We find ourselves in trying times both here and abroad, and it is very easy to let these times split us into factions, but there is another way. After his travels, Alexis de Tocqueville said this of Americans, “…they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.” Nearly 200 years later, there still is no greater power than Americans banded together.
No matter our background, class, or politics, service brings us together. Giving back to our community lifts us all up, and it shows us that we are not as different as we thought. That is why America needs service. We need to double down on the idea that we can make our world better by ending the isolation and uniting together to “become a power seen from afar.”
I hope you gain strength from the stories of service in this newsletter, and more importantly, I hope you join with us as we Serve Illinois!
Yours in Service,
Welcome to our new Commission Chair, Jeff Turnbull
I am honored to introduce myself as the new Chairman for the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. I am humbled to follow Fred Nettles, who is our out-going president and who has given his time and talents helping to shape the Serve Illinois Commission into a national leader in enhancing volunteerism and instilling the ethic of service throughout Illinois. Fred’s leadership and accomplishments will be missed by the Commission as he continues to serve our state through his work with the Illinois Department of Human Services.
I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention the outstanding staff we have working for the Serve Illinois Commission, promoting and supporting volunteerism and community service through programs such as AmeriCorps; working with the Corporation for National and Community Service on national, state, and local days of service; and overseeing the development of our State Service Plan and Strategic Plan for volunteerism. Working with over 65 organizations hoping to provide volunteers to local non-profits through programs like AmeriCorps, Commission staff provide training, technical assistance, oversight, and support to literally thousands of volunteers in this state.
Finally, I want to give a huge and well deserved thank you to all those who volunteer in our state by helping individuals in need, assisting non-profit agencies meet their missions in these challenging times, and who support our schools, parks, hospitals, and all the organizations that serve to make our state a better place. Through your efforts, all of our futures are made brighter.
Yours In Service,
Why Volunteer Recognition Matters
Last year, Serve Illinois had the privilege of once again honoring volunteers across the state with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award. Each year, thirty volunteers ranging from youth to senior, to business and AmeriCorps/SeniorCorps members are honored at the annual ceremony that has taken place at the Old state Capitol the last few years.
Recently an e-mail was sent to us, sharing a surprise that one of our recipients received in her hometown of Flora. Esther Walker was very pleased to discover that a sign had been erected honoring her award acceptance as a Governor's Volunteer awardee.
Esther has made volunteering such a large part of her life that she probably hadn't imagined such recognition would occur!
Volunteer recognition plays a huge part in retaining and recruiting volunteers. Many do not volunteer to seek recognition, but when they do it can make their day! For some, like Esther, it may even make their year!
AmeriCorps Week 2017
During the week of March 4-11, individuals, programs, and organizations will honor and celebrate the contributions that 80,000 Americans make to their communities and the service of more than 1 million AmeriCorps alumni.
by the Numbers
1,606 AmeriCorps Volunteers
371 Service Sites in 49 Counties
38,505 Veterans and Military Service Family Members Served
38,942 Disadvantaged Youth Served
1,884,994 Volunteer Hours
$47,765,748 in Service Impact
37,000 Illinoisans Served in AmeriCorps
52,000,000 Hours Served
$122,390,000 Earned for College
$1,317,680,000 in Service Impact
AmeriCorps Week is a time to salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps community partners, and communicate AmeriCorps impact on communities and on the lives of those who serve. Learn more here!
MLK Day 2017
A day on, not a day off!
Each year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is commemorated nationwide with a day of service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." The idea behind this particular date is really to be inspired from Dr. King’s teachings and transition this into a day of action in communities with projects that help solve social problems. The day of service can include anything that honors these thoughts.
In Illinois on MLK Day, there were likely hundreds of events on this day that embodies this spirit, reaching thousands of citizens. Projects such as collecting donated items to be delivered to those in need to include homeless shelters, a first responder appreciation drive, supervising and helping students with MLK Day presentations, clean up of forest preserves, and transforming conditions in schools. In East St. Louis, participants in MLK Day were blessed to be in the company of an American Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who inspires the region in such meaningful ways. Elsewhere, two AmeriCorps members presented a workshop at one of the shelters on interviewing skills and dress for success. One of the woman expressed her gratitude with the information and resources shared because she actually was preparing for an interview two days later. She said it was perfect timing.
“The days was so much fun. I was at the "What is your Dream?" wall and the little kids had such honest and funny responses. One little boy said his dream was to be a horse and another little boy wrote "to be nise to Nia." And when I asked him who was Nia he said it was his sister. Both boys were 5 years old.”
“I delivered to what I presume was a single mom in a town 20 minutes outside of Macomb. Over the phone, when arranging to deliver, she apologized for missing my original call and said she had been dealing with some challenging life issues lately. I was alone, so it took me a few trips to carry all of the boxes into her apartment. Each time she was surprised, and very grateful that I would be returning with more. While there I met her young girl (2) and boy (10). As the organizer of the event the families had simply been names on paper to this point. Seeing this family, and meeting them, added a much deeper sense of fulfillment within myself to be helping others”
A New Year, New Faces
We are continuing our volunteer of the week recognition in 2017. Our first month focused on National Mentoring Month, where we recognized a mentor each week. In addition, we hope to place the spotlight on a non-profit each month, learn more about both below.
Volunteer recognition is an important aspect to retaining volunteers, and showing them appreciation. Serve Illinois offers statewide recognition. The process is quick and simple, and can make the day of a any volunteer!
Send us a picture and two or more paragraphs to get your volunteer in the queue!
To make a submission for Volunteer of the Week simply click on the button below!
I can’t tell you how pleased that I am to be afforded the opportunity to join the Serve Illinois staff just a short time ago as the new Volunteer Programs Manager. Over the bulk of my 17 year career in state government, I have had the pleasure of working with the Serve Illinois Commission both directly and indirectly as part of my capacity in statewide disaster preparedness and response volunteerism efforts. I never thought during all of the times I would present at volunteerism conferences or Commission meetings that I would have the fortuity to be on the staff later in my career. Now that it’s my job full time to work on volunteerism efforts, I can honestly say that it doesn’t feel like a job at all. Yes, there of course is the fun paperwork that comes along with every job that people don’t like to do, but when you believe so much in what you are doing, it’s not a job. It’s a commitment to bettering yourself and others. What the Commission does really showcases the good work of others, and promotes us as citizens of Illinois to committing ourselves to making our communities and state as a better place to live. It’s truly an honor to serve the citizens of Illinois in this capacity. The best part about all of this is that I’ve joined a great staff full of likeminded people and hopefully my addition can just be a force multiplier. I’m looking forward to assessing and revitalizing important volunteerism efforts of the Commission, as well as hearing from all interested parties as to how we as staff to the Commission can provide services that are needed in this area. We already have some great plans for 2017, but we can always do more. One of my favorite quotes is “to receive much, we must give much” and nothing could be more true in the volunteerism community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me to discuss your ideas at (217) 524-2251 email@example.com.
“On behalf of the Serve Illinois Commission staff, I thank Fred for his dedication and service to the citizens of Illinois through his efforts as both a member and chairman of the Commission. His vision for a state where community service is a priority has lead the Commission over the last 3 years, and will continue to shape the Commission’s mission and vision well into the future. While we are sad that Fred will no longer serve as a Commissioner, we are grateful that his efforts will continue in both his position at the Illinois Department of Human Services as well as through his own volunteerism efforts. We know that Fred will continue to be a shining example of volunteerism in his community.”-Scott McFarland, Executive Director
"The Commission was VERY productive under his leadership, and I appreciate his commitment and hard work!"- Cynthia Sims, Commissioner
"Fred's leadership brought the Commission to new levels of excellence. His talent inspires."- Joe Rives, Commissioner
To spotlight the impact of national service and thank those who serve, mayors and county officials will participate in the fifth annual Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service on April 4, 2017.
Mayor and County Recognition Day
Last year Illinois had 127 Mayor and County officials join in on recognizing national service across the state. This year the number can only continue to grow.
Learn more about the Mayor and county recognition day initiativehere.