My Thoughts on National Service

Katrina MathisThe New Service welcomes new blogger Katrina Mathis. This is her introduction.

I decided to join the Peace Corps in the 10th grade during a brief Civics class discussion about volunteers in Africa.

Years later, during my senior year in college, I threw caution to the wind and finally dropped that “no postage necessary if mailed in the U.S.” tear card in the mail box, requesting an application from Peace Corps. A month or two or three later—I honestly can’t remember—I received my Peace Corps application and began a life changing journey.

At 22, when I touched down in Guinea, West Africa—to live abroad, immersed in another culture and language — my primary motivations to serve were the same as when I was 15, hearing about those volunteers in Africa.

The world has changed by leaps and bounds since I started my service journey. There was no Internet back then, so no on-line applications and AmeriCorps was in its infancy. Fast forward to 2009, a popular president with a strong, resonant call to national service and the stage has been set for this new era of service. And while there are still a few tear cards out there, a simple Google search can generate hundreds of opportunities for all who want to serve.

Abundant service opportunities today are only a keystroke away. The new challenge is weeding through them and finding the best one for you.

With a spotlight on national service and pending legislation that seeks to channel hundreds of millions of dollars to programs to fund a massive increase in service members, as well as service providers—the opportunities you’re currently weeding through will only multiply, as organizations begin to seek eager, committed and passionate Americans to fill these new positions.

I have been a recruiter for more than 10 years, first with Peace Corps and now with AmeriCorps*NCCC. Over the years, I have talked to countless people about why they want to serve and which programs are best suited to their short and long term goals. Undoubtedly, I have learned that the reasons people serve are as varied as service opportunities. But that’s another issue, for another blog so stay tuned.

National service is finally center stage and it’s exciting. As the newest addition to The New Service blog, I’m looking forward to discussing how to navigate through the national service application process—choosing a program, interviewing, etc. Likewise, I want to write about the benefits of serving in Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps too—or any service program in our new era of service.

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5 thoughts on “My Thoughts on National Service

  1. Great Intro! I look forward to your take on national service.

  2. I agree! This is a great intro. I hope the next issue comes soon. I want to answer the call for National Service and I’m not really sure where to start.

  3. Great Intro! We all appreciate your dedicated service at a recruiter. I will be sure to send inquiring applicants your way. The Minority (Returned) Peace Corps Association receives many questions from Peace Corps applicants, mostly about serving. However, we get plenty about other options of serving and talking to African American female returned volunteers. They also like getting different perspective by talking to different people who have been in the service field for a while. I think your blog will be a great help. Thanks!

  4. Great post. You make an excellent point about “weeding through service opportunities”. I’ve got a full time job and am a father and husband – when the service bug started to bite me, I saw all those silos of service opportunities and decided pretty quickly that I wanted to tackle the problem of making them more accessible. I’ve been pitching “event synidication” – the idea that organizations should share data about their service opportunities with each other – ever since. Technically this is not a hard problem, but it has been hard to get through the bureaucracies… Maybe you’ll be interested?

    Best Regards, Aerik

  5. Pingback: AmeriCorps*NCCC: Give A Lot & Gain Even More! « The New Service

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