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September 10, 2015

Why millennials are more service minded than past generations

While the notion of “making the world a better place” is not a new one, millennials have embraced a greater commitment to service than ever before—surpassing their parents and grandparents in volunteering. The Alliance for Young Families and Communities reports, “Young adults who grew up in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks and saw the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina are volunteering at home and abroad in record numbers.”

For young people like Stephanie Entizne, a second year AmeriCorps member with Reading Partners, the passion for “serving” was embedded early in life. Growing up, Stephanie learned the importance of contributing to her community and felt a sense of pride in the small community where she grew up.

We are a nation built on coming together in time of need, and from a joint effort we are able to make something extraordinary, something dynamic, and something beautiful, says Stephanie.

National service hits the scene

10450377_866149497761_3689233600868287821_nNational service-based programs like AmeriCorps have blossomed right along side millennials, giving way to some forward thinking nonprofit organizations like Teach for America, City Year, and Reading Partners. Now, 20-somethings have new opportunities to explore a year or more of service after college and before entering a long-term career path.  

Peihan Valentina Ko, another second-year AmeriCorps member serving with Reading Partners, always had dreams of “changing the world.” As a first-generation immigrant to the US, Peihan is passionate about helping other migrant families like hers, she says, “I know what it feels like to feel displaced in a new environment that is culturally different. As I navigated through these difficulties, I felt that it was integral for me to give back and help families and the community that are in a situation that I was just in not too long ago.”

National days of service inspire action

Young adults like Peihan and Stephanie experience service and volunteerism in more ways than one. While some commit to one or more years of intensive volunteer service, others experience volunteerism through spending one hour a week tutoring a student, or volunteering several times a year for community service events. Service days like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and 9/11 Day of Service have become outlets for empowering youth to take action and serve their communities.

For Peihan, 9/11 day of service offers a chance to connect directly with her community outside of her regular service hours. And it’s also fun! She describes 9/11 day of service as “an opportunity for fun, appreciation, reflection, and consideration.”

She says, “It is important to enjoy serving while also understanding the underlining theme of dedicating service to the strong men and women on September 11, 2001 and how we came together as a nation.”

This year, Reading Partners Silicon Valley has partnered with the Sunnyvale Fire Department for 9/11 day of service. Peihan and Stephanie are excited about joining her fellow Reading Partners team members in recognizing their local firefighters.

As millennials position themselves as the leading generation of volunteers, one can only hope this passionate group of individuals will continue to spread the tradition of service to future generations.

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