Motivating Volunteers, Making a Difference

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National Service
By: 
Dana Forde

Julie Yorkshire looked for details about AmeriCorps VISTA on a website. Benjamin Weaver learned about AmeriCorps VISTA while scrolling through his Twitter feed. Now Julie and Benjamin use the same tools that lured them to the AmeriCorps VISTA program to recruit other volunteers. They are two AmeriCorps alums who are applying their volunteer mobilization skills to their current professional endeavors.

AmeriCorps VISTA Alum Julie Yorkshire.AmeriCorps is a powerful catalyst and force-multiplier for community volunteering. Last year, AmeriCorps members recruited, trained, and supervised more than 4 million community volunteers for the organizations they serve. Julie and Benjamin served as AmeriCorps VISTA members with Google’s HandsOn Tech program, an initiative designed to match volunteers who have specific technological skillsets with non-profits.

During their tenure as AmeriCorps VISTA members last year, Julie and Benjamin used Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and old-fashioned word of mouth to gather more than 50 AmeriCorps members for a multi-site service project at area non-profits. The project’s success spurred the development of two additional events that collectively rallied more than 300 AmeriCorps volunteers.

Now, Benjamin and Julie are translating their AmeriCorps experience into their careers.

AmeriCorps VISTA Alum Ben Weaver“I like recruiting volunteers, working with them, and letting them know that they are able to give back by using their skills,” said Benjamin, who now works as a community programs and technology coordinator for the volunteerism-focused non-profit Pittsburgh Cares. “Volunteers can take what they’re really good at and find a non-profit that can use their particular talents.”

Earlier this month, Julie planned the first-of-its-kind volunteer service day for foreign-trained lawyers attending the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. Julie’s past experience in the VISTA program gives her a valuable perspective on what service means in American culture, she said.

“My AmeriCorps experience is something I have to offer,” Julie added. “Service is something I know a lot about, and I was able to share that with others.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service is celebrating the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and highlighting methods that have contributed to the program’s success. For more information about the 20th anniversary, please visit the AmeriCorps 20th Anniversary Resource Center.

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