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MSW at USC: One Person Can Ignite a Movement

August 19, 2014

The following post is from AmeriCorps Alums partner, the University of California Masters of Social Work. Learn more about their program and $5,000 scholarship for accepted AmeriCorps Alums here – and please join their webinar hosted on 8/21 at 8:00 PM EDT to hear more information on the program and testimonials from current students who are AmeriCorps Alums.


One Person Can Ignite a Movement

Some social issues can seem like they are impossible to solve. The scope of solving hunger in America or helping wounded veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, a single person can make a difference by taking initiative.   Are you the next person to ignite a movement?

Let the following examples of individuals inspire you to take action for the causes that matter to you most.


EatingDisorder (1)

The issue: Self-esteem and body image

The individual: Caitlin Boyle

The idea: Negative self-talk, or “fat talk,” is toxic emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s time to end it.

The movement: Caitlin Boyle was tired of feeling the pressure to look “perfect,” and she was fed up with hearing other girls point out their physical flaws. With nothing more than a sticky note, a pen and her positivity in place, Boyle began leaving “you are beautiful” messages everywhere she went. She snapped a picture and posted it on her blog and asked her readers to join her in this small act of random kindness. Almost immediately, women from all walks of life began posting their own anonymous notes in public places and sending pictures to Boyle. What started out as a scribble on a mirror has grown into a movement now known as Operation Beautiful that is helping women everywhere end negative self-talk about body image — one sticky note at a time.

Read more…

What Fosters Community, Self-Awareness, Passion, and Purpose?

August 14, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from  alums who gained a sense of community, self-awareness, passion, and  purpose through AmeriCorps, and who shared stories on twenty.americorpsalums.orgThis is our sixth blog in the #Iamthe20th series! While our awards nominations deadline has passed, we are still collecting AmeriCorps Alums stories to celebrate throughout the year. Do you want your AmeriCorps program or Alums chapter to be featured next? It’s easy! Take a picture with our #Iamthe20th sign, post it on social media with the hashtag #Iamthe20th, and email your blog to!


Paula Grisales

Paula Grisales PicWhy did you share a story on

I, Paula Grisales, was born and raised in Colombia; I am married with two children and two lovely dogs. My family is the most important part of my life; it is a blessing, gift, and my biggest source of inspiration to become a better human being and a more competent professional. Helping others to ameliorate their quality of life has also always driven my passion to continue to advance in my studies and in every aspect of my life.

I decided to share my story because people need to know the positive impact the Corporation for National and Community Service – AmeriCorps – has on individuals, communities and society as a whole.  I feel blessed for all the amazing people I met and for all the wonderful things I learned while helping others!  I feel very proud to say that I learned to give the best of myself no matter the situation and strive for excellence and care for others. I want to inspire people to serve and promote positive changes in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

Where did you serve and where are you now?

THEN:  I served as a Public Ally (AmeriCorps) and was placed as a full time intern at the Community Investment Department of the Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) in Orlando, FL. As a Public Ally I had the opportunity to participate in rigorous leadership training activities, and I was able to support the Public Allies Team Service Project with Foster Kids and Foster Youth from Central Florida through research and other volunteering activities. As a Financial Stability Outreach Coordinator, I contributed to the enhancement of the Prosperity Campaign of the HFUW by doing community outreach. I connected residents of targeted low-income areas of Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, to programs and services of the HFUW to help improve their financial stability. I identified community partners and created new partnerships for the Prosperity Campaign of the HFUW in the Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. I supported public relations and activities of the HFUW, and extended the number of people being served by its programs in low-income areas of Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. I also developed and delivered public presentations.

Read more…

How We Can Respond to Those Affected by International Disasters

August 12, 2014

Hyatt LorenToday’s guest post comes from Loren Hyatt, an AmeriCorps Alum who works in international relief and development. This blog is the second in our International Careers Series sponsored by IPSL that profiles leading alumni of AmeriCorps working in international and intercultural careers.

After a large-scale, international disaster strikes—such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti or the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—many of us want to jump into action and help those affected.  We feel that we have so much and just want to find a way to contribute to those suffering in the aftermath of a disaster. We see devastation and suffering on television, we hear pleas from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for donations, and we participate in conversations at our schools or places of worship as to what we can do to support people who seem so far away.  More than anything, we want to know how we can help.

In response, some of us donate to NGOs and charities that we support. Others prepare relief goods to be mailed overseas.  And, some of us even travel overseas to try to respond firsthand ourselves.  However, as a country works to overcome a large-scale disaster, we must ask ourselves: are our efforts helpful?

Loren interview Melanie, a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan who lost her house in the storm. Melanie received shelter repair materials from Lutheran World Relief, as well as a voucher from another NGO responding to the storm.

Loren interviews Melanie, a Typhoon Haiyan survivor who lost her house. Melanie received shelter repair materials from Lutheran World Relief as well as a voucher from another NGO.

For the past four years, I have worked in international relief and development for both the U.S. Government and NGOs, specializing in international disaster response.  I have had the opportunity to spend time in Kenya and Ethiopia, supporting the U.S. Government’s response to famine and drought in the Horn of Africa.  After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, I spent the majority of November and December in the country helping Lutheran World Relief (LWR) set up its disaster response activities and report on the situation. I also returned to the Philippines in January and March to follow up on response activities and coordinate with LWR’s staff on transition efforts from relief to longer-term recovery.

While jumping on a plane after a disaster hits and helping those at their time of greatest need may not be something that everyone can do, there are ways that everyone can make a difference in the lives of those suffering from disaster.

Read more…

Finding Careers Through Service: Blog 5 of the #Iamthe20th Series

August 7, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from  alums who shared stories on and now serve with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. This is our fifth blog in the #Iamthe20th series! While our awards nominations deadline has passed, we are still collecting AmeriCorps Alums stories to celebrate throughout the year. Do you want your AmeriCorps program or Alums chapter to be featured next? It’s easy! Take a picture with our #Iamthe20th sign, post it on social media with the hashtag #Iamthe20th, and email your blog to!


Jamie Orozco Nagel

Jamie 20thWhy did you share a story on

I shared my story because AmeriCorps provided me with an opportunity to act on my passions and to make my country a better place.

Where did you serve, and where are you now?

THEN: Notre Dame Mission Volunteer AmeriCorps Program / St. Columbkille school (2005-2006), and Iowa Legal Aid AmeriCorps Program / North Central Regional Office, Mason City, IA (2006-2007).

Now: Program Officer, Economic Opportunity with Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps.

Through service I learned more about working with the Spanish-speaking immigrant community, and I decided to become a professional social worker.  I have pursued career, volunteer, and advocacy opportunities in which I can work with others for social justice.

Read more…

Reflection Is as Important as Taking Action

August 5, 2014

Smita Vadakekalam

Today’s guest blog was originally published on The Connected Cause blog maintained by Heller Consulting and appeared on August, 1, 2014. Recently Heller Consulting’s Vice President of Professional Services, Smita Vadakekalam, was asked to participate in an AmeriCorps Alums webinar to talk about her career in Philanthropy and how she got there. Below is a recap of her experience with the webinar as well as her journey with AmeriCorps.

In May I participated in a webinar titled “Careers in Philanthropy” conducted by the AmeriCorps Alums. There were 2 additional panelists who had also served in AmeriCorps and attended The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I was happy to participate, and was able to reflect on how my experiences as an AmeriCorps member and student of philanthropy connect to the career I have now. I didn’t see it at first, but it soon became clear how my AmeriCorps year at a nonprofit housing developer plus my two years studying philanthropy brought me to Heller Consulting to work in nonprofit technology.

Read more…

We Found Our Calling In Service: Blog 4 of the #Iamthe20th Series

August 1, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from alums who shared stories on and mark our fourth blog in the #Iamthe20th series! Do you want your AmeriCorps program or Alums chapter to be featured next? It’s easy! Take a picture with our #Iamthe20th sign, post it on social media with the hashtag #Iamthe20th, and email your blog to!


Loretta Salazar-Morgan and Dan Morgan

Loretta and husband pic.finalWhy did you share a story on

We were asked to, but we continue to support AmeriCorps and National Community Service programs. If we can encourage a young person to change their own life and make a difference in the community, we are all for it!

Where did you serve and where are you now?

THEN: We both served in AmeriCorps NCCC at the Denver campus. Dan was in Class I and II; I was in class II and III. We have been together since meeting in year II.

NOW: We are now married with three young boys. We currently live in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

Skills & lessons learned to make a difference

Read more…

Virtual Career Fair Proves Companies Eager to Hire Talented Alums

July 31, 2014

July 2014 Career Fair Image

On July 8th, AmeriCorps Alums piloted a Virtual Career Fair with 15 employer partners led by title sponsors American Red Cross, Boys Town and Teach For America.  This inaugural effort, which will become a seasonal event, successfully linked Alums to nonprofit, corporate, and government organizations eager to recruit from our talented Alums network. One recruiter values that Alums are “flexible, work effectively within diverse communities, and are mission driven.” Another recruiter appreciated that alums come in with a team orientation, a “client and community focus, strong communication skills, and experience building relationships.” We agree and are eager to expand the pathway from your service to your career with more partners. Currently, our partners have over 15 job opportunities you can apply to now!

Read more…


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