A few years ago, a young teenager named Chris was living the street life in Austin, Texas, a high school dropout dealing drugs and facing bleak prospects for the future. While spending time at a juvenile detention center, two Senior Corps volunteers offered Chris love, support, and consistent finger-wagging, encouraging him to take his life in a new direction. Today, thanks to AmeriCorps, Chris has graduated from high school, gained valuable work skills, and found his passion in life -- becoming a wildland firefighter.
What an amazing week for national service! From the White House to West Virginia, service was in the spotlight.
By Valerie Jarrett, Neil Bush, and Michelle Nunn
The first immigrants to America came seeking freedom, but they survived -- and, in time, came to thrive -- because of their determination and because of each other. They valued self-reliance, but in times of strife they also knew could rely on neighbors, friends, sometimes even strangers to offer a helping hand.
That neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit is woven into the DNA of the American spirit. It defines in a very real sense who we are as a people.
It also unites us.
Three years ago Chris Oliver was unemployed and facing homelessness after being evicted from his Dallas apartment. He turned to City Square, a local nonprofit that provides vital services to neighbors struggling with poverty. City Square didn't just help Chris put food on the table – it gave him a second chance on life. He joined City Square's AmeriCorps program, where he served for two years. Now Chris has a full-time position working in the organization's homeless outreach program.
As one of the coordinators of the White House Mentorship Program I was moved by HandsOn Greater DC Cares' new initiative to encourage for-profit corporations to provide mentoring opportunities for under-served youth in the Greater D.C. Community. The organization demonstrates the importance of bringing public and private sectors to together to better serve our communities.
Ever wanted to learn more about AmeriCorps, volunteering, and national service? Here's your chance!
What do you get when you combine 200+ colleges, universities and seminaries; individuals from different religious backgrounds and beliefs; and an abiding passion for serving communities?
Hispanic leaders in Colorado, like so many in the United States, are committed to addressing challenges and improving opportunities for their community. They want to work with the Federal government to understand policies, access information, leverage resources, and build collaboration that will help provide solutions to pressing concerns. In Denver, I saw this commitment first hand.
We've all seen them – in every color of the rainbow and spanning kindergarten through university, the ubiquitous bumper sticker: Proud Parent of an Honor Roll Student. Parents everywhere are eager to display their child's hard work to the world. But parents aren't the only ones who have an opportunity to display such a sticker.
Last week, we gathered fourteen inspirational citizens to hear about their tireless efforts to renew and strengthen their communities through service and innovation. We met in New Orleans, the host city for the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, an annual convening of over 4,000 people working to make a difference in the lives of others.
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