January is National Mentoring Month

It’s January! And though we’re in the midst of a nasty, dreadful winter, it feels a lot like spring…well, if you don’t consider the weather.  January, like March, is a time of rebirth and new beginnings. In the spring, nature beckons and we follow her lead.  In the winter, we don’t have the benefit of nature leading the way so we have to be self-motivated.

Fittingly, January, the first month of the year, is when we make commitments, mostly to ourselves, to be better, improve, to do or not to do.  Ultimately, we “resolve” to be our best selves and our resolutions, when implemented, lead the way. And, if we’re committed, come spring, we’re in full bloom.

January is also National Mentoring Month.  It’s the time of year when Harvard, Mentor and the Corporation for National and Community Service join forces to shine a spotlight on the need for mentors in the lives of America’s youth.

In this new era of service, when Americans are being asked to give of themselves to help make America better, resolving to Continue reading

The British Council Creates Global Connections and Impact Through Dialogue and Service

Professor Mike Hardy

Professor Mike Hardy, Photo by Kate Anderson

Amy Potthast first wrote about the British Council’s event and because I live in the nation’s capital, where the event was held, I had the good fortune of attending.

Admittedly, I was still reeling from Michelle Obama’s visit to CNCS — so the British Council event was yet another highlight on my calendar which made that week unforgettable, to say the least.

An impressive crowd gathered—approximately 50 attendants—at the Rayburn House Office Building for what was absolutely a lovely affair.  Lovely is not a word I usually use to describe a professional engagement, but I think this word comes to mind because of my British, or as I say, Bree-teesh, bias. Yes, I’m a sap for their accents and covet their seemingly inborn urbane manner.

Prior to the event, I was only loosely familiar with the work of the British Council—the United Kingdom’s international Continue reading

Michelle Obama Visits the Corporation for National Service-Through My Lens

Michelle Obama speaking last week

Michelle Obama speaking last week Photo by Katrina Mathis

A first-hand account of encountering the First Lady.

“I shook her hand.” I can’t recall the number of times I uttered or texted those words exactly a week ago today. “I…SHOOK…HER…HAND!”  “I shook Michelle Obama’s hand.”  I am still elated. But that’s how the event ended.  Let’s start from the beginning.

I arrived early to ensure a good seat.  It was a closed affair, just for us—Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) employees, but that wasn’t going to guarantee prime seating, so I made my way to the venue, down 13th street as fast as my wedges would allow.

I was excited about the First Lady’s visit, but was a little anxious because I wasn’t as familiar with my camera as I would have liked. Buying a Nikon D-40 had been on my To-Do list for a while and news of the First Lady’s visit made it a-night-before-the-big-event purchase. Thus, I had less than 24 hours to learn to use it. Yikes!

I scored a great seat: second row center. It was like being in the orchestra section at the Kennedy Center, sans the price of admission. As more CNCS Continue reading

The Serve America Act—Speak Up About It!

The Corporation for National and Community Service will host conference calls beginning tomorrow to get input about Picture 3the implementation of the Serve America Act.

The new era of service and volunteering officially begins October 1, when the Serve America Act goes into effect. As that date approaches, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS), the agency charged in the act with both expanding existing programs and creating several new programs and initiatives to increase service opportunities and strengthen our civic infrastructure, will host a series of (6) public forums to get input from the public about how to Continue reading

Seeking Opportunities to Be the Minority, to Connect, and to Serve

halitll - flickr creative commonsA community of service-minded people gather to celebrate the Passover Seder.

Last week I attended a Passover Seder at a friend’s house. Nineteen of us gathered together at not one, but two, tables and took turns reading passages and singing songs from the Haggadah, then devouring the many dishes before us with extra helpings of gefilte fish and matzah crackers topped with horseradish for me. Yummers!

Before we sat down for dinner, the evening began as large evening gatherings usually do—with the requisite mixing and mingling—“What’s your name?” “How do you know the host?” “What do you do?”

As much as I wanted to, I wasn’t able to talk to each and every guest. But that wasn’t a grave issue because I’d already met a few of them at the Hanukkah celebration last year.

During dinner, the man sitting to my right asked me, “Are you familiar with Youth Service America? I used to work for them.” Continue reading

Webchats to Help Prepare for AmeriCorps Week 2009

AmeriCorps Week LogoAmeriCorps Week organizers invite the AmeriCorps community to participate in a series of webinars to answer your questions and give you the tools to make AmeriCorps Week 2009 successful.

Participation is free, but you must register separately for each conversation and download the WebEx application (for free) in order to participate.

Each with its own theme, five “web chats” — conference calls that also involve following an online presentation —  will take place at the following dates and times.

Continue reading

Your Service Networks Really Can Help with Your Career Transition

A story about how networking during Peace Corps reaped rewards after my service term ended.

I’d been back in Atlanta for six months, living off of my $5,075 Peace Corps readjustment allowance—at my parent’s house, of course—and also the pocket change I made working at an amphitheatre during the 1996 Olympics, and a very unpleasant week as a temp (who knew you needed office skills to work in an office?), before I scored my first job interview. It was for a Program Assistant position at an education non-profit in Atlanta.

I had never worked for a non-profit before and I would never have looked in that direction had it not been for connections I’d made while in Guinea.

I’d met Charles soon after arriving in Guinea two years earlier. He worked for USAID and lived in Conakry, Guinea’s capital city. A former Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), he understood the travails of volunteer life, so he let PCVs house sit whenever his work took him elsewhere.

For two years, I’d lived in a small village roughly seven hours north of Conakry. Although my house was only 15 kilometers off the main road, it took an hour — via bush taxi or on my Trek mountain bike (that road was so bad, the mode of transportation Continue reading