US Flag AddThis Social Bookmark Button

 

Home United We Serve National Service
Mobile Menu Button
National Service Blog - Archive
by
Rebecca L.

By Joseph Clay, Former U.S. Marine Serves Tulsa Youth in AmeriCorps

On Veterans Day 2015, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer joined Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett in honoring veterans serving in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps at a Veterans Corps ceremony in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  One of the veterans she met that day was Joseph Clay, a former Marine Corps Sergeant now serving in AmeriCorps through Teach For America.  This is Joseph’s story.

My name is Joseph Clay, and I was, and
always will be, a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. I served my
country in war time, running combat operations as an Infantry Marine in Iraq. My
time in the Marine Corps was one of the most influential times in my life. It
molded me into a warrior and into a man of conviction. I wear that pride on my
sleeve as I continue to serve as a teacher in one of the highest needs areas in
the country – Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue my
service in the classroom where my experience can impact the lives of children
who deserve a quality education.My life has been a test of intestinal
fortitude and sacrifice. My story is unique to me, yet I see aspects of my
experience and identity shared with so many of my students. I grew up living in
poverty and now I serve a student population living in under-resourced
communities where violence is an everyday norm. I lost my father to a motorcycle
accident as a young child. Many of my students have only one parent at home. Like
my students, I tried to endure the challenges of poverty, but dreamed of one
day changing my reality. These shared experiences are why the work I do is so
important to who I am, and why I went into a life of service that started in
the Marine Corps and has led me to Teach For America and AmeriCorps.In the Marine Corps I served my nation
with honor. I also served alongside some of the greatest men I have ever known.
I believed in the spirit of America, and because of that belief I swore to a
life of service to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
It was with that purpose in mind that I fought in the Iraq war.  Sixteen of my brothers never made it home. I
carry their memory with me every day in the classroom as I fight today to end
educational inequity.June 16, 2006, was the day that changed
who I was as a person and ensured that the sacrifice of others would live on in
my heart. I lost two of my best friends that day to an explosion. My vehicle
was one of three that struck Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, in an
ambush outside of Ramadi, and what followed is forever ingrained in my mind. Many
in our convoy were killed and all were injured. It is that day that pushes me
to bring the message of freedom and equality with me in everything that I do.
Those men believed in our nation, and that day my mission to deliver their
message to others began. I sustained an injury, but I walked away. That injury is
a reminder every day of my life that I was one of the lucky ones. It is with that
mentality that I approach my service to this country, from the classroom and
beyond.Few things have the power to unleash a
child’s potential and open the doors of opportunity like an excellent
education. As a teacher, I can help my students break free from the cycle of
poverty and set their sights on any future they envision for themselves.
Joining Teach For America has allowed me to carry on my friends’ legacy as I impact
the lives of Tulsa’s youth every day as a math teacher at East Central High
School. I am proud to be a 2014 corps member and am one of a growing number of
veterans serving as AmeriCorps members in Teach For America. I encourage my
fellow veterans to join the fight to give our nation’s youth the education they
deserve. As I’ve seen among my fellow Marines, military veterans have a unique
experience and leadership ability that can add real value to the classroom. I get the chance to live the memory of
my fallen brothers in the classroom. Their sacrifice continues to motivate me
to make a difference and their love of our country and its opportunities push
me to be a better person in everything that I do. I am a proud member of
AmeriCorps; I served America, now I teach for America. Semper Fidelis!Joseph
Clay, former Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, serves as an AmeriCorps
members with Teach For America in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Keywords: Teach For America, AmeriCorps, VetCorps
Community leader and labor activist Cesar Chavez once said that, “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him ... The people who give you their food give you their heart."
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
For more 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens." The Medal is among the highest awards a civilian can receive.
Today's Wordless Wednesday focuses our recent celebration of AmeriCorps Week with a selection of photos from the AmeriCorps Facebook page.
Around the country, December is welcomed as a month of hope and good cheer. It may be a season for exchanging gifts, or for sharing time and resources with community members in need. For many, it is also a time to gather together with loved ones to reminisce about cherished memories and create new stories that will be shared in the future. Such stories preserve the legacy of a family, the history of a generation, and perhaps most important of all, the story of a nation.
As an Iraq War veteran, I am honored to work at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). We are home to more than 70,000 AmeriCorps members, whom we are celebrating as part of AmeriCorps Week.
For many AmeriCorps members, finishing a term of service is not an ending, but the beginning of a life dedicated to public service and improving the lives of others.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently, including a new initiative to place AmeriCorps members in underperforming schools across the nation.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced the five institutions that are the Presidential Awardees in the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.
The IRS filing deadline is less than two months away, reviving a task that ranks somewhere near having a root canal for a lot of Americans. However, there are many national service members who are ready and willing to tackle the job, free of charge, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Who says accountants should have all the fun?
Recognizing the work AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs perform in communities across the nation, the National League of Cities (NLC) will join more than 275 city leaders to shine a spotlight on their service during the Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service on April 9.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and U.S. Department of Education announced a new collaborative effort today to strengthen and accelerate interventions in our nation’s lowest-performing schools. The new School Turnaround AmeriCorps program will support a dedicated unit of AmeriCorps members that will provide additional support and resources in persistently underachieving schools.
Disasters like Hurricane Sandy not only cause physical damage, but they can leave confusion and anger in their wake for weeks and months. So it must have surprised FEMA Corps Team Leader Cassie Murray to be declared “an angel” only a few hours after she was angrily confronted by one of the storm's survivors.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
Today Sen. Harris Wofford received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama during a White House ceremony. We salute Sen. Wofford as he receives this honor and for his role as a longtime supporter and former CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. We’ve created a video that pays tribute to his legacy and highlights his life in public service.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama vowed to “make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America,” and he traveled to Georgia today to discuss the need for early childhood education. Improving education is a priority at the Corporation for National and Community Service that we support through proven national service efforts that make a difference in the lives of millions of students.
So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and florists will be scrambling to fill orders and chocolate consumption is expected to rise by maybe a jillion percent. Suppose we take this day dedicated to love and use it to show that we have big hearts by serving or giving to others?
The blizzard that whacked the Northeast last weekend paralyzed the hardest-hit areas, and created a gigantic task for workers mobilized to clear roads and restore electricity to areas that lost power. The storm is a reminder that this season can pack a punch, and we need to be prepared to handle winter’s wrath.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently
The Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor, recognizes American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Sen. Harris Wofford will be honored along with other recipients at a White House ceremony on Friday, Feb. 15.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
The chance to get in on the ground floor and build something new attracted recent college grad Ben Barron to the FEMA Corps AmeriCorps NCCC unit. Last fall his class went to work with the Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery effort in New York, where he learned a lot about himself and the strength of the human spirit.
A new video and photos from the National Day of Service and Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service show the enthusiasm of people around the nation as they used the time to volunteer during the holiday weekend.
As the big game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers approaches this Sunday, the mayors from those cities are taking a different approach to the traditional, friendly wager. This year, the focus will be on volunteering and community service.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.gov blog. In this series, we showcase articles that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. This week, we’re focusing on some of the great stories about the National Day of Service and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service from around the nation.
This weekend was a major moment for national service, and I want to share some of the many highlights that inspired me.
When people talk about mentoring, the discussion often focuses on the young people being served. But mentors will tell you that they also get something from these special relationships. Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, shared her mentoring story with us.
Volunteers packed the D.C. Armory in Washington, DC, on Jan. 19, 2013, to participate in Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service and National Day of Service activities. Participants assembled 100,000 care kits for Operation Gratitude and wrote letters to U.S. soldiers during the event. Watch this blog for more National Day of Service photos from around the nation.
On April 9, mayors across the country will highlight the impact of national service in their cities and thank the individuals who serve during the first-ever Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service. The initiative will be led by U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Cities of Service, and other organizations.
This weekend, Americans will join their neighbors in the National Day of Service and Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) encourages everyone to take some time during the holiday to make it “a day on, not a day off.

Pages

Stay in Touch

Follow us on the following social networks, to ensure that you are always up to date!

Facebook Icon
Twitter Icon
YouTube Icon

 

 

CNCS Logo

Tell us how we're doing: serviceinitiative@cns.gov

National Service websites:

 

Back to Top