American Stories: Giving back to your community

Over this holiday week, many Americans have taken the time to reflect upon the role of service in their communities.

One theme runs throughout the stories and suggestions that were submitted: folks are fired up to take part in President-elect Obama's plans to increase and improve service opportunities across the country.

Kari from California wrote in to tell us about her service to education. She said:

"I've been serving my community as a high school teacher and director of a program for low-income, first-generation college-going high school students for seven years now. I believe in Barack Obama's mission of hope and change and a better country."

President-elect Obama has repeatedly said that his Administration will call on all Americans to serve others. Joan from Ohio wrote in to say that she is "thrilled to have our government ask me to do something." She said:

"At the most basic level, I think the world cannot evolve without individuals shouldering responsibility for change -- preferably united under strong leadership from government.

I'm a former human resources manager and communications consultant. I have volunteered tutoring in schools. I have worked on rebuilding projects in New Orleans. I have been a case worker and volunteer coordinator with the Red Cross. And I have worked with VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) doing tax returns for low income and elderly folks. In other words: I'm not entirely picky about my service jobs."

Several seasoned volunteers offered stories from their own experience that included valuable advice for others interested in service. Suzannah from North Carolina wrote:

"I have spent over 30 years in human services and volunteered many hours in various projects. I think that there should be inter-agency collaboratives with a shared vision -- that there should be a search for best practices in volunteerism and a gold standard set. There should be ongoing assessment, and non-profit administrators should be given increased salaries, as should teachers. Examples of inter-agency collaboration could include, for instance: early intervention, family support, parenting classes, job training and housing."

Your stories of service help remind others of the big role ordinary Americans must play in creating the change we need for our country. Keep sending us stories about your service experiences here.

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