The President’s Volunteer Service Award

"It gave me an opportunity to break away from the 9-to-5 work day, travel the country, make lasting friendships and, most importantly, serve my community and other communities around the country."

Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps member Sarah Howe with Bill Basl, director of AmeriCorps. 

Each year, Rebuilding Together nominates members of our AmeriCorps program for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This award, granted by President Obama, recognizes citizens who have dedicated part of their life to service. A select few AmeriCorps members in each class are eligible for the highest honor, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for completing 4,000 or more service hours in their lifetime. For the 2014-2015 Rebuilding Together class, three members were recognized for their extraordinary commitment to service with this award: Craig Crossley, Dan Faris and Sarah Howe.

One of these recipients, Dan Faris, shared his story of lifelong dedication to service through his four AmeriCorps terms:

Dan Farris

Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps member Dan Faris helping rehab a home. 

"As a senior in college, I had the sudden realization, as many of us do, that I still didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. Many of my friends either had jobs lined up after graduation, or were pursuing further education. I wanted something different. I wanted an experience like no other. That’s when I discovered AmeriCorps. It gave me an opportunity to break away from the 9-to-5 work day, travel the country, make lasting friendships and, most importantly, serve my community and other communities around the country.

Each one of my AmeriCorps terms gave me unique experiences and knowledge that I carry with me today. During my first term as a Team Leader with the inaugural NCCC-FEMA Corps class out of Vicksburg, Mississippi, my team and I responded to the emergency situation in New York City three days after Superstorm Sandy had ravaged the area. In many cases, we were the first people survivors went to for supplies or information about how to get assistance. In my second AmeriCorps term, I served as a House Captain with Rebuilding Together New Orleans. I had the opportunity to conduct direct home repairs for low-income homeowners. While working with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, I learned a lot of new skills that have come in handy many times. My third term was with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, where I was able to dive deeper into how a non-profit works. It was my duty to help organize and ensure our block build events ran smoothly.

Currently, I am rounding out my AmeriCorps career with a fourth term, serving with the St. Louis Emergency Response Team. Our work varies, but mostly consists of environmental conservation, wildland fire response and disaster relief efforts.

I have led an interesting (some would say unconventional) life for the past few years but I would not give it up one bit. I have gotten to do some amazing things, travel all over the country, and meet some of the best people around -- and it was all because of AmeriCorps. I am honored to be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, and plan on continuing a life of service long after I am finished with AmeriCorps."

AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.