Federal Player of the Week
Chad Jeremy: Facilitating a volunteer movement
Chad Jeremy often thought about the importance of public service, but the idea of a career in government really did not take shape until he spent two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer involved in activities that ranged from restoring a YMCA camp to building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
"I fell in love and found my calling," said Jeremy. "I was bitten by the service bug, and from this experience, I knew that I wanted to come back and work in the service field and work with AmeriCorps."
Today, Jeremy manages a $40 million AmeriCorps grant program for Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Idaho. The grants provide funding to organizations like Habitat for Humanity and to state agencies that support the work of community groups involved in health care, after school tutoring and assistance to at-risk youth and people with disabilities.
Thomas Devine, the executive director for the Wisconsin National and Community Service Board, sees firsthand the impact that the $9.5 million federal investment and Jeremy's help is having on his state.
"He has supported the development of 39 AmeriCorps programs with members serving in all 72 Wisconsin counties delivering services as teachers, mentors, tutors, builders of affordable housing, stewards of the environment, non-profit capacity builders, providers of respite care and therapeutic recreation," said Devine.
After temporarily leaving college to work on Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign in Florida and then spending time working in Los Angeles, Jeremy signed up as a volunteer with National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program for 18-24 year-olds modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.
At the conclusion of a two year stint that included working at an estuary in Delaware, restoring the YMCA camp in Massachusetts and helping the elderly and disadvantaged in Florida, the picture became quite clear.
After finishing college, Jeremy obtained an entry-level position with NCCC in 2005. This position led him to the assistant program director of training at NCCC's Baltimore campus, where he was responsible for developing and leading the eight week AmeriCorps NCCC member and team leader training.
During the course of three years, he trained roughly 800 NCCC volunteers, providing them with skills in first aid, disaster training, interpersonal communications and teamwork, as well as personal goal setting to help volunteers make the most out of their year.
"I had to be a puzzle master," said Jeremy. "There was a huge tension in this position to balance the required training for the program to be successful while creating interactive, experiential learning opportunities geared towards a younger population."
In February 2010, Jeremy brought his "boots on the ground approach" to his current position as a program officer where he assesses grant applications and lays the groundwork for the work of AmeriCorps volunteers
Jeremy said his work makes him feel like "one of the luckiest guys in the world."
"Every day I get to be part of a team that facilitates a service and volunteer movement that is gaining critical mass to solve the most pressing community challenges throughout the nation, and this impact is not lost on me," he said.
This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and washingtonpost.com. Go to www.servicetoamericamedals.org to nominate a federal employee for a Service to America Medal and http:/