I was a teen in the '60s when the word "hippie" had a completely different meaning. Hippies were all about living for themselves and convincing others they didn't have to go along with the "establishment". Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, those we saw on the news who embraced the countercultural movement and lived by the code: "Do your own thing," seemed to be from another planet. For my friends and me, our greatest concern was passing the algebra test and if our football team would win on Friday night. We didn't consider ourselves volunteers but took action when our neighbors needed help, because that was the right thing to do. But there was a greater need in our country.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy launched the Peace Corps, which sent volunteers overseas with the task of fighting poverty. The next year, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a "war on poverty" at home and signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Act created Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA)
Then, in 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, which established the Corporation for National and Community Service and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization. This legislation built on the first National Service Act signed by President H.W. Bush in 1990. It also formally launched AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. Thus, AmeriCorps*VISTA.
VISTA is the only one of the AmeriCorps programs that focuses exclusively on fighting poverty, based upon these three guiding principles: 1) AmeriCorps*VISTA is dedicated to this proposition: that no one should go hungry in America, no one should be without a home, good education, and a livable income; 2) AmeriCorps*VISTA members help create or expand community-based programs, services and systems that help individuals in poor communities improve their lives for the long term; and 3) AmeriCorps*VISTA members live and work with the poor to help them develop their own solutions to poverty.
Please read Sarah and Amanda's entries below for our HIPPY definition. These women are both great examples of today's youth……..of today's volunteer. It might have taken 40 years for this Baby Boomer to become a HIPPY, but VISTA has provided me an opportunity, also, to be an example of today's volunteer. For more information, go to http://www.americorps.org/. Maybe there is a VISTA opportunity waiting for you.