A conversation about AmeriCorps NCCC — from people who know the program well. NCCC is currently accepting applications.
Last evening, I had dinner with two AmeriCorps NCCC alumnae, at a quaint French bistro with absolutely the best roasted chicken. Needless to say the conversation went where it naturally flows when national service folks are gathered:
“Which NCCC campus did you serve at?” “You did Peace Corps…what country did you serve in?” “So, two years…that’s a long time.” “What was your favorite project?” “Why did you choose NCCC?” “Did you like your assignment?” “Did you get along with anyone on your team?”
Satiated from her roasted chicken dinner and awaiting her crème brulee, Tiffany admitted she was attracted to NCCC because of the broad range of service opportunities it offered. She said the various project assignments (members complete four to five different projects in ten months) was a natural fit to her goal-oriented nature.
While Shawna, who’d just polished off a truly appetizing duck confit (she gave me a piece), was now savoring her profiteroles (the French kind filled with ice cream, not the Italian kind filled with cream). She mentioned that she chose NCCC, “because of their work with non-profits.” She went on to say, “The most rewarding part of my service was being able to respond to Hurricane Katrina and perform immediate disaster relief services with the Red Cross.”
Shawna’s team was on the ground three days after Hurricane Katrina struck. They joined other NCCC teams who had already been deployed and were waiting for the go-ahead to move into hurricane ravaged areas.
AmeriCorps NCCC teams were on the ground immediately after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast, working alongside the Red Cross as part of the recovery, response, and relief efforts, doing everything from tarping roofs, and mucking out homes, to supporting emergency response centers and distributing food and clothes.
I truly believe what is unique and appealing about NCCC is that members from all five of our campuses (Sacramento, CA; Denver, CO; Perry Point, MD; Vinton, IA; and Vicksburg, MS) are trained to immediately respond to our nation’s most urgent needs. Moreover, the residential and full-time nature of the service corps program is ideal not only for disaster response, relief and recovery, but also in our other areas of focus— education, environment, public safety and unmet human needs.
In my last blog post, I mentioned that in 1996, I didn’t have the benefit of the internet to learn about service opportunities. Thus, upon my return home from the Peace Corps, I went to work at a non-profit instead of considering another service opportunity. However, if I’d had the benefit of the internet or had even heard of AmeriCorps, I am pretty sure I would have joined AmeriCorps NCCC. (Okay, I would have been a Team Leader, but I would have joined NCCC, nonetheless.)
• For the same reason Tiffany cited…a broad range of service projects. I like the idea of performing one type of service, then changing and doing something completely different. NCCC projects usually last six to eight weeks.
• Travel – It’s a chance to see America, even if it is from the seat of 15-passenger van, with 10-12 of my “closest” friends…uh…teammates, is worth the trip.
• No expenses – Free food! Free room and board! Free clothes and steel toe boots! (The shirts are grey, but the pants are pretty cool).
• Stipend – You receive approximately $400 a month, before taxes, to save, pay off debts, travel, or simply spend and later regret that you didn’t save anything during your service year.
• Limited health benefits – They cover just about everything that happens to you during your term of service. It’s not medical insurance; it’s a health plan. It does not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions and not all medications are covered. Whew!
• Student loan forbearance – Thanks to my parents I didn’t have student loans, but this would have come in handy if I’d had them.
• The $4725 Education Award – This would have really helped to offset the cost of that year of grad school.
• Leave your mark – Just as Shawna was proud of her disaster relief experience, I am certain that I would have made a profound impact tutoring kids, building a state park trail, or simply helping someone complete their taxes.
• Set yourself apart – Service in NCCC, or any national service program, is looked favorably upon by employers and colleges admissions officers. I’m sure this experience would have looked great on my resume.
NCCC is currently accepting Corps Member and Team Leader applications for its Fall 2009 and Winter 2010 classes. The Fall application deadline date for Corps Member and Team Leader applications is April 1, 2009. The Winter application deadline dates for Corps Members and Team Leaders are July 1 and August 1, respectively.
I highly recommend this program and ask that if you know an 18-24 year old who is team-oriented and not afraid to get moving, get dirty, and have a little fun, encourage them visit our website, and apply today.
Also check out the Idealist podcast featuring me answering questions about NCCC.
In the coming weeks, The New Service blog will bring you details about a variety of programs that are currently recruiting. To find more program introductions, also check out the “Service Corps Programs” category in the pull down menu in the left-hand sidebar of this blog.
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After reading this post, I feel NCCC really offer young adults a chance to give back to their country without derailing their plans for their future. I like that it provides variety to a culture that is constantly looking for the next thing.