Back in 2001, the morning of September 11, as I was eating my bowl of Lucky Charms in stunned horror and trying to figure out just which plane my father was flying out on from Logan that morning (thankfully for my family it wasn’t one of the planes) I came to the conclusion I wanted to do something to help out. I was a little bit directionless and not enjoying my life as a First-grade teacher. Though my father served in the Army during Vietnam, I was cut from my mother’s cloth. Which means I was more bookish.
And that led me to joining the Americorps. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. It was in deed a place for hippies, and high-school graduates taking a year off and provided me with the opportunity to live in places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. Places, often made fun of in the New England area, that made me appreciate this country. I’m talking about Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, etc. It was some of the most beautiful country, but also had such a need for volunteers to help.
That year during my NCCC program, Sept. 2002-June 2003, I always thought we could have been doing more: more work, more volunteering, helping those who need more help. It could have been better organized in that it seemed the former Navy officers didn’t truly understand what to do with the 300 eager volunteers. But we were doing something and we were, however slight, making a difference. In schools, hospitals, building houses, disaster relief, at handicapp camps. As a corps member we were spread out throughout the Southeast making creating a positive change.
Some of my best friends were made during that year in Americorps and with the program having it’s budget cut, those friends are all but the last remains of one of the most rewarding years of my life. The Charleston, S.C. base closed down this past year.
Though not much can be done now, I recieved an email this morning from a colleague regarding the founding of a U.S. Public Service Academy, modeled after the prestigious military academies, whose goal is to train future generations of public servants and young leaders. Sounds like it’s a great long overdue idea.
From Diana Epstein’s email:
AmeriCorps Alums is helping to organize a Congressional call-in day on
Monday, February 12 in support of the U.S. Public Service Academy.
Within the next week, Congress will be re-introducing the U.S. Public
Service Academy Act. It would be wonderful if you could please
schedule 10 minutes out of your busy day Monday, and call your
Senators and Representatives to express your support for the Public
Service Academy. The objective of the calls will be to encourage your
Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor the bill.
To contact your Senators’ and/or Congressperson’s office, please call the Capitol Hill operator at 202-225-3121. To find out who your Senator or Congressperson is go here. Every call helps and taking ten minutes won’t hurt you.
Yes, it’s imperative that this country have a strong military to defend itself, but it also needs strong leaders who understand when that strong military should be used.