Richard Smaby

National service? Two words. What do they mean? "Service" is a huge word. It has positive connotations. There are a lot of ways to serve. The relevant contexts are "I serve my country" or "I serve my community." What is the difference between "I work in my community" and "I serve my community?" Working in one’s community might be primarily for personal gain. Serving one’s community or country is focused on benefiting others. Military service means putting oneself in harm’s way to protect others or supporting the combat effort. For reservists, it means sacrificing by putting their civilian careers on hold. The phrase "national service" broadens service to include service outside of the military, which is also based on altruism – helping others. This article describes how to serve your fellow Pierce County residents in meaningful ways. Serving in Pierce County is national service, not only because our county is in the United States of America, but also because a lot of the funding for the programs in Pierce County comes from the federal government.

Why Serve?

Do you need to be inspired to serve our county, state and nation? Read the 2012 Annual Report of the Washington State Commission on National and Community Service. 

The Corporation for National and Community Service has published a report entitled “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment.” 

The Franklin Project is a new venture by the Aspen Institute to marshal the best case for a voluntary civilian counterpart to military service in the United States. 

How To Serve

Since you have read this far, you must be interested in serving. Here are some steps to follow to get involved. AmeriCorps opportunities coincide with the school year and last 10 to 12 months , in part because a lot of members are students still completing their education. Selection for most of the positions for this year have already been made. For next year plan on applying in late spring to early summer. The best way to make contact for a particular service is to contact the program directly. There are a large number of programs and you should check out the listing of programs at the Serve Washington site.  On that page click on Programs in the left hand sidebar. Then click on AmeriCorps, again on the left. Once at the AmeriCorps page click on AmeriCorps Program Directory by County. You will see a map of Washington State. Click on Pierce County and you will see a list of programs in Pierce County. For example, pick College Success Foundation and you will find a contact person for Pierce County with his phone number and email address. You would take it from there.

There are opportunities for seniors that are not scheduled to match the school year. To find opportunities for seniors go to the general website for Serve Washington mentioned above. Then click on Programs in the left side bar. Then click on Senior Corps and drill down to what sounds interesting. For example, if you click on Retired Senior Volunteer Program, you will find a listing for Pierce County. Again, it is best to contact the organization directly. Note some programs for seniors have income requirements.