AmeriCorps Week: Realizing the need for national service

This week marks the fifth annual AmeriCorps Week. As a proud AmeriCorps member service with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, it is a time to reflect on my two years of service and to be inspired by the service of others.

This year, I feel that we are at a critical time in the national service movement. The republicans attempted to slash federal funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service in this year’s budget. Thankfully, they failed to get rid of us completely, but we did lose some funding.

At a time when education budgets are being cut to the point where the school years are being shortened and thousands of young people seeking a college education are being turned away, national service couldn’t be more important.

We need to stop viewing service as something that is “nice to have” and recognize that it is something we need to have.

Since 1993, 540,000 Americans have proudly served their country via AmeriCorps. They have served in schools teaching children how to read, in low income neighborhoods providing vital services such as access to food, counseling and shelter, in the wilderness protecting our environment. They have been some of the first responders to natural disasters and have played a huge role in rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And it has certainly changed my life. Through my service, I have learned to take action to fight some of our nation’s most pressing issues (namely education), to work with diverse groups of people, to know what it means to be civically engaged and to not be afraid to take risks.

I am eternally grateful for the experiences I had due to my participation in AmeriCorps. And hope that this week, you will ask an AmeriCorps member about what they have done in their service. See for yourself why our country needs this and maybe even see how you can get involved.

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