This AmeriCorps sponsored program ServiceWorks is also supported by the Citi Foundation and Points of Light. The program seeks to harness the power of volunteers to reach 25,000 low-income youth and young adults to help them make smarter choices about their careers and education. It operates in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
The AmeriCorps’ VISTA program was introduced by President Kennedy in 1963 and has helped to form many of the most successful anti-poverty initiatives in the U.S. The Head Start program and banking system of Credit Unions were both initiatives that found success in part with the help of VISTA members.
VISTA is a long-term service opportunity. To make that possible, members receive a living allowance, which counts as income. Depending on the program you volunteer in and at your supervisor’s discretion, you may be able to work part time during your service period as well. The program provides life and health insurance to volunteers as well as childcare assistance for those with children under 13 years old. Relocation and travel assistance is given to those who must travel more than 50 miles to relocate for their assigned project.
You may also opt for an end of service stipend of $125 per month of service, up to $1,500 to help you get back into your normal work life after your service ends, but this stipend is only for those who have served 12 months, or compelling personal circumstances force you to end your service early. Those who serve beyond 12 months will receive an additional stipend of $125 per month, unless they choose to receive The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
Taking a year off your life to volunteer is a major commitment, but one that carries with it a great sense of accomplishment. VISTA members may enjoy college loans and deferment for their year of service and some VISTA training courses may count towards college credit. In addition, those who complete one year of service receive Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) status for federal jobs. If you are hired into a federal job, your year of service counts towards a federal pension. All of these are excellent financial benefits you earn from your service, but it’s what you give back that means the most. You’ll be helping underprivileged communities gain financial independence.
However you decide to serve on Patriot Day, your volunteerism adds value to the lives of those around you. Use these opportunities to make a real difference in America. If you know of any events going on in your city or region, please comment below. We will add them to this post.