One of the many great things about our country is that there are so many opportunities to volunteer and help others. Additionally, there are programs designed to help us. While many argue that helping another is a way of helping oneself (and we don’t disagree) we want to highlight two amazing programs the United States has that help us promote goodwill around the world and help our own young people.
The programs are the Peace Corps, where we can volunteer to go to other nations and serve in the capacity of helping others, and Job Corps, where young people ages 16-24 can receive vocational skills and personal growth that they may not have access to otherwise.
The Peace Corps
While missionaries have been working for hundreds of years to bring spiritual awareness to others, the Peace Corps was proposed in the 1950’s to be a group of educated men and women who would serve as “missionaries of democracy.”
During the 1960 Presidential Election, then Senator Kennedy announced that he would compose a Peace Corps, which some believed would become a “haven for draft dodgers” (a fair concern for those who could not envision a world without a draft) and in 1961 it came to be via executive order.
Among some of the more famous volunteers in the Peace Corps are:
- Bessie Carter – mother of our 39th President
- Reed Hastings – CEO and Founder of Netflix
- Taylor Hackford – Producer of such films as “Ray” and “The Devil’s Advocate”
- Chris Matthews – host of Hardball on NBC
- Mary Kim Joh – composer and research scientist
- Tom Petri – 17-term Congressman from Wisconsin
For those who wish to join the Peace Corps, there are opportunities in nearly 70 countries. The key is to have a skill that is useful because while it is great to want to help others, it is even better to actually be helpful. This could involve knowledge of construction, plumbing, languages, or even law.
All of these valuable skills can be gained at a university or in Job Corps.
In the United States, not only are our young people fortunate to have a somewhat uniform standard of public education (and growing options for charter schools where they are deficient) but we also have programs for those who may not have the foundation built at home that will allow for them to be as successful as they can be.
In Job Corps, students not only learn a vocation in a safe place that is conducive to learning, but they are also taught skills in communication, independent living, career/personal planning, and achieving personal growth.
The program was started by President Johnson in 1964 and approximately 60,000 people are served each year from six locations around the country. The program is successful in that 75% of the students are able to be placed in a graduated program, such as a job through the program’s connections, the military, or by going to college.
Training is traditionally thought to be in technical fields such as welding and carpentry, but there is also training available for those looking to do administrative or service work, such as accounting and paralegal work.
As one may expect, the Job Corps alumni does not boast as long a list of well-known people, but there are quite a few to note, such as:
- Troy Carter – CEO of Coalition Media Group
- Judge Sergio Gutierrez – Court of Appeals (Idaho)
- Monique Williams – chef and culinary professor; featured on the Food Network
We love America, and we believe that many of our fellow citizens are just as interested in how great our country is, too. If you’ve ever had a Peace Corps or Job Corps experience, we’d love to hear from you.