Celebrating service and recognizing champions at the ServeNext Reception and Recognition

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on May 12, 2011

On May 10th, 2011 leaders and supporters of national service came together at Darlington House in Dupont Circle for the ServeNext Reception and Recognition. The purpose of the event was threefold: to celebrate the work of ServeNext, highlight the importance of building the grassroots voice for service, and recognize leaders in Congress who have displayed leadership and support for service in America.

The program started out with a viewing of our new animation video that does a great job of introducing and explaining ServeNext. Zach Maurin, Executive Director of ServeNext welcomed everyone and introduced ServeNext board member and former Director of AmeriCorps Deb Jospin who shared why she strongly believes in and supports the mission of ServeNext. Tom Sheridan followed with a candid overview of the budget situation in Congress for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and a strong plea for the national service community to organize at the local level to share the impact and value of national service with our elected officials. The outcome of funding for national service programs will be decided in districts and states across the country, not in Washington D.C.

The core of ServeNext is our ServeNext Organizers and while they were not able to make it in person, we produced another video that featured some of them making the case for service and advocacy. It is a truly inspiring video and you can watch it for yourself on the ServeNext YouTube Channel.

The second half of the program began with some words of support from two White House staff members: Ashley Baia from the Office of Public Engagement and Divya Kumaraiah from the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. Thank you to the White House for adding your support.

Zach then kicked off the congressional honors presentation. Understandably, every honoree wasn’t able to make it but we were excited to be joined by Jacob Parker, Legislative Director for Congressman Tom Latham who accepted the ServeNext Friend of Service Award on behalf of Rep. Latham. In addition, Chris Campbell, senior staff member of Senator Orrin Hatch, joined us to accept the ServeNext Distinguished Service Award on behalf of Senator Hatch.

The highlight of the evening was the Next Generation Leadership Award presentation. Darrell Dupuy, a City Year D.C. Corps member and New Orleans native, told his story of how he was inspired to serve after he and his family were recipients of service after Hurricane Katrina. He explained how big a role national service programs are playing in the rebuilding of New Orleans and was excited to present the ServeNext Next Generation Leadership Award to his Congressman Cedric Richmond.

Congressman Cedric Richmond had just returned from a week-long Congressional Delegation trip to the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Afghanistan and had a late round of votes on Capitol Hill that evening but still found the time to accept his award in person and share with our guest why he is such a strong supporter of service. That spoke volumes to me about his priorities and dedication to national service as a critical strategy for addressing many of America’s most pressing problems. While the service movement has recently lost some great champions, like Senator Ted Kennedy, I am comforted in knowing there are leaders in Congress like Congressman Cedric Richmond who are picking up the torch and continuing to fight for expanding opportunities to serve.

The event was a tremendous success and we want to thank everyone who was able to attend and show their support for national service and ServeNext. Now we must come together again to get ready for the budget battle of 2012 and work to save funding for AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the entire Corporation for National and Community Service.


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