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Volunteering with Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families

July 22, 2014
Birte Keays

Birte Keays

Today’s guest post comes from Birte Keays who served as an officer in the German Army from 2002-2008 and got a first impression of what AmeriCorps can get done by working for the Literacy AmeriCorps program through the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, Florida. She was inspired to serve again, and is currently an AmeriCorps VISTA CADCA VetCorps Prevention Coordinator at Serve DC – The Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism. Birte’s work focuses on Veterans, Military Service Members and their Families (VMF) in Washington, DC.

Having served myself and being married to a US Navy veteran, I have experienced the tough transition process from the military life to a civilian career, and even though we seem to have made it, I can relate to others who are having a hard time adjusting to the change. When you leave the military, it is not like just changing your career but changing your whole life. You come from a system that completely took care of you, starting with giving you strict guidelines about your work schedule and location, to setting expectations regarding your physical fitness, while providing you with healthcare. You are part of a unit, you go to places that others will never (want to) go to, and you have buddies you would die for, and they for you. And then it all stops.

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Alums Still Get Things Done: Blog 2 of #Iamthe20th Series

July 17, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from alums who shared stories on twenty.americorpsalums.org and mark our second 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 maria@americorpsalums.org!

 

Gordon Liu

Gordon Liu

Gordon Liu

Why did I share a story on twenty.americorpsalums.org?

AmeriCorps has had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. I have cherished the unforgettable experiences, memories, and skills, and hope others will have the opportunity to serve.

Where did you serve and where are you now?

THEN: 1st Term of Service – Breakthrough St. Paul (now Breakthrough Twin Cities) in St. Paul, Minnesota / 2nd and 3rd Term of Service – Youthlinks in Rockland, Maine

NOW:  Marketing and Operations Manager at the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) in Hope, Maine at the Maine Commissioner for Community Service and Co-President of the Midcoast Maine Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

Handcrafted through dodgeball and after school programs.

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Made In AmeriCorps

July 15, 2014
Michael A Gill-Branion

Michael A Gill-Branion

Today’s guest post comes from Michael A. Gill-Branion, a LISC AmeriCorps Alumni (1999 – 2001), who supports his wife, active duty US Army SPC Gill-Branion, Sarah A., and their two boys. He graduated from the University of Southern California  with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, Management and Planning (2006).  Currently, he’s a Joining Forces Alliance volunteer mentor for military families.

It’s the DREAM that counts.  But, I didn’t realize it prior to becoming an AmeriCorps member.  For years, I habitually told friends and family my dream to write a book someday.  But, I didn’t write a book prior to becoming an AmeriCorps member.  I also said I would go back to college to complete a college degree and dreamed of working in the entertainment industry.  But, those didn’t happen before becoming an AmeriCorps member too.  However, I’ve always been driven to help people.  I like helping people.

Michael with his wife, active duty US Army SPC Sarah A. Gill-Branion

Michael with his wife, active duty US Army SPC Sarah A. Gill-Branion

Odd isn’t it?  How life gets in the way of our plans and dreams.  One of the first lessons I learned in AmeriCorps is all humans are good people.  But, during the agonizing struggle to live life comfortably, we must compete against other humans for finite resources.  We recognize we need the same things, but we still seem to fight for our fair share.  This struggle we all suffer through is a circumstance that “can” knock us off our chosen path in life.

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Join Alums Celebrating AmeriCorps’ Anniversary: #Iamthe20th!

July 10, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from alums who shared stories on twenty.americorpsalums.org and mark our first blogs 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 maria@americorpsalums.org!

 

Christie Schichtel

Christie Schichtel

Christie Schichtel

Why did I share a story on twenty.americorpsalums.org?

I would like to band together with national service alumni to continue to do great work in communities across the United States!

Where did you serve and where are you now?

  • THEN: Michigan Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Alma College (2009-2010), learner of the do-gooder ways, lover of all things food-related.
  • NOW:  Academic Specialist at Michigan State University– Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, proud AmeriCorps Alum, social worker, aspiring foodie.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

I built a lifelong network!

 

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Thank Mayors for Prioritizing Hiring AmeriCorps Alums

July 9, 2014

Today’s post comes from AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Directors, Mary Bruce and Ben Duda. On June 23, 2014, The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously endorsed national service as a “cost-effective strategy to meet city needs”  in the 82nd Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. Join us in thanking your Mayors for placing “a priority on hiring AmeriCorps Alumni who have gained valuable skills, including project management, team building, and budgeting.”

 

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Dear Mayors,

The challenges our nation’s communities face are real and urgent.  One in five children lives in poverty, and in many of our nation’s toughest schools, one in two young people does not graduate on time, or at all.  The rungs of the ladder to economic mobility are shaky.  Thank you for the work you do, each day, to address these issues, head on.  Your unanimous endorsement of national service as a “cost-effective strategy to meet city needs” passed in The United States Conference of Mayor’s 82nd Annual Meeting on June 23, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, sends a clear message that national service is a key resource in our shared work to “get things done for America.”

Since the founding of AmeriCorps in 1994, nearly 1 million AmeriCorps members have proven to be civic leaders, team builders, and problem solvers with a “get things done” attitude.  You have seen the power of national service as these Corps Members responded to natural disasters, tutored and mentored young people, offered health education to children and families, led environmental stewardship efforts, launched job creation programs, and provided other critical services in your communities.

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Money Can’t Buy What Service Pays Forward

July 8, 2014
Jamiel L. Alexander

Jamiel L. Alexander

Today’s guest post comes from Jamiel L. Alexander (YouthBuild AmeriCorps, 2001-2002, and AmeriCorps Supervisor 2002-2004). He currently serves as President of YouthBuild USA’s National Alumni Council and Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Leadership Council 

I was sitting in a Business Management class during this summer semester while my professor was giving a lecture. As I tried to concentrate on the classwork, a song, “Money Can’t Buy” (by Neo) played in my mind accompanying my thought process. I was thinking that the benefits of service cannot be bought similar to how affection cannot be bought in this song. In an effort to serve my community better, I’m taking courses in Business Law, Money and Banking, and Business Management that have given me a new outlook on service. It is through service that I have become a Millennial leader.  Yet, those who know me well (and even those who don’t) understand that service is who I am and what I do.

Since service is part of who I am, I knew I had to go to the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project Summit on National Service in Gettysburg, PA. I was one of many AmeriCorps Alumni who believe there should be a “bridge year of service” for graduating high school and college students.  In my opinion, this opportunity should be open to ANYONE. The need for the whole community, and not just parts of it, supporting service, was made clear to me by my conversations and participation in this summit of world and community leaders. Is it possible that 20 years ago, our pioneers of the national service community envisioned and imagined that we would be here, today, advocating and pushing this cause, humanity’s call, forward: Service to others!

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The Smile Trek: A 5,000 Mile Journey to Raise Funds for Cleft Surgeries

July 2, 2014
Winston Fiore, Photo Credit: Amanda Melati Ramirez

Winston Fiore, Photo Credit: Amanda Melati Ramirez

Today’s guest post comes from Winston Fiore who served in the Marines and AmeriCorps (Marines 2004-2006; AmeriCorps NCCC, 2003) and was originally published as “Why Clefts?” on The Smile Trek website. Winston embarked on a 5,000 mile walk through Southeast Asia in an effort to raise funds for facial-reconstructive surgeries in the developing world. Read more about why Winston focused his journey to fund cleft surgeries.

Smile Trek LogoIn the summer of 2007, my Marines reserve battalion spent three weeks training in Lingure, Senegal. I had never been anywhere outside the U.S. and Europe, and the trip was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The people, the culture, the customs… Come meal time, for example, the Senegalese commandos would circle around one collective dish of food as opposed to eating individually. Whenever we got a break in training, they would invite us over for tea, and we quickly learned the specific sound we were expected to make as we sipped the beverage. One afternoon, as we were all crammed in the back of a flatbed truck, passing through villages with the countryside unfolding before us, I decided I wanted to spend a year exploring the world.

The poverty I saw in Senegal had an enormous impact on me as well. I watched families dressed in rags dig through our trash in search of items they might salvage. I saw women transporting gallons of water on foot from faraway water sources because they didn’t have running water in their village. As someone who grew up in a middleclass American house-hold, witnessing such things was an eye-opener. I realized that in addition to seeing the world, I wanted to participate in it directly and contribute, in some small way, to its improvement. And if I wanted to meet people face-to-face as I had in Senegal, I decided there was only one way to travel: on foot. But how could a wayfaring former Marine be of service?

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