Category Archives: A Lifetime of Service

Taking your commitment beyond your service year.

Bill Clinton remembers Eli J. Segal at Brandeis University speech

On December 4th, as part of the kick-off speech for the new Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program lecture series at Brandeis, Bill Clinton reminisced about his friendship with the late Eli J. Segal, architect and original head of the Americorps program. The presentation included video footage of Segal speaking about his friendship with Clinton.

“I was just thinking all over again what an astonishing human being he was,” Clinton told the crowd.

“He had a quality that was relatively rare in public service, government service, at the time. He could take a vision and turn it into a reality.”

The new leadership program is divided into 3 parts:

The Eli J. Segal Citizen Service Fellowship will provide stipends to create 15 summer internships at Brandeis, in which students will serve with selected non-profits and other organizations dedicated to public service.

The Segal Fellows Network will serve to connect Segal Fellows and others who have been recognized in programs created in Segal’s honor, as well as Americorps Alums, in an effort to foster relationships that will boost community service efforts and effectiveness, and make the Segal Fellowship credential more valuable and useful.

The Eli J. Segal Memorial Lecture will provide lectures from prominent leaders – including policy makers, service leaders, social entrepreneurs, Segal Network members, etc. – speaking on the subjects of civic leadership and public service.

Keeping my hand in

The Americorps Alums chapter I belong to here in Asheville is sponsoring an essay contest for students in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. The winner will get a ticket to the swanky MLK Day breakfast, and some other prizes like a gift certificate and whatnot (those haven’t been finalized yet).

Knowing that I’m a writer by trade, the chapter leader asked me to help out by writing up the flyer/handout that goes out to the students explaining the contest. It was fun, easy and felt good to be doing something to keep my hand in with my Americorps program. It’s that whole “Lifetime of Service” thing – it sounds cheesy sometimes when you say it, but it really is nice to be a part of something that continues after your year or two of service is up.

Anyway, just wanted to share what I’m up to. I can’t wait to see the essays when they come in (I think I remember volunteering to help judge, as well; I may live to regret that 😀 ).

Is Americorps about to go BOOM?

In this brief piece, the author talks about the increasing need for more programs like Americorps and Peace Corps to absorb the coming influx of Baby Boomers who are going to be suddenly finding themselves retired and looking around for something to do with their time that doesn’t make them feel like an old fart.

The writer mentions the Americorps Senior Corps, along with Peace Corps and Experience Corps, as great options for aging go-getters, but notes that more will be needed.

He may have a point. There are a lot of Boomers out there, and these programs are only so elastic. Perhaps we need to start working on ways to make use of this incredible and probably unique population surge of restless energy. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the legacies of the Boomer generation was the creation of even more powerful ways to serve others.

Quick Americorps roundup

Just got back from a week’s vacation in the land of the unwired, so I’m going to catch up with a quick roundup of interesting Americorps news tidbits I’ve corralled from the web:

  • Campus Progress does a good job of outlining the benefits of National Service for college graduates in its article, Don’t Sell Your Soul.
  • The Buffalo News highlights the Enterprise School, a charter school that provides intensive education, support and opportunities for inner-city youth with the help of Americorps members and other volunteers.
  • A page from the Americorps site shows you how to put your Americorps service to work for you.

John Edwards signs pledge to expand national service

After a stop at a House Party in Dover, presidential hopeful John Edwards signed the Presidential Pledge to Expand National Service (pdf). Woohoo! (OTOH, John McCain declined to sign even while acknowledging that Americorps volunteers were “the best we ever had.” An action which makes obvious sense…wait, what?)

In short, the pledge promises to expand Americorps service positions by 100,000, to support policies that make it easier for folks to serve 4,000 hours (2 years) to national service, to promote service learning in schools, to support and expand the Peace Corps, and to increase service opportunities to seniors.

Read about this momentous event, and the tenacious work of ServeNext member Tate that it took to get it done, at the ServeNext blog, BlogNext.

Smells like team spirit

The annual United Way Day of Caring was last Thursday, and as an Americorps Alumni I took part in a service project (although it actually took place on Saturday) along with some of the new team members for this year and a couple of my colleagues from last year.

What did we do? We painted, of course. 😀

As if I haven’t had enough of painting recently, I signed up for an afternoon slinging a brush at a local group home for autistic kids. Whadda ya gonna do? You got a skill, you run with it.

Anyway, the morning crew had gotten a lot done by the time we got there, and our crew managed to almost finish the rest of it. By the time we were heading home, the only things left were some touch up work on the walls and a second coat on the trim. Sweet.

The local paper said that this year’s Day of Caring resulted in 1600 volunteers helping 87 programs with 6500 hours of service for an estimated $122,000 worth of services. Don’t know that those figures included our group, since our project didn’t happen on Thursday, but still – wow. That’s an incredible happening to be a part of.

That’s the point of Americorps Alums, though – the concept that serving your community doesn’t just end when your term of service does. The goal of Americorps Alums, aside from being a support system for previous Americorps members, is to produce citizens who are committed to a lifetime of service. I’m one of them and I can definitely tell you this – you’ll get back far more than you will ever have the capacity to give. Being able to live in a community that you know you are helping to make stronger, better and more successful is a buzz that no drug can touch and no downturn can take away.

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Things I did this year for the first time

Spending a year in Americorps is a great way to learn and do new things. Here is a woefully incomplete list of some of the things that I did for the very first (and maybe only) time as part of this year’s Americorps service.

This is, at best, an extremely abridged list – I’ve skipped over a lot of little things and no doubt I’ve missed some biggies that just aren’t coming to mind right now. But that will give you an idea of the breadth and depth of new experiences that I went through in just one year (and doesn’t take into account the stuff I learned during my first year with Habitat for Humanity).

For those of you just now coming into Americorps, I’ve got just one bit of advice: buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, you’re in for a crazy ride.

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