This is the time of year when all of us give thanks -- for the food on our tables, for the health of our families and for the roof over our heads.
This year, I'm especially grateful for our country's powerful national service programs -- AmeriCorps and Senior Corps -- which tap the energy and talent of our people to go into communities to help solve some of our greatest challenges. Without these 440,000 national service members hard at work, budget-constrained communities might not be able to feed those who are hungry or give children the extra support they need in school to reach their full potential. Together, they are teaching us a powerful lesson: that by serving together, we can accomplish so much more than any of us could by working alone. The AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members I meet across the country bring extraordinary passion, commitment and grace to their work. I am grateful for the chance to work alongside them to urge our nation's leaders to make it possible for more Americans to serve.
This gratitude is echoed across the country by communities who depend on the vital work of national service members.People like Paula Katrina Drago, with Habitat for Humanity in Washington, D.C., who says,
Brandon Bodor of Serve Illinois whose community was just hit by one of the largest tornado outbreaks in eight years says,
I am thankful for my AmeriCorps members because their passion and dedication to others changes lives and inspires me. They surprise and impress me every day.
Bodor and his team are working with local partners to lead the recovery response leveraging 1,200 volunteers and providing emergency supplies and food items to more than 200 families. Out of Camden, New Jersey, Jeffery Brenner, with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers says,
I'm thankful for the entire National Service family, from AmeriCorps to Senior Corps, who have rallied around the tornado response and recovery here in Illinois this month. A heartfelt thank especially to the team from AmeriCorps St. Louis, who is implementing the disaster response coordination skills they acquired at Joplin, MO, at Hurricane Sandy, and at Moore, OK to expertly support the volunteer coordination here in Illinois.
Dustin Speakman with the Ohio Food Banks says,
I'm thankful for our AmeriCorps Members through the Community HealthCorps and the National Association of Community Health Centers because they inspire me with their idealism and commitment to improve the care for the poor in Camden, NJ. I'm thankful because we couldn't do our work without them.
Barb Maronin, with the Western Upper Peninsula RSVP program in Hancock, Michigan says,
I am thankful for my AmeriCorps VISTA members today because of their hard work and dedication to our mission of fighting hunger and poverty in Ohio. With their support, we've been able to leverage over 25,000 volunteers who have served 230,000 hours since 2006 fighting to bring food to those in need.
And Jeanne Brunet, a first grade teacher at McComb Elementary School in Caro, Michigan says,
I'm thankful for my RSVP Volunteers because each day they serve as an example that everyone, no matter age or life experience, can be a positive influence and force in their community by giving the gift of time.
So many children just need someone to spend a little extra time with them. Foster Grandparents are the best at meeting this need.
This year, I hope you will thank a national service member in your community. And I hope we can count on your help in the months ahead to share the stories of the hundreds of thousands of ways national service is transforming lives, communities, and ultimately our nation.