Tag Archives: national americorps week

Just Beet It

Weeding. Don’t know what comes to mind when you hear that word, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t a good thing, so you might be surprised that out of all the activities I did during National AmeriCorps Week in Maine, weeding was my favorite. Ok, that isn’t totally true, but I struggle to call drinking beer at a SeaDogs baseball game a truly philanthropic act. “Why was weeding so great?”, you ask. Well, being out at Rippling Waters Farm in Steep Falls, Maine brought me right back to one of my earliest volunteer experiences.

You see, in high school, I was in one of those programs where I was (*gasp*) required to complete community service hours to graduate.  A more common requirement these days, mandatory volunteering was a pretty rare thing back in my time.  In order to knock off some of the 150 hours needed, my best friend and I chose to work at the local history museum as historic interpreters – this meant “living” in the late 1800’s on a farm in our hometown just outside of Denver, Colorado.  We were expected to cook meals, do chores, and even play games from that era.  I would walk around in the hottest dress ever and say “Good Day” to the visitors.  I absolutely loved the garden – we’d weed it all day just so the two of us could sit around and gossip.

Not much had changed when I was down in the dirt last week for our service project – I got to know H., P., and J. (all current AmeriCorps members) as we cleared a row for some beet seedlings and chatted about life.    And here, I found the true meaning of philanthropy (or philanthropia as wikipedia tells me): loving what it is to be human.  I won’t go into the whole philosophy of it all, but for those of you unfamiliar with Alexis de Tocqueville, it is worth a little research.  de Tocqueville argued that the voluntary spirit is part of what makes America great – that we can get things done without always relying on institutions like government or churches to do it.  And, through our volunteer efforts we create a democratic civil society.

I don’t know if I really buy the idea that volunteerism is a uniquely American value.  The Ayn Rand Society will tell you that the volunteer ethic is in direct conflict with the American ideal of individualism, as it promotes self-sacrifice.  What I do know is that a day away from the office with dirt under my fingernails, making new friends and soaking up Vitamin D is one of the best reminders of what is so great about being human.  

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Ameri-ware

I’m just going to say it – I thought we were special.  Somehow, I got blind-sided and actually believed that everyone knew.  Guess you’re just as likely to be one of those people…yeah, that’s right…one of those people that isn’t celebrating National AmeriCorps Week today.  Ok, so maybe you were a little busy.  I mean, it is Reading is Fun Week, National Tourism Week, National Nursing Home Week, Salvation Army Week, National Women’s Health Week, National Police Week, and of course (my personal favorite) – National Stuttering Awareness Week.  For the sake of some appropriateness, I’m just going to let that go.  Maybe there should also be “National Writing Blogs about Volunteerism Week”…what do you think about that Mrs. Senator? No. Obviously that deserves at least a month.

Well, that was a nice sidetrack.  What I really wanted to tell you about are all the events planned for this week that celebrate national service.  It is easy to find something in your area – just go to www.americorpsalumsevents.org and search for your city or state.  Here in Maine, I can’t even keep up with all the things going on.  Maine AmeriCorps Alums is going wild with an event practically every day.  And, the Maine Commission for Community Service has a number of projects posted as well.

My goal during AmeriCorps Week? I just want someone (well, everyone, actually) to hear “AmeriCorps” and have some idea of what I’m talking about.  Volunteering abroad is cool and all, but if I have to say the sentence “it’s like the domestic PeaceCorps” one more time, I might flip.  Why is our country so unaware of the fact that every year more than 70,000 Americans donate a year of their time to service outside the military? I have no idea. But, I’m going to outreach-fair my tail off to make sure our community supports and appreciates its full-time volunteers.  Don’t doubt me – I am an AmeriCorps alum, and I will get things done! (That’s the AmeriCorps slogan, obviously).  Want to help me? Vote for AmeriCorps Alums on Pepsi Refresh – it’s a simple way to raise awareness about the impact of national service! Probably even better than making every word start with “ameri”…though I’m still going to call this my ameri-post during ameri-week (and I’m wearing ameri-gear).

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