Celebrating 30 Years of National Service

May 13, 2024
4 people jumping

Left to Right: Kerrigan, Simone, Emma, and Cassie jump in front of the Wine Spectator Building

Simone Barnard

Hi there, my name is Simone Barnard and I’m an AmeriCorps VIP (Volunteer Infrastructure Program) member serving at Common Ground Society, a local nonprofit here in Sonoma County. At CGS, we help families with disabled loved ones find resources and community through inclusive education, advocacy, and meaningful connection. My fellow AmeriCorps member, Bella Martinez, and I serve out of the CCE office, working with on-campus programs to build volunteer capacity and bring back the community environment on campus.

 Left to Right: Cassie, Emma, and Kerrigan sit in
front of the fireplace in the Student Center, one
of our scavenger hunt answers.

On March 15th, Bella and I were able to attend the AmeriCorps retreat at SSU. AmeriCorps is celebrating 30 years of national service this year, and the VIP program is celebrating 15 years! In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed The National and Community Service Trust Act that made way for AmeriCorps to begin operations. AmeriCorps is made up of many branches including: VIP, EXL (Expanded Learning), NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), and Climate Corps. Annually, AmeriCorps enrolls over 200,000 individuals to serve organizations making a difference across the country.

Left to Right: Cassie, Kerrigan, and Emma
pose in front of the Library building.

The celebratory day started off with a scavenger hunt around campus. Luckily for Bella and I, we know the campus very well, so our teams had a distinct advantage. We were given riddles that corresponded with eight different locations on campus. These locations included: Darwin Hall, Schulz Library, the education office in Stevenson Hall, the Bacon and Eggs Sculpture, the Rec Center, the fireplace in the Student Center, the Wine Spectator Learning Center, and the lake by Commencement Lawn. I really enjoyed showing my fellow AmeriCorps members our beautiful campus and all it has to offer.

After the scavenger hunt, we reconvened in Salazar Hall to continue our day. As we were about to begin our next activity, we were visited by the unofficial mascots of SSU, the one and only Bismarck and Ari. They are very large Newfoundland dogs that visit campus with their owners and are very well connected with students and faculty. Through Bismark’s social media, they promote events that happen on campus. We were able to take pictures with them and enjoy their company.

Left to Right: Rae, Lindsey, Eben, Diego,
Simone, Kerrigan, Dan, and Bella pose with the
unofficial mascots of SSU: Bismarck and Ari.

After that wonderful surprise, we heard words from those who brought AmeriCorps first to SSU, before moving to NCOE (Napa County Office of Education). 15 years ago, the AmeriCorps VIP and EXL programs were introduced to SSU students. While it was successful for many years here, it then moved to NCOE to expand into Napa County, in addition to Sonoma County. After lunch, we worked on professional development and how we can utilize what we have learned through our time serving. Lastly, we assisted in a service project which consisted of restoration of Copeland Creek on campus. We partnered with SSU’s Center for Environmental Inquiry for this wonderful project. We spent our time removing invasive plants like primrose and medusa-head to help our native plants flourish along the creek this spring. It was a very fun and fulfilling project, and I enjoyed learning about the different invasive plants, as well as the native plants.

In all, it was a wonderful day spent with fellow current AmeriCorps members as well as alumni celebrating all that AmeriCorps has accomplished in the past 30 years and will do in the next 30 years!