I served in the Corporation for National and Community Service in the first two classes of AmeriCorps volunteers in Denver, more than 20 years ago now. To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. I wanted to serve our country, but the military was not for me. AmeriCorps offered me the opportunity I was looking for. I lived, worked and traveled with an extraordinary group of 18- to 24-year-olds from all walks of life and from all over the country. We learned to work as a team, how to get along day to day and how to negotiate a trip to the grocery store to satisfy the needs of 12 people all from very different backgrounds. We did all of this while doing great works for the community. I learned lessons that carry through today.

We should be encouraging more Americans, not fewer, to do national service. It helps the communities that are served but also those who are serving. I ask Congress to support AmeriCorps because it makes our nation stronger.

Heather Jones, Arlington