Diary of an Intern: Saving Service is Opportunity for All•
For the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of my spare time working to organize my friends, peers, and community to save service in America. I have been interviewed by The Boston Globe twice, WBUR, and my local campus newspaper, and each time I have been asked “Why are you doing this?” People are surprised to hear that I haven’t completed a stint as an AmeriCorps member, or that I don’t necessarily plan or desire to Teach for America after graduation, and insist that I must have something to get out of it. When it comes down to it, my motivation for saving service is to save the programs that make America a better place for the people who need it the most. It’s to ensure the opportunity these programs create – the jobs, the community building, the human compassion – continues.
Programs that receive major AmeriCorps funding such as VISTA, PeaceFirst, FoodCorps and others, work to better communities that are under resourced. The communities, youth and families that are served by AmeriCorps volunteers are some of the most disenfranchised people of our country. The AmeriCorps volunteers are indispensable mentors, role models, teachers, and allies. Seeing a college student, or any person who’s willing, volunteer to put their own life on hold in order to serve and better the life of another is an example of what I believe to be a true American quality.
A lot of the AmeriCorps positions create opportunity for meaningful work, personal betterment, and entry into the workforce for folks who otherwise do not have those opportunities. These are unique opportunities, however, because their benefit extends beyond just the individual – it often reaches to entire communities of people. AmeriCorps programs work to empower others with the skills to increase their own potential, such as Teach for America and City Year which help urban and rural youth overcome the challenges they face by living in working class America. The loss of AmeriCorps service opportunities would be a loss for the people of America’s underserved communities and a serious blow to opportunity in our country.