President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama:
Greetings. I would like to address this brief memo to the two of you and first take this opportunity to simply thank you both for the service you are doing for our nation, and too, this world.
As I know you well understand, it is such commitment to our country, our communities and each other, in all its many forms, that truly sustains what is great when we think of our United States. And so in short, I would like to speak with you on the issue of National Service, and further thank you for your recent support of the Edward Kennedy Serve America Act.
As a recent alum of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, I feel I am in position to offer some perspective, and more so that it is even perhaps somewhat of a duty, that I speak to the incredible nature of this comprehensive service initiative.
Like so many others of my Millenial generation upon graduating college, I too, was looking for work experience where I would continue making a difference and might still also feel good about my efforts at the end of the working day; for me, it would not be about just making money.
However, unlike so many of my peers, it was an academic scholarship that found me fortunate enough to graduate debt-free – and in a position where I could now realistically consider just such an idealistic and service-oriented path. I know you recognize as well as I do, the sad truth that the cost of higher education today acts, all too often, like a tragic weight on one’s shoulders, rather than the stepping stone toward opportunity that we know it to be.
Debts to be repaid unfortunately do not lend themselves toward careers in public service and the non-profit sector.
I am ever so grateful for my time with AmeriCorps NCCC and the opportunity to serve and travel the country, in a 15-passenger van on a team with 12 other young people who would grow to become my extended family ... and also, to see and feel, to know, that the efforts we were directly engaged in, was work that we could really feel proud of, work that warranted our pride - rebuilding homes with the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, for instance. And too, of course, the chance just to explore the United States, on so many different levels, meeting so many people and visiting new states; this was the best year of my life.
But more so, I will say proudly that my time with AmeriCorps NCCC was a journey that has surely helped shape the path that I now find myself walking – and an experience that I truly and genuinely believe that everyone in this country would only be so lucky to be a part of.
I share your hope and confidence that expanding opportunities to serve like AmeriCorps is just what the American public is looking for, at a time when we surely need it most.
I wish you much continued success on your path as our First Family and I look forward to continuing to work with both of you in the days and months ahead.