In this unprecedented time, I find myself reflecting on the role of public service in helping our nation through tough times and what that history teaches us about how we should respond to this crisis.
ServeMinnesota exists to help solve unsolved problems. We are designed to quickly use our resources to help with critical needs. As Minnesota shuts down, our members are stepping up to help schools with distance learning initiatives and to prepare and distribute lunches for families who might not have enough food at home. They are delivering meals to older adults. They are caring for the children of health workers. They are helping people apply for SNAP food benefits, and more.
However, we know we have a huge responsibility to rapidly align our resources with challenges that will be with us for some time — an over-burdened health care system, food insecurity for children and families, and an education system likely to not be business as usual for some time, to name just a few.
We also feel hopeful that we might be part of creating a new future for folks who need to find a different role after losing a job. We believe that service is one way to extend a lifeline to a new future. In this time of heartbreaking loss, we want AmeriCorps service to provide people who need it with a living stipend, health insurance, career counseling, loan forbearance, and an education award; at the same time, they will in turn be improving the lives of others and strengthening communities. This combination – serving to receive help while helping others – can play a role in helping our state rebuild. Like the earliest public service created during the Great Depression in the 1930s, service can be a bridge to a new reality.
Do you wonder how you can help right now? Read this blog post on volunteer opportunities, which will be updated regularly, and look for future stories about how AmeriCorps members in Minnesota are pivoting to serve their communities in new ways during the crisis.
Thank you for your ongoing support, stay safe and healthy, and please let us know if you have any questions.
Audrey Suker, CEO of ServeMinnesota
UPDATE: ServeMinnesota and its partners have launched the Minnesota AmeriCorps Emergency Response Initiative that will help nonprofits, agencies and school districts respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Apply here to serve as an AmeriCorps member on the team.