In moments of crisis, Americans are eager to step up, pitch in, and find ways to contribute to solutions — service years can help our country heal from the coronavirus pandemic.
If the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is teaching us anything, it’s that we are a far more interconnected and interdependent nation than we are led to believe. Service years at scale can give us a unifying purpose and turn that interconnectedness into action while addressing the biggest challenges facing our country. There has never been a more important moment to make a service year a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans.
Just as Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression — mobilizing millions of unemployed Americans to tend to our public lands and conserve our natural resources — and as George W. Bush expanded AmeriCorps by fifty percent and increased Peace Corps participation following the 9/11 attacks, our country will need a mass mobilization of Americans who are looking to serve our communities and help our country recover in the wake of this pandemic.
Investing in service year opportunities will help communities respond to their immediate needs, support America as we rebuild from this crisis, and lead us to emerge more united and better prepared for future disasters.
“What might a call to service look like during lockdown? Here are a few ideas: telling us that the virus can affect our health but not our resolve; encouraging people to use the Internet to volunteer, perhaps by tutoring or mentoring disadvantaged youths; arranging food deliveries to the elderly or needy; donating to charities; or simply reaching out to others to reduce stress. Medical professionals could be encouraged to join the Medical Reserve Corps and bring surge capacity to testing sites, hospitals and health clinics. The president could urge Congress to expand national service programs and provide emergency wage support to small businesses and nonprofits."
-Service Year Alliance Vice Chair, John Bridgeland and Special Olympics Chairman, Tim Shriver in The Washington Post