. When asked about her commitment to service, City Year volunteer and BU alumna Samantha Wolf had this to say:
Most of my friends know it’s their duty to give back before they settle down.
And what do we think about that? Well, as BTC’s Team Intern – made up entirely of members of the Millennial generation – would say: we couldn’t agree more.
Make sure you check out the full article by Linda Matchan here on the Boston Globe for more inspirational service stories and for more information on service. Did the article inspire you to serve? Check out My Nation on ServiceNation for service opportunities near you.