Celebrating one million AmeriCorps members.


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Congratulations to more than ONE MILLION AmeriCorps members! In case you missed the big event on October 7, you can watch the entire ceremony from start to finish right here! Listen to the stories from current AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps alumni and watch the very first AmeriCorps pledge FROM SPACE!

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The Countdown Begins...One of One Million.

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The following individuals are either serving or have served in AmeriCorps programs across the country. On October 7, they shared their inspirational stories and what it means to each of them to be #1of1million. And now you can read them too. Warning: Some may bring you to tears (you've been warned).
Pamela Cassell
Pamela Cassell

Pamela Cassell - Remarks: "Good morning ladies and gentleman. My name is Pamela Cassell. I am an AmeriCorps member serving in Teach for America in Memphis, Tennessee. I believe a quality education is not only for the most privileged in our society but rather a right for all which is why if left my job with Deloitte as an auditor to become a teacher.

As a child of conflict, I endured many setbacks in my education.  Liberia’s 14-year civil war left me without any formal education for more than a year.  After immigrating to the United States, I was blessed to have teachers that cared enough about my learning to make it a priority. Their selfless efforts enabled me to succeed.

Today, I help provide a quality education for students just like myself.  Although, my students may not be in a civil war in a developing country, they are still fighting to survive a different kind of war in their urban communities.  I am Pamela Cassell. I am an AmeriCorps member, a proud American, and I am one of one million."

Cory Frontin
Cory Frontin

Cory Frontin - Remarks: "Hi I am Cory Frontin an AmeriCorps alum with Habitat for Humanity. I am also a graduate student and lucky enough to have NASA support my research.

I joined AmeriCorps because without the support in life, no one would be able to do much of anything.

When I was a kid, my parents both worked full-time.

My grandparents helped to take care of me and my sister so that my parents could work.

The public schools that I would have gone to were notoriously underfunded, so my parents decided to make sacrifices to send my sister and I to private schools.

Dozens of teachers helped me to learn, sports coaches taught me to persevere, employers made sure I learned responsibility, and band and art instructors taught me that before anything beautiful can be made, a lot of hard work must be done.

Without all of them, I wouldn't have been able to go to college.

I joined AmeriCorps because others helped me and I wanted to do the same.  

I am Cory Frontin and I am one of one million."

Patrick Heaney
Patrick Heaney

Patrick Heaney - Remarks: "Good morning, my name is Patrick Heaney and it is a great privilege for me to be here today with you to celebrate the accomplishments of AmeriCorps members of the past and imagine the tremendous potential of the next million members.

I served as a sixth grade math teacher with Teach for America at LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, NJ, where I had the honor of teaching and learning from amazing young people and their families.

My experience with AmeriCorps reinvigorated my believe that we need to do more to ensure that every child in America receives a high quality education.  And, working alongside inspirational children, families, community members and dedicated educators provided me hope that that challenge is not insurmountable.

But, that responsibility falls on all our shoulders.  That is why after my AmeriCorps service with TFA, I taught while also serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. Currently, I am a graduate student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and, like Cory, the recipient of a NASA Education Fellowship to conduct research at NASA Langley over the next two years.

I am Patrick Heaney….and I am one of one million."

Katie Le Lacheur
Katie Le Lacheur

Katie Le Lacheur - Remarks: "My name is Katherine Le Lacheur. I am a proud alumna of AmeriCorps NCCC classes III and IV, Southeast Region, Charleston, SC. Upon leaving AmeriCorps NCCC, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves about our experience.

Here’s what I wrote:

I have had the opportunity to serve in a migrant farm community in Florida, our Nation’s Capital, the state of Mississippi, the swamps of Congaree and the historic city of Charleston.

I consider it an honor to be part of such a wonderful program.

I’ll forever be indebted to the people I have met along the way.

I will take all the things I learned and share it in the new communities I will serve.

Today, I still feel passionately about AmeriCorps.

I am privileged now to work for Girl Scouts of Eastern MA, the largest girls serving organization in the state.

I help to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

I am Katherine Le Lacheur, and I am one of one million."

Christina Lee
Christina Lee

Christina Lee - Remarks: "I am Christina Lee. Last year, I served as an AmeriCorps member with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

Now, I serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA for FIRST – a non-profit focused on inspiring students to be leaders in STEM through robotics programming. 

I work with DC schools and organizations to help get more STEM programming into the community.

Serving in AmeriCorps has been an amazing experience. AmeriCorps means making a promise to improve our nation - whether it’s by helping the National Park Service prepare for their Centennial and introducing more people to our national treasures, or expanding access to STEM education to underserved populations in DC. 

AmeriCorps has shown me that in order to tackle today’s problems we must listen to our communities and find a solution together. 

I am Christina Lee, and I am one of one million."

Perry McAlister
Perry McAlister

Perry McAlister - Remarks: "In 2015, I was working a part-time retail job that, while paying the bills, was not exactly the most fulfilling work. One night, while up looking for a volunteer opportunity, I came across an organization called Reading Partners that offers one-on-one literacy instruction to elementary students. I signed up, and was assigned to work with a fourth grader attending school in the neighborhood I grew up in. Within weeks, I was sold. The hours I spent with that young girl provided me more fulfillment than any paid work I have done. When I found out Reading Partners was seeking new Americorps members for the following school year, I applied right then.

Over one year later,  I have since met many more students who have all changed my life in some way. I have learned more about myself through them. I have seen more of my own neighborhood through them, for the school is in the very neighborhood I grew up in and where I continue to live.  I have found my life’s purpose - helping children - through them. My joy is my service to the children of Moravia Park Elementary School. I am one of one million."

Paapa Nyanin
Paapa Nyanin

Paapa Nyanin - Remarks: "My name is Paapa Nyanin and I am an AmeriCorps member serving with City Year.

I have lived in many different countries and learned a lot about the vibrancy of different cultures.

One thing that I have learned is that education is one of the most powerful assets that one can attain.

As a pre-med student at Brown University, I also learned how societal injustices subject lower-income black and brown students to educational disparities.

That is why before applying to medical school, I chose to serve in City Year because it allows me to be both an academic and near peer resource to my students.

Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Every student I encounter has the potential to seize and positively impact the future. I feel fortunate that I contribute to the preparing my students today in hopes of a better tomorrow.

I am Paapa Nyanin and I am one of one million."

Wayne Rucker Image
Wayne Rucker

Wayne Rucker - Remarks: "My name is Wayne Rucker and I served in AmeriCorps with PowerCorpsPHL and Habitat for Humanity.

Coming off of 5 years of prison AmeriCorps was the only interview I sat in that I didn’t fell judged for my 5+ years I spent in prison.

I didn’t have much of a resume but I knew deep down inside of me I can and will be an asset to my community.

Working with AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to communicate the strengths of my character that I couldn’t communicate on paper because I lacked professional work experience to associate my character strengths.

Because of AmeriCorps, I have received opportunities like meeting with Mayor Nutter, being recognized as a leader in my community, and meeting the President.

All these opportunities have led me to my present day focus of Neighborhood and Economic Development which includes providing financial literacy, economic inclusion and homeownership opportunities for families of isolated communities.

I am Wayne Rucker, I am 1 of 1 Million."


Share Your Thanks!
Thanks A Million AmeriCorps
Wendy Stuck / AmeriCorps taught me the value of giving back to my own community. It helped me realize how much I wanted to be a part of change! Thank you!!
Elisabeth Buckley / My AmeriCorps VISTA experience made transformed my dream of having a career in the youth nonprofit sector into a reality. Thank you, AmeriCorps, for giving me the opportunity to serve others!
Senator John Boozman (AR) / I thank all AmeriCorps members for their commitment to serving communities in our country that need help the most.
Amy Schwab / It was a great experience, and am proud to have participated with AmeriCorps!
Sharon Riegsecker / AmeriCorps allowed me to serve veterans, service members and their families in a different way. It opened the door to job offers I never would’ve felt able to pursue otherwise. I’m humbled that I’m able to give back to an organization that gave me so much.
John Pinto / VISTA 1975 I remember my service with great pride. "The toughest job you'll ever love."
Sophie Fiorentino / Thanks a Million AmeriCorps! Still in public service and fighting for justice for millions of underserved!
Shaleata Reed / I am am so honored to have serve a former AmeriCorps member and look forward to volunteer in any community service program that is available in or near my area.
Click to watch a tape of the One Million Member videoClick to watch a tape of the One Million Member video

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In case you missed it, we welcome you to watch the NASA ceremony and the first AmeriCorps pledge from space!



Image of Aaron Bigler Lefebvre
Aaron Bigler Lefebvre
AmeriCorps VISTA

After graduating from Rutgers University in Camden with an MFA in Creative Writing, I began a job search. I had many interviews, yet none yielded an offer. Some, I was unqualified for, while others, I was more than qualified for. On occasion, I was dismissed because I had to disclose my disability. Yes, it’s illegal, but you know what? They gave me the run-around anyway. Why? Because like with many people who experience poverty on one level or another, I didn’t have the resources to do anything about it.

With all of these forces working against me, I began thinking of other options, which ultimately lead to the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania was looking for an AmeriCorps VISTA member to evaluate and redevelop their program delivery model. As both an impoverished individual and an AmeriCorps VISTA member working to reduce the effects of poverty in my community, the AmeriCorps VISTA program is indispensable to those without opportunity who need a chance to show what they’re capable of. Inclusion is a mainstay of the program, and that was made clear to me by my supervisor—an AmeriCorps VISTA alumna—when she offered me an AmeriCorps VISTA role at NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania.

The AmeriCorps VISTA program has energized my confidence and reaffirmed my belief that I can be an independent, self-reliable, self-sustainable, productive member of society. Without the AmeriCorps VISTA program, I may never have found the opportunity I needed to show myself and others that I have the potential for making a difference that can change the community.

View the full story here

Profile picture of Blair Brettschneider
Blair Brettschneider
AmeriCorps VISTA 2010 to 2011

Blair Brettschneider didn’t plan on creating her own nonprofit. But something she imagined had never been done before. So Blair decided to make a change.

That’s when the 25-year-old launched what is now GirlForward, an organization that offers mentorship and educational opportunities for girls who have been uprooted from their war-torn countries. Blair credits her experience with the AmeriCorps VISTA program for exposing her to the plight of refugee youth and their families.

Blair served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member from 2010 to 2011. As part of her responsibilities, she completed fundraising development projects at RefugeeOne, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. 

GirlForward, a once modest enterprise, has now grown to one that has served more than 100 girls. In fact, the organization’s success prompted media giant CNN to name her one of its top 24 CNN Heroes for 2013.

Still, Blair’s newfound celebrity has not fully resonated yet.

“When I see people sitting in the office I think, ‘Wow this is an actual organization,’” Blair said. “I’m really proud of everything that we’ve done and I’m also really thankful for all of the support we’ve received.”

Profile picture of Germain
Germain Castellanos
AmeriCorps 2004 to 2005

Germain Castellanos served in AmeriCorps as a Youth Developer with the Youth Conservation Corps in Waukegan, IL, where he was honored with the title of AmeriCorps Member of the Year in 2005. He has served since 2008 as Program Director for the SHINE Educational Leadership Program, a workforce development program serving over 300 at-risk youth at Waukegan High School—where the student population is more than 70 percent Latino. Germain’s transition from being a recipient of services to a provider of services for at-risk youth earned him the Illinois Governor’s Journey Award in 2008. The son of immigrants from Mexico, Germain also works to create change and opportunity for the residents of his hometown of Waukegan by serving as Vice President of the Habitat for Humanity Lake County Board of Directors; Program Chair and Member of the Board of Directors for Youth Conservation Corps; and as Member of the Lake County Workforce Investment Board’s Youth Council.

Image of Caitlin Clooser
Caitlin Clooser
Rebuilding Together Dayton

AmeriCorps was pivotal in changing the course of Caitlin’s life. When the financial crisis hit, the company she was working for closed and she lost her job. AmeriCorps was there to give Caitlin the opportunity and experience to make a change in the trajectory of her career. She served for a year with Rebuilding Together Dayton, in Dayton, OH, helping to manage volunteers and conduct community and corporate outreach about RTD’s home repair and revitalization programs. From there, Caitlin knew that her life would be dedicated to the service of others.

After her term, Caitlin moved to Chicago and got involved with AmeriCorps Alums Chicago, local and national Rebuilding Together projects, and advocacy for national service. Her experience in these arenas led to her current career at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, where she works as the Senior Manager of Volunteer Project Development, helping to meet the volunteer needs of United Way’s agency partners by developing meaningful service experiences for corporate groups. Caitlin has stayed involved with her national service roots as President of the AmeriCorps Alums Chicago chapter, and continues to be a passionate and vocal advocate for AmeriCorps. 

Image of Zhara Keshwani
Zhara Keshwani
Illinois JusticeCorps

Throughout my first couple weeks of service with Illinois JusticeCorps, I found language barriers to be a huge reason for why people stay in difficult marriages. During my second week, I met this woman who only spoke Urdu. She was forced into a marriage years ago and since then, was continuously abused by her husband. This woman was the first person that I translated for during my year of service.

Unfortunately, she arrived too late in the day to work with one of the attorneys we assist. I instructed her to return the next day in the morning, and we would be able to help her out. When she returned the next morning, she told me about the excessive questioning from her husband about her leaving so early in the morning, how he beat her, and how she just needed out of her marriage. When we got her inside, I helped translate for the attorney, and we helped her fill out all the paperwork and find housing for after she filed her paperwork. I then went with her to the clerks to help file all the documents and go to the Sheriff’s Office to make sure her husband would get served.

I am now in my second term with Illinois JusticeCorps, and, to this day, I can remember in detail everything this woman said to me and the prayers she gave me after we had completed everything she needed done. She emphasized how she had been trying to start this process for over a year, and how without me, she would probably still be trying for another couple years. This woman made me understand the extent to which we are able to assist people. It also made me realize that my fluency in Urdu was an asset, one that I never thought I would use here. It was this experience, this woman, that made me realize this organization’s importance and the importance of my contribution. 

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Rebecca Lange
AmeriCorps NCCC 1995 to 1996

Rebecca Lange is currently the Deputy Legislative Assistant at the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is also a proud alumna of AmeriCorps NCCC's second class. She served at the Central Region campus in Denver, CO, from 1995-1996, and currently serves on the board of the Washington, DC, chapter of AmeriCorps Alums.

She is currently a Major in the U.S. Air Force, and explains her transition from AmeriCorps to the military was a natural one. Four years after her AmeriCorps experience, she graduated from the University of Colorado – thanks in large part to her Segal AmeriCorps Education Award – and was commissioned to the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant.

From building houses with Habitat for Humanity, to building trails with AmeriCorps NCCC, to tours in Iraq and Afghanistan -- Rebecca says, "It's all about service. It's the pride in knowing your country needs you and has trained you to answer its call. And in a small, small way, you know you are giving back to the country that allowed you to grow up in freedom."

Profile Picture of Earl Millet
Earl Millet
AmeriCorps 2000 to 2001

Earl Millet Jr. began his career in service in 2000 when he joined AmeriCorps as a full-time member serving with Volunteer Maryland. He worked to establish a formal volunteer program at Garden Harvest, a Maryland organic farm that donates its produce to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Earl began a second full-time term with Volunteer Maryland in 2001, mentoring 12 new AmeriCorps members and helping them establish volunteer programs at small nonprofit organizations.

He served as an Environment/Forestry Volunteer in Ecuador from 2003-2005 and as a Crisis Corps (now Peace Corps Response) volunteer in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Early in 2006, Earl joined Civic Works as a Volunteer Coordinator, helping others benefit from the opportunities he enjoyed serving in AmeriCorps. Since then, he has worked to develop new programs and acquire new funding, expanding Civic Works’ capacity in volunteers and clients served. Earl currently directs several programs, handling management of supervisors and administration of budgets. He stays involved on a day-to day-basis talking to prospective AmeriCorps members to determine their best fit, and as a resource for all Civic Works members during and after service.

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