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The Call to Serve

July 20, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from Kate Goyette, AmeriCorps alum and active member of the Bay Area Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

~Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet, novelist, musician, etc.

Service is a very powerful thing. When you view life through the lens of service, your perspective changes considerably.

But, what is service exactly? Though many people can define it, to experience it is quite another thing. Is it showing up when no one else does? Is it caring for a forgotten population no matter if the people or animals live your neighborhood, another state or another country? It is being willing to see that benefiting the greater good does have hidden benefits like getting to know your community better or becoming more empathetic?

I would argue that it is all of those things and more.

It’s been amazing to see the amount of people who have come to assist with the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin, Misssouri, many of them AmeriCorps members. In fact, Joplin is receiving a surplus of donated goods and volunteers, making the role of AmeriCorps members as skilled volunteered leaders even more critical.  In another news story from, I learned that volunteers from AmeriCorps and United Way have thus far contributed 50,000 hours of service in Joplin cleaning debris, accepting and sorting donations, etc.

It is very encouraging to be reminded that even during the darkest hour for some, others are willing to go the extra mile to help someone in need. I was reminded of this daily during my service with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), the residential AmeriCorps program that often mobilizes in response to disasters.  Working for the Community Relations Office, 450 AmeriCorps members reported their amazing stories of assistance to our office and wrote about how providing that assistance changed their lives in untold ways.

When we understand that life is about caring for each other and not about amassing material possessions and money or “keeping up with the Jones’,” then I think we start to value it in a different way. I know that AmeriCorps changed the way I view life, and I know it continues to do so for many others.

Kate Goyette works for 211/HELPLINK at United Way of the Bay Area and is an active member of both the Bay Area Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums and ServeNext, Bay Area. Take a look at her blog Your Green Guide that helps people learn new ways to live more sustainably.

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