Tag Archives: Peace Corps

Miami Update

Matt and I are in Columbia, SC, officially on the home stretch of the trip. Last night we met with supporters in Miami at Miami-Dade College. Below is a long awaited picture of Matt and I:

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Miami was especially exciting because in many ways it served as “phase 2” of the ServeNext engagement process. Let me explain.

In March, Aaron, Zach, Matt and Patrick (Schmitt, former National Field Director for ServeNext) had a retreat in Miami, during which time they had a roundtable with the start up team at City Year Miami (about 10 people). The meeting was similar to the ones Matt and I have had throughout the tour. And what we saw yesterday was the ServeNext citizen-advocate movement beginning to grow. Instead of only City Year representatives, we had the opportunity to speak with AmeriCorps VISTAs, other AmeriCorps programs, such as Public Allies, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a handful of citizens who heard about the event through word of mouth. 

Through a diversified constituency and broader coalitions, we’re able to build strength in numbers. We had a chance to see this strength in Miami, and we look forward to seeing similar action networks throughout the country. We’ll have an update on Columbia and Atlanta in the coming days. Stay tuned!

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Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps

Change/Wire highlights Peace Corps, Teach for America…

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Be The Change, Inc.’s (BTC) Change/Wire blog highlighted a couple National Service-related items today:

To get the latest from our friends with BTC, follow them here on Twitter! 

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Filed under AmeriCorps, National Service in the News, Peace Corps

AP: “Sacrifice: An American Virtue”

AP article from a couple days ago entitled “Sacrifice: An American Virtue on Rebound.”  The whole story is worth a read, here’s some excerpts including an interview with Kelly Ward, the director of America Forward, and a history lesson on U.S. President’s calls to sacrifice from Washington to Bush.

What does sacrifice mean to Kelly Ward? Ask the 27-year-old Harvard graduate and she’ll first argue that she’s not personally familiar with the concept. Ward runs America Forward, an alliance of public service organizations dedicated to the principle that most of the nation’s problems are being solved somewhere — often by small, community-based nonprofit groups using innovative methods that government could support or copy.

“This isn’t a sacrifice because I believe in what I’m doing. I’ve found what I was created to do, which is to do my part to change the world,” Ward says while sipping coffee a few blocks from her Cambridge, Mass., office. “OK, I could make more money, sleep a lot more and have a personal life had I gone into a different line of work. But how’s this a sacrifice?”

Nearly every American president has urged citizens to serve the country and each other. George Washington stated in his farewell address, “You should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness.” In his famous “man in the arena” speech, Theodore Roosevelt said the conduct of every citizen matters to the health of the republic. Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Depression to give desperate men new jobs and eroded land new trees. John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps.

“On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country,” Kennedy said in 1961, “I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete.”

And then there’s George W. Bush.

In his State of the Union address after the 2001 terrorist strikes, Bush challenged Americans to commit at least two years “to the service of your neighbors and your nation” and created one of the largest service initiatives since FDR’s CCC. But after the war with Iraq came, he went silent on service.

Which brings us back to Kelly Ward, the 27-year-old do-gooder, taking her Ivy League education and putting it to use battling the nation’s ills, even as she questions whether this represents any real sacrifice.

She is part of an uplifting cultural trend: Young, highly educated, highly motivated people are bringing their best-business practices to the world of national service — fighting bureaucracies, lobbying government and spending money like venture capitalists to address the nation’s most vexing problems. They call themselves social entrepreneurs, and you can find them in the most desperate corners of America.

In many ways, Ward and her peers are more like the Greatest Generation than their parents’ Baby Boom generation.

“This is the next reform generation,” says E.J. Dionne Jr., a Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively about public service. “The metaphor I think about are the people who started out in service work in settlement houses before the turn of the last century.”

Settlement houses offered social services — food, shelter and schooling — for the urban poor and immigrants buffeted by the industrialization of America. Jane Addams was the founder of the settlement movement in America; she spoke of and to young and affluent Americans who yearned to make a difference, and find meaning in their lives.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious, is floating in midair, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life,” she wrote a century ago — speaking for her own generation and another in the distant future, one that hungers to pull together and help one another, to sacrifice and to serve.

The question is whether they’ll be forced to continue to do so on their own, or whether the next president will lead them.

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President Bush sends off Peace Corps volunteers, commending them for carrying on “the best traditions of American citizenship”

Photo by M. T. Harmon, Office of Public Affairs, Corporation for National & Community Service

Katie Saraiva (OH AmeriCorps ’07), who coordinated our National Service Express Tour event on Monday night in Providence, Rhode Island, was the first to report this event to ServeNext.  Thanks for the tip, Katie! 

President George W. Bush yesterday called the Peace Corps “the best foreign policy America could possibly have” as he celebrated National Volunteer Week at the White House, honoring Americans who give of their time to help the less fortunate and create impact in communities at home and around the globe.   

During an East Room ceremony, President Bush recognized 33 Peace Corps trainees preparing to leave for Guatemala and thanked them for dedicating their lives to serving others. This tradition of hosting Peace Corps volunteers for a formal White House send-off before the trainees leave for their service has been continued by every sitting President since Richard Nixon.

“I believe strongly in the admonition, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ Those of you here today are living up to that noble calling. And you carry on the best traditions of American citizenship,” said President Bush. 

Click here to read President Bush’s complete remarks on the Peace Corps or here to watch the entire ceremony.

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Caption Contest #1 Winners Announced!

The results from the National Service Express’ Caption Contest #1 are in!  Drumroll please…

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Our Funniest Caption Award goes to Jason.  Take a look!

“Typical man, that’s why we need a woman in the White House. The fish he caught was only this big.”

“Whatev’, it was this big.”

Our Most Relevant to National Service Award goes to Andy G.  Here’s his caption:

Hillary: Listen, I’ve defended National Service programs under sniper-fire. I’ve literally had to duck and cover while my security detail fought off would-be assassins as I visited Peace Corps members overseas…

Obama: See what I’m saying? My embellishments are waaaaay easier to believe!

Congrats to Jason and Andy G. and thanks to everyone who participated in this first round.  Our winners will receive limited edition ServeNext t-shirts!

Look for another National Service Express contest coming very soon…

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National Volunteer Week

President George W. Bush has released the following statement as part of a proclamation declaring April 27-May 3, 2008 to be National Volunteer Week 2008.  In it, he recognizes the service of citizens through the USA Freedom Corps.

Through volunteer work, Americans can demonstrate the kindness and generosity that make our Nation great.  Mentoring a child, teaching someone to read, visiting the elderly, feeding the hungry, and finding shelter for the homeless are all examples of how Americans can and do aid those in need.  Americans are volunteering in record numbers.  Each year, millions of Americans volunteer, and more of our fellow citizens are discovering that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service.  The cumulative effort of the love and compassion from our Nation’s volunteers will help secure a more hopeful future for all our citizens.

My Administration remains committed to building a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility.  The USA Freedom Corps strengthens civic engagement and volunteer service in America and helps people connect with volunteer opportunities.  By visiting the USA Freedom Corps website at volunteer.gov, individuals can find information about ways they can help in their local areas and across the country.

The USA Freedom Corps was created in 2002 by President Bush in correlation with his challenge to all Americans to commit 2 years – 4000 hours – in service over the course of their lifetime.  The USAFC works to build “a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility in America.”  The Freedom Corps works with the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve America, the Peace Corps and Senior Corps to provide volunteer opportunities to all Americans.  

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Filed under AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve America, National Service in the News, Peace Corps, Proclamations, Senior Corps

State Radio serves alongside Tom Morello on Justice Tour

We just caught wind of this great on-the-road service moment from Boston-based indie rockers State Radio.  They’re currently touring in support of The Nightwatchman (the solo project of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello). 

I first caught The Nightwatchman with Boots Riley of The Coup at the National Conference on Media Reform in Madison, WI in 2003 and was blown away by Morello’s raw, gritty approach to activism.  Unlike Rage or Audioslave, he does it simply with an acoustic guitar and the sound of his voice.  According to Morello, “Each night of this tour is going to be a freedom party.  We are going to create a little bit of the world we’d like to see.”   

Here’s the report from Los Angeles from State Radio bass player Chuck Fay:

besides the magnitude of players that are coming out for these shows, the real meat of Justice Tour is the local social activism that’s going hand in hand with the performances. on monday, a crew of people from the tour went down to a los angeles PATH facility to serve dinner and hang with the people rolling through. chad, mike, and i got dessert duty, obviously never a bad place to be, which consisted of cutting up and serving some good ol’ fashion pie. (insert cartman voice)   

Hit up State Radio’s Tour Blog entry #18 (to the left) for the complete story. 

chad urmston of state radio and tom morello (aka the nightwatchman) process their experience, photo by chuck fay  chad urmston and mad dawg of state radio do the dishes, photo by chuck fay  the result of some sick service, photo by chuck fay 

Now why service?  “There has been much talk about change this election season, but real change must start with people, not politicians. No matter who is elected, we the people must create justice on the ground,” Morello says. 

We at ServeNext.org couldn’t agree more.  That’s why we’re pushing for the expansion of AmeriCorps by 100,000 members and calling for increased support of the Peace Corps, Senior Corps, and Learn & Serve programs… so that people have the opportunity to serve full-time for year at places like PATH and can be impacted by the transformative power of that experience. 

No stranger to the National Service community, State Radio participated in several events at last year’s City Year convention in Manchester, NH and has made a point of encouraging fans to get involved in public service by inviting local organizations to have a regular presence at their shows.  We’re going to try to catch up with the Justice Tour this weekend in Boston, where The Nightwatchman and State Radio team up for a Sunday evening gig at Berklee Performance Center.

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Filed under AmeriCorps, Human Interest, Making the Case, National Service in the News, Stories of Service Impact