AmeriCorps volunteers help to unite service with learning
When Brittany Bounds, a Citadel AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, thinks about the importance of service in education, she thinks about the words of a Medal of Honor recipient.
“’You’ll never truly lead anybody until you learn to serve, and you’ll never truly serve anybody until you learn that there is something more important than yourself,’” said Bounds quoting Medal of Honor recipient Army Sgt. Gary Beikirch. “This quote so accurately explains that principled leadership starts with thinking of others first.”
Bounds, of Monroe, N.C., and Samantha Farmer, of Lancaster County, Pa., are the two newest AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers coordinating and supporting service projects that involve The Citadel and the Charleston community.
The volunteers, working through The Citadel’s Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, work with more than 35 agencies throughout the Charleston community. In the 2010-2011 school year, 810 cadets logged 5,640 hours of community service as mentors and tutors, helping out at recreational programs and food banks visiting the Veteran Affairs hospital.
“The VISTA office truly believes that volunteering and service learning facilitate strong leadership qualities, which is a cornerstone of every cadet’s education,” said Farmer.
Currently, the VISTA volunteers are among several people and departments on campus planning The Citadel’s second annual Heroism Day on Nov. 8. During a full day of community service, more than 200 cadets will volunteer for charities and at schools and organizations throughout the Lowcountry. The VISTA office is one of many departments participating in Heroism Day. In addition, every freshman cadet will teach a curriculum-based unit on heroism in local elementary schools. The elementary students will make a card or letter to thank a hero. Other departments at The Citadel are offering workshops, seminars, and training.
“Our goal is to take some of the leg work out of community service,” said Farmer. “Since the implementation of a VISTA on The Citadel campus, cadets have really proven time and time again that they make fantastic volunteers. Their leadership skills, organization, and willingness to do whatever it takes to complete a project are invaluable to our community partners.”