Today’s guest blog is an interview between AmeriCorps Alums and Leroy “JR” LaPlante. Questions were developed with the help of The Corps Network alum Philandrian Tree, currently the tribal and program liaison to Arizona’s Coconino County District 4 Supervisor. The interview is part of our National Leaders Spotlight blog series profiling AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Award Winners honored for their lifetime of service. JR is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and has been passionate about improving government and tribal relations all his life. JR served as an AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with South Dakota Access to Justice in 2009. He later opened a private law practice serving the needs of tribes in the state and served as Chief Justice for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. He went on to become the first Secretary of Tribal Relations in South Dakota, and is now an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorneys Office for the District of South Dakota in Sioux Falls.
JR, can you tell us about your personal background and whether or not that influenced your decision to serve in AmeriCorps?
I grew up on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. My parents are both retired from the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Dad was a boiler maintenance worker and mom was a food service worker at the school cafeteria. I am grateful to my parents for their example and for instilling in me the values of hard work and public service. The reservation can be a place of great need and recognizing this as a youth, I committed my life to addressing those needs through service and volunteerism. My upbringing set me on a path of public service, and my service in AmeriCorps was a continuation on that path.
We know that life after AmeriCorps is both an exciting and challenging transition. You spent a year making America stronger, healthier, and safer—you deserve to have the personal, as well as professional resources, to succeed.
Today, we are proud to announce the launch of the AmeriCorps Alums Benefits Marketplace. AmeriCorps Alums is partnering with VelaPoint, an independent insurance brokerage licensed in all 50 states, to offer you a one-stop health, dental, and vision insurance marketplace.
Join us in celebrating Employers of National Service Amplification Day! AmeriCorps Alums has worked with the Corporation for National and Community Service and its partners, the Peace Corps and the Franklin Project of the Aspen Institute to launch this initiative on the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps.
We’ve been working towards this initiative for over two years and are well on our way to reaching our goal of welcoming 100 employers to this effort by the end of the year. AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Director Ben Duda says, “We have consistently maintained that AmeriCorps service on a resume matters. And we are thrilled to be part of a new movement to connect our nation’s top talent to jobs.”
Together, we will partner with these companies and organizations to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities for job seekers who served in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Director Mary Bruce says, “Public, private, and nonprofit recruiters tell us time and again that AmeriCorps alumni are just what they’re looking for: proven, dedicated, results-oriented leaders … the best of America.”
Check out and share our new “Top 5 Skills” infographic highlighting the skills and talents alums bring to our careers (pdf available here)!
Today’s guest post is sponsored by IPSL, an organization operating international graduate programs that combine academic studies, community service, and full cultural immersion to give students a deeper, more meaningful study abroad experience. To learn more about IPSL, visit their website.
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
My name is Sashalee King, and my AmeriCorps service influenced my desire to pursue a Master of Science degree in International Development and Service with IPSL (in partnership with the College of Mount Saint Vincent). I proudly became an AmeriCorps member in 2012, motivated by my desire to give “real service” sincerely and with integrity. I had the opportunity to serve two years with Public Allies Delaware.
My Public Allies journey began with the strong belief that young, diverse people can unite and become an influential force to enhance and transform communities. Through a 10-month apprenticeship with a nonprofit organization, a team service project, and weekly leadership trainings, the Public Allies program helped me inspire and unite my community.
Today’s guest blog comes from Tyler Wright. Tyler served in the United States Navy from 2008-2013 as Hospital Corpsman at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPDS), Bethesda, MD. HM3 Wright assisted in manufacturing and delivering craniofacial prosthetics to wounded warriors and cancer survivors, managed the second largest annual budget at NPDS, and co-created the Faculty Practice Dental Department. After the Navy, Tyler continued national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the non-profit organization Student Veterans of America (SVA) in Washington, D.C. Tyler was subsequently hired by SVA as Senior Regional Outreach Director where he continues to “take the pulse” of the student veteran community, harkening back to his days as a Corpsman.
I was a Hospitalman Apprentice (HA) in the Navy at the time when I heard Hospital Corpsman Second Class Petty Officer (HM2) Waite ask me a significant life-changing question: “Are you in college?”
I paused for a moment, and then replied most ambivalently “No, not yet.” This vacant response was immediately met with a steadfast stare and retort that I remember clearly to this very day, “What are you waiting for?”
Today, we’re celebrating #GivingTuesday, a global celebration of generosity. We know alums are giving back every day, and we want to give back with you.
Here are five ways you can give with, and for, alums today.
- Give an Ameri-Gift. For a limited-time only, #MadeInAmeriCorps Travel Mugs are available for sipping your favorite coffee, tea, or cocoa blend. Donate $25 to keep our professional development opportunities (like our monthly career webinar!) free for Corps Members and alums—and receive a free travel mug as our gift to you.
- Give Time. Support causes you care about and find a place to volunteer today with our #GivingTuesday Facebook app.
- Give Goods. Give clothes, foods, books, and more! Then, click here to share how you gave with us on Twitter.
- Give a Shout-Out. If you heart AmeriCorps Alums, talk about it! Give us a mention, a retweet, a follow, or a like on social media. Click here to tweet a shout-out.