Americorps: Six years of waste and fraud
So this dude wrote an essay about how AmeriCorps has been a huge waste of time / money / resources / effort.
I volunteered with AmeriCorps*NCCC, the national volunteer AmeriCorps program. I hate to call the program elite, because volunteering is volunteering, but it’s the national program, and only so many people can do it each year. It’s a 10 month program, during which you log 1,700 hours. Basically, it’s full time work, if not more. Some of the examples the author states in this essay were unsurprising. Part of the difficulty of AmeriCorps is that any nonprofit can request a team. That’s a lot of different groups with different types of work. Then there’s scheduling – ‘spikes’, or off-campus projects (the majority), are usually several months long – so it’s difficult to line up projects that don’t require timing due to weather, immediate need, building schedules, etc. My first ‘spike’ was fixing horse trails in Ohio. These horse trails were going to be completely redone in a year. It was November, it was deer hunting season, and it was rainy. None of us understood why we had to do it, but we did. I guess it’s kind of like the ‘don’t think – just do’ mindset of someone in the military.
So as I read this essay, I realized that there are a lot of flaws with the program that are easily pointed out. The sum of these flaws doesn’t come close to the good that we did.
Not that I saved any lives – oh wait, I did save a turtle during a forest fire, and that’s no shit – but we did spend some quality time with kids who could really use some attention and encouragement. We did clean up after a tornado. We did build Habitat for Humanity homes. None of these things are particularly detrimental. One of the examples is volunteers ‘busying’ themselves with organizing neighborhood parties. My team organized a kids’ day in Congress Park – one of the worst neighborhoods in Anacostia, DC, and the nation. We got donations for a sweet moon bounce, games, face paint, double dutch ropes, and snacks. We brought the community together and hung out, which made tutoring those kids a lot easier later, and we didn’t get suspicious looks when we walked our buds home. We were the only white people there, and it was important.
So that’s my rebuttal to this schmuck’s argument. And then I will punch him in the neck with this:
Any asshole can poke holes in a volunteer program. The point is that a bunch of kids gave up a year of college, or that first crucial year out of college, or a year that might have otherwise landed them in jail. All these kids went to the same place, learned to fucking get along, learned a work ethic, and left much much stronger than when they came.
I’m over being angry. The post is from October of 200, almost exactly a year before I began the program. Still. You have no idea how much that year did for me.