Involved for Life: A Story of Achievement and a Lifetime Dedication to Service
“The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to individuals who have completed 4,000 or more hours in their lifetime.” (https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/the-award)
After receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, Janet Hertz spoke to AmeriCorps Alums about her lifetime dedication to service. Janet served two terms as a NCCC member in 2007 and 2015, but also as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand (2013-2015). We are honored to share her story as part of #1of1million celebration of One Million AmeriCorps members.
- Thank you for serving in AmeriCorps for multiple terms! In a few sentences, can you share more about where you served, with which AmeriCorps programs you served, what you did, and what leadership and career skills you developed because of your service?
My domestic service work with AmeriCorps spans a pair of service terms eight years apart. In 2007, I served with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). I was based in the Western Region in Sacramento, California. My first two spikes were in Louisiana following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a construction site volunteer manager rebuilding houses into homes. My third spike was serving in New Orleans as a health, information, and technology center instructor in the ninth ward in partnership with Xavier University. My last project with NCCC was in Crown King, Arizona as a wild land firefighter and Emergency Medicine Services (EMS) first responder, as I was on a fire team with NCCC.
My second AmeriCorps service term commenced in September of 2015 at Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus in Georgia. During this service term, I was an academic and life skills tutor for high school youth residing at a psychiatric treatment facility. I planned and implemented community events, after school programming, and a service learning project. Through my service learning project, I was able to teach my students about global human rights issues through the beautiful game, soccer. We built a soccer field, painted a mural, and knitted hats (which we sold and donated the money to a nonprofit to hand deliver soccer balls to third world nations).
Through my pair of AmeriCorps service chapters, I developed and expanded my leadership and many career skill sets.
As a Corps member, I learned adaptability, strategic thinking, and moreover that there is no greater prize in life than the reward of helping others.
- Congratulations on receiving the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award! The award was started as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by example, inspired others to engage in volunteer service. What does it mean to you to receive this award, did knowing about the award influence your service, and how do you think volunteer recognition like this can inspire others to serve?
My undergraduate alma mater, Saint Joseph’s College (Rensselaer, IN), has a mantra “involved for life”. There I received their prestigious Edward Panozzo award for dedication and intense commitment to social humanitarian endeavors over my four years. I have continued to serve the world domestically and internationally. Thus, it brings my heart great joy to see that others may be inspired to join the
quest to help others and show them that someone cares through the recognition of my volunteer efforts through this Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a NCCC Corps member, college spring break students were some of the volunteers that I served alongside as their construction site supervisor. One of those volunteers was inspired to serve in AmeriCorps and served with me as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. I know firsthand that my service work models for others the possibilities of what can and does happen when we invest in the potential of others by giving our greatest gift: time. It simply challenges and inspires others by being a good example of giving to others.
- When sworn into AmeriCorps, members make a pledge to a lifetime of service. This commitment to service was reinforced when AmeriCorps Alums conducted a survey of the organization’s membership in 2014 and learned that three in four alums want careers that change the world. What are your plans for your life after AmeriCorps? How do you hope to keep developing as a leader and change-maker who helps build strong communities?
My commitment of service is not limited to a prescribed amount of months nor hours. It is an embarkment of my lifetime. I am a Returned Peace Corps volunteer, as well (Thailand, Youth in Development 2013-2015). My service and humanitarian spirit post my AmeriCorps service will continue internationally with a second tour of service with the Peace Corps. I plan on being a change-maker and community builder on a global scale. Through capacity building internationally, I can assist with the ability of others to see that at the core people of all nations speak with a tender heart and a smile. Through my AmeriCorps chapters of service, I learned how to develop stronger communities as I have gained valuable leadership skills via unparalleled growth opportunities.