Looking to Serve Your Community?

When you think of ways a person could serve their country, what comes to mind?

There’s a push for more avenues to be considered beyond military service for people who still want to serve, but in a different capacity. Last year, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service was established by Congress as a federal entity to review and provide recommendations on addressing needs of the nation, including ways to foster a greater ethos of service among American youth. The Commission is expected to issue its final report in late 2019.

Until then, the Commission will be working closely with service-related entities that include the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS - https://www.nationalservice.gov/), which oversees the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. CNCS is itself striving to change the conversation around what constitutes national service by providing multiple paths to service for people of all backgrounds. AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Peace Corps may be the most well-known of these options. Depending on the program, national service members receive a living stipend and/or and education award along with the opportunity to develop professional skills.

There are other initiatives, including the Service Year Alliance (serviceyear.org), that are joining the call for national service to be an alternative to military service and in the future, a common expectation for all young Americans. For those who still want to serve their nation and their communities, a service year is a fantastic alternative for Americans to become active citizens and leaders and gain experience so that they can enter (or re-enter) the workforce better prepared personally and professionally.

AmeriCorps and Senior Corps aren’t the only ways to take part in national service programs. Veterans re-entering from their military service can continue to service in a fellowship through Mission Continues in their local community (https://missioncontinues.org/). Mission Continues fellowships operate on a similar principle as civilian national service programs: to build skills for members while also making long-term, sustainable community improvements.

Habitat Michigan is working with affiliates and other community partner agencies to increase awareness of national service programs, create accessibility for those affiliates and agencies to host national service members, and provide opportunities for service for interested future members.

Bridget Ferrigan

AmeriCorps Program Manager