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In the months leading up to her college graduation, Diana Martin sketched a mental blueprint for her future. Her past volunteer work as a summer camp assistant, tutor, and soccer coach all added up to one thing—educating children must be part of that future. And the AmeriCorps program, Diana decided, would help her reach that goal.

Recently discharged veterans shouldn't have to struggle to find work when they return home from
service, but they often do. AmeriCorps VISTA Heather Hays is helping vets make the most of a program
that lets them serve their country in a new way while placing them on a pathway to permanent
employment.

Helping homeless veterans get off the streets feels like work Duane Magee was made to do, and his
tireless quest puts him behind the wheel for thousands of miles each year to find them. He is living
proof to vets that recovery from homelessness and incarceration is possible because their story is his
story, and his quiet mission to assist them led to his nomination for a 2012 Martin Luther King Drum
Major for Service Award.

Last week, I joined a community conversation organized by the United Way of the Bay Area. It was one of five forums in my region, of more than 100 gatherings in 30 cities across the country this spring. These events are bringing together local leaders, youth, and citizens to map out a plan to help young people find paths to economic independence.

These words sit at the heart of my father's tireless efforts to advocate for change. He believed that protection from the hazards of pesticides; fair wages and improved working conditions were not achievable if not founded upon an improvement in the overall well-being of the community.

This week, nearly 100 AmeriCorps members boarded planes from Sacramento, CA, to New Jersey and New York where they will help residents affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild homes, remove debris, and manage volunteers. Southwest Airlines’ decision to donate travel to these young leaders made this deployment possible.

When Jerry* was nine, he was living with his alcoholic mother. All four of his siblings had already been removed from the home, but, somehow, Jerry was still there. Everything changed when, left home alone one summer day, the house caught fire and burned to the ground. As a result, Jerry was remitted to the child welfare system.

At the Corporation for National and Community Service, we hear and learn about amazing things happening through national service every day. But the best way to experience the power of national service isn’t in our headquarters in Washington, DC.

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