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We are the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. Working hand in hand with local partners, we tap the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the American people to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.

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From Our Blog

Mike Sullivan wasn’t sure what to expect when he emerged from his basement on May 22, 2011. Underground, all he and his two roommates could do was listen and wonder if the noises that they were hearing were really of a tornado. Above ground, a neighbor explained he had only heard “that noise” once before – during the deadly 1966 tornado in Topeka, Kansas.

As a Kansas native born 30 years after that tornado, Mike was new to “that noise.” He moved to Joplin in 2007 as a Missouri Southern State University student because of their famous Drumline team, but had since become part of this tight-knit community. Now, they marched through their neighborhood unsure exactly where they were. Street signs, landmarks – all gone, removing anything familiar from their view.

What would become familiar in the weeks and months and years to follow was the St. Bernard Project (SBP). Shortly after the storm, Rebuild Joplin opened its doors, staffed by AmeriCorps members serving with SBP. “The amazing work that they did in my community was incredible,” Mike said. But it would be two hears before he had a personal interaction with them.

In 2013, he met Theo Holtwick, an AmeriCorps member serving with SBP. At this point, Mike was working at a local bike shop in Joplin and Theo was organizing an 821 mile bike ride from Joplin to New Orleans (and gave it the amazing nickname – the JOMONOLA bike ride). Mike would provide mechanical support for the ride – a fundraiser for those displaced by the Joplin tornado – and get his first taste for SBP and AmeriCorps. He would later reflect that serving as an AmeriCorps member himself was “inevitable,” but at the time, it was hard for him to understand why this outsider had come to his community to help his neighbors. On top of that, he was impressed by how humble and nonchalant he was about the whole thing. 

May 26, 2016

Mike Sullivan wasn’t sure what to expect when he emerged from his basement on May 22, 2011. Underground, all he and his two roommates could do was listen and wonder if the noises that they were...

By Agnes Chavez

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I am in my second year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, with a mission to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. We make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. I am also part of a growing demographic of ‘older adults’ serving within AmeriCorps VISTA. Add to the mix that I am also an artist contributing a unique skill set that is not normally associated with AmeriCorps VISTA service and you might be asking, so how is that working out?

Why the Arts?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018 New Mexico will need to fill 53,000 STEM-related jobs. To address this, STEM to STEAM is an initiative to add art and design to the agenda of STEM education and research in America. A recent rewrite of the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) legislation will now integrate the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). According to the latest research, for students to be prepared and job ready in the new economy, creativity and innovation are just as essential as reading and math.

How I got involved

May 26, 2016

By Tom Ferraro

Tom Ferraro, an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving in Maryland

DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. – Starting to feel old and bored, I needed a new adventure. So at 67, I enlisted in the “war on poverty” by joining AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), whose ranks are dominated by recent college graduates.

I graduated from college in the 1970s, long before laptops, iPhones or the formalization of “a gap year” for young adults to find themselves. After a 45-year career as a news reporter, I suddenly found myself retired. I played tennis three times a week, went to senior-discounted movies and took daily walks with my dog, Milo.

Wanting a more rewarding activity, and figuring it was time to give back, I remembered VISTA, the “domestic Peace Corps,” created a half century ago by President Lyndon Johnson as part of his “War on Poverty.”

I applied, was accepted, and went to a week of training. On the final day, I stood with my young classmates, raised my right hand and was sworn in.

I got assigned to do my year of service at Building Families for Children, a century-old nonprofit headquartered in Columbia, Md., and dedicated to giving at risk-children and parents a fresh start.

From the first week, I’ve been asked, “How do you like your job?” It’s a difficult question to answer.

May 24, 2016

By: Amy Busch

Today the Wyoming State Museum hosted a Senior Corps Week proclamation signing event by Governor Matt Mead. More than 40 Senior Corps volunteers gathered on behalf of Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP Volunteers across Wyoming for this special Senior Corps Week event! Governor Mead heard from volunteers from all three programs sharing their stories of service. #SeniorCorpsWorks #IamSeniorCorps!!

May 20, 2016

By: Bill Basl

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It is still difficult to comprehend the destruction left behind five years ago when an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., and killed 161 people while decimating a quarter of the town. But despite these unimaginable losses, Joplin’s story today is about its recovery and the thousands of volunteers whose service supported it every step of the way.

Severe weather events test the character of communities, and the resilience of Joplin was certainly tested. Thankfully, at its lowest point, the city was reminded of Americans’ giving spirit – the “better angels of our nature” which unite us when tragedy strikes.

Service is part of the fabric of the American story, and we can see the benefits in Joplin as wave after wave of support streamed across the nation to volunteer in the Missouri town in the storm’s aftermath.

National Service Responds

Within eight hours of the tornado’s touch down, a team of national service members from AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team were making their way to the city.

This was the first wave of 425 AmeriCorps members who would come to Joplin and become a pillar of the recovery process. They provided immediate assistance by establishing missing persons centers, removing debris, repairing homes, and managing donations.

Our AmeriCorps members also coordinated with the Missouri Community Service Commission to manage the thousands of volunteers from a cross-section of America – students, church groups, retirees, and others – who needed guidance on how they could help.

May 20, 2016

From Our CEO | Wendy Spencer

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