The following is a letter to the ServeNext Community from Co-Founder and current board member, Aaron Marquez:
I spent five years working in the civilian service field – two as an AmeriCorps member with City Year and three helping to co-found ServeNext. Following the passage of the Serve America Act two years ago I set off on a new national service journey as an Army Reservist.
This week in The Huffington Post I had the opportunity to reflect on Memorial Day and how civilian service programs can help meet the needs facing our veterans and military families. I’m very proud of the opportunities I have had to serve my country – both in AmeriCorps and through the military. I hope you enjoy reading this excerpt and be sure to check out our new animated video below that illustrates the power of ServeNext’s mission, vision, and impact to expand national service opportunities in America.
“One of the lesser-known parts of the bi-partisan Serve America Act was the creation of a Veterans Corps under AmeriCorps to engage more veterans in service, help put their skills to work to address the needs of local communities, and help them transition back to civilian life. A robust network of Veteran Corps service programs across the country has enormous potential to meet the unique challenges of veterans and military families.” “Despite the vision for a Veterans Corps under the Serve America Act, we have not moved aggressively enough to develop and grow these types of programs. The primary challenge with developing new programs over the last two years has been the uncertainty of AmeriCorps funding. The House of Representatives voted to eliminate funding entirely for the Corporation for National & Community Service in the FY11 budget before constituents from across the country called on their Members of Congress to save service programs. The Corporation for National & Community Service was saved with only a 6 percent cut in FY11, but the same Congress has again proposed its elimination in the FY12 budget.”
Saving national service and AmeriCorps funding is going to be very tough. It’s going to require months of grassroots mobilization, and it’s battle that we will have to fight each year during appropriations. We know it can be done again – but only with your help and many more.
As the campaign gears-up, we need to reach more and get them ready to fight for service.
That’s why we’re debuting a powerful, two-minute animated video. It explains the high-stakes of this moment, what’s at risk, and the grassroots movement we’re building in response – a movement that relies on people all over the country getting involved.
We know a battle is heating-up over the nation’s 2012 budget. Now is the time to prepare, to make sure every person who cares about national service is ready to take action in the weeks and months ahead.
A great first step is to watch our new video that explains the problem and the response we need to save service – a response that’s not possible without you and many others.
Then, help us reach as many people as possible by sharing the video on Facebook.
ServeNext continues to work with the Save Service in America Campaign as the grassroots partner. Plans are coming together and we’ll be sure to share details soon. If you have any ideas about how to mobilize your community and fight for service let us know.
Aaron J. Marquez
Co-Founder and Board Member, ServeNext.org