By Shayla Thiel Stern
New Year’s resolutions often hinge on self-improvement – read more books, eat more vegetables, learn a new skill, meet more friends. These are all great ideas, but what if you replaced this seasonal urge for self-improvement with resolve to help others in 2019?
At ServeMinnesota, we help partners and nonprofit organizations like Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Minnesota GreenCorps, Reading Corps, Math Corps, College Possible, Conservation Corps, Law Enforcement Career Path Academy, Minnesota Opioid Response Corps, Opportunity Corps and others serve their communities with the power of AmeriCorps. Through this work, we’ve learned first-hand that self-improvement and community improvement actually go hand in hand.
Here are five reasons why you should consider ditching that diet plan and instead make a resolution to serve as an AmeriCorps member – whether part-time or full-time, for the summer or the entire next year:
1. Helping others helps your physical and mental health. A research study published in the Journal of Health and Aging found that older adults who volunteered were less likely to have high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Engaging in service to others might even help you live longer. Another study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior reported that service to community increased happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and helped fight against depression.
2. You can develop new skills in your service – and use them to get a job in the future. Are you interested in a career in environmental sciences or wildlife conservation? GreenCorps and Conservation Corps offer fantastic service options. Wish to get experience working with young people? Many of our programs offer opportunities in educational settings, from preschool through college. Plus, main of our programs offer certifications and training that you would typically have to pay for but are free to members. For example, Opportunity Corps offers Global Career Development Facilitator training as well as other leadership training opportunities; Recovery Corps members receive Minnesota Recovery Connection’s Recovery Coach Academy Training, a 46-hour training course that includes motivational interviewing, ethics, recovery advocacy and cultural competency.
Hoping to make the switch from the private sector to the nonprofit world? Serving as an AmeriCorps member at a nonprofit might give you a leg up. Thinking about law school or grad school? AmeriCorps service on your resume shows your breadth and depth as a human being, and it allows you to say something truly meaningful in your entrance essay or statement of purpose.
3. You will meet people. Sure, you can make friends through service, but you’ll also make networking connections. Are you new to the state and looking for a way to meet new people? Or might you just need an excuse to better explore your community? AmeriCorps service happens in a variety of settings with a variety of members, staffers, partners and people from the communities that are served. You might meet people who think and act mostly like you do, but you might also get outside your comfort zone and meet people you would have never discovered if you hadn’t stepped up to serve. That can be a wonderful thing.
4. Learn something new (for free or at a discount). Service in AmeriCorps provides you with an educational award. This award can be used to help you tackle other New Year’s resolutions, too: Take a class to learn a new skill, pay for a study-abroad experience or buy textbooks and supplies. You could also pay down a student loan — also a worthy new year’s resolution. (Learn more about the education award on the website for the Corporation for National and Community Service.)
5. You will keep this resolution. Unlike your newfound commitment to daily 5 a.m. spin class, you won’t quit this resolution after four days because service in AmeriCorps makes you accountable. Breaking your typical resolution is no big deal; after all, there’s always next year. But if you don’t show up for service, it truly affects the people around you. And just imagine the impact you will make in 2019. Once you commit to serving in AmeriCorps in Minnesota and realize the difference you can make, you won’t want to break your resolution.
Would you like to resolve to serve others in 2019? Learn more.