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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
Did you know that some of the programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) banner have been in existence for nearly 50 years? We’ve created a new national service timeline to show how we got to where we are today.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, the global community observes World AIDS Day as the march continues toward creating an AIDS-free generation. AIDS United, a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and AmeriCorps grantee, is one of many groups supporting the work on the front lines of this epidemic.
When asked how to best honor her husband, Coretta Scott King replied, "The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others." As the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service approaches on Jan. 21, 2013, teachers and students across the country are exploring the idea of service to others through an online curriculum created by the Corporation for National and Community Service and Scholastic
As the Hurricane Sandy recovery continues, the Serve.gov blog will highlight some of the best stories from the field. Today we have a personal reflection from AmeriCorps NCCC member Nicole Wojcik, who is serving with team Delta 10 and staffing a donation hotline in New Jersey.
The transient nature of military life can make life difficult for students in military families, and many are stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for less than two years or experience parental deployment. They often have challenges with making new friends, fitting into social groups, and connecting with the community.
As President Obama said in his proclamation declaring November as Military Family Month, behind each service member "stands a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse -- proud family members who share the weight of deployment and make profound sacrifices on behalf of our country."
AS220 Youth Studio, a Rhode Island program to help troubled youth get involved with the arts to bring positive outcomes in their lives and longstanding AmeriCorps VISTA project, was recognized as one of the nation’s 12 most outstanding arts programs for young people during a White House event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
This Thanksgiving, as we gather with loved ones and give thanks for the blessings in our lives, let us also commit to share those blessings through service to others.
As the Hurricane Sandy recovery continues, more stories are starting to come in about our national service members' experiences in the field. Whether they traveled across the country to affected areas or collected much-needed items far from the storm's path, their work continues to inspire.
The following post was originally published on the White House Blog on November 19, 2012. Arthur T. Dean is the Chairman and CEO of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and a retired Major General in the U.S. Army.
A day designed around the idea of “thanks” is a natural for those who want to give back. And as Americans have opened their hearts and wallets to disasters like the Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts, there are many other ways to show thanks by helping those in need this holiday season.
President Obama visited with members of FEMA Corps, a unit of AmeriCorps NCCC, during his November 15 trip to survey the Hurricane Sandy damage in Staten Island, NY. A small contingent of the 428 FEMA Corps members currently serving in New York and New Jersey met the President at a Staten Island Disaster Recovery Center as the scene was broadcast across the nation.
Last week, I led a delegation to New York and New Jersey to visit sites providing disaster assistance to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Throughout the day, we were joined by local elected officials who are working hard to meet the needs of their communities. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, New Jersey Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), and New York City Councilman Brad Lander each joined us for a portion of the day.
The work continues on the Hurricane Sandy recovery front in New York, New Jersey, and across the Northeast as approximately 1,200 national service members have been deployed in response to the storm. Read on to see some of the stories about service and volunteerism in the super storm’s wake.
Today's Wordless Wednesday focuses on national service in action as members and volunteers from the Corporation for National and Community Service programs join others working on the Hurricane Sandy recovery.
Many members of the national service family are hard at work in areas stricken by Hurricane Sandy, providing services that keep the recovery moving forward. Check out some scenes from the work we captured recently in New York and New Jersey.
On Veterans Day, thousands of veterans around the country will spend their time doing what they know how to do best: serve others selflessly.
My name is Rebecca Lange and I am a proud alumna of the second class of AmeriCorps NCCC. I served at the Central Region campus in Denver, CO, from 1995-1996, a wide-eyed high school graduate looking for an adventure, a unique way to serve, and beyond excited to begin what I hoped to be an awesome life.
Many of our AmeriCorps members have made cross-country treks to help with the Hurricane Sandy recovery and cleanup. Now one group from the Washington Conservation Corps has had its transition from working on trail projects to helping at a Brooklyn emergency shelter chronicled in The New York Times.
On Veterans Day, November 11, we honor the brave men and women who have selflessly served our country and risked their lives to protect our freedoms. There are many ways to give back to the more than 23 million vets who have sacrificed so much.
Community HealthCorps Navigators serving through the Institute for Family Health (IFH) have been involved in Hurricane Sandy Relief in a variety of areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City.
A six-member crew from the AmeriCorps Cape Cod Fire Corps is currently in the middle of a one-week deployment to the Fort Wadsworth area in Staten Island, NY.
One of the things we love about our AmeriCorps Alums is that they are ready to answer the call when they hear of situations like those created by Hurricane Sandy. “Getting things done” is more than a slogan for our national service family – they are also words to live by. So let's talk about how you can help.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced that approximately 936 national service members have been deployed to seven states affected by Hurricane Sandy, with 855 additional individuals on standby for assignments in the hardest-hit areas.
As the recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy continue, the Corporation for National and Community Service will publish a digest of news items that underscore the response of national service participants across the nation. Visit this page regularly to see the latest updates.
When it comes to massive storms like Hurricane Sandy, many dangers remain long after the weather event has dissipated. Some areas far from the front lines of the devastation won’t make headlines but will continue to feel the storm’s effects for some time to come.
The devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy is still being assessed, but there are several ways you can help those affected by storm. The information below is compiled from FEMA. We will update this post with the most up-to-date and location-specific information as it becomes available. Be sure to check back regularly.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. While the worst of the weather is beyond some areas on the East Coast, Sandy remains a very large storm system that continues to pose life-threatening hazards for coastal and inland areas including high winds, heavy rains, dangerous storm surge and flash flooding, and snow and cold weather hazards in some areas.
An additional 112 AmeriCorps members have deployed as part of the CNCS response to Hurricane Sandy, bringing the total of national service members on the ground to 877. These members are serving in six states and include the 41 FEMA Corps teams previously deployed. An additional 900 members standby for deployment.
The Corporation for National and Community Service supports volunteer service across the nation, and we couldn’t let this weekend pass without saluting the millions who will take part in the annual Make a Difference Day. You can still find a project and join them if you hurry.

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