Money Can’t Buy What Service Pays Forward

Jul 9, 2014

This post is by Jamiel L. Alexander, a member of AmeriCorps Alums and president of YouthBuild USA’s National Alumni Council and Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Leadership Council. See below how you can get involved in a summer service challenge.

jamiel_alexander.jpgJamiel L. Alexander

I was sitting in a business management class during this summer semester while my professor was giving a lecture. As I tried to concentrate on the classwork, a song, “Money Can’t Buy” by Neo, played in my mind accompanying my thought process. I was thinking that the benefits of service cannot be bought similar to how affection cannot be bought in this song.

In an effort to serve my community better, I’m taking courses in business law, money and banking, and business management that have given me a new outlook on service. It is through service that I have become a Millennial leader. Yet, those who know me well (and even those who don’t) understand that service is who I am and what I do.

Since service is part of who I am, I knew I had to go to the recent Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project Summit on National Service in Gettysburg, Pa. I was one of many AmeriCorps alumni there who believed there should be a “bridge year of service” for graduating high school and college students. In my opinion, this opportunity should be open to anyone.

The need for the whole community, and not just parts of it, supporting service, was made clear to me by my conversations and participation in this summit of world and community leaders. Is it possible that 20 years ago, our pioneers of the national service community envisioned and imagined that we would be here, today, advocating and pushing this cause, humanity’s call, forward: Service to others!

When I went back to my summer school session after the conference, I started to see how the conversation on increasing investment in a business to help it grow applies to service too. A major concept taught in my business class is that of “compounding.” Compounding is earning interest on interest that was earned in prior years.

In class, I was thinking of how I could use this concept in my everyday life. My professor began to give us the story of his life. Of course a few of my fellow classmates gave the “here-we-go-again look,” but I began to go with him through a snippet of his journey: him growing up on a farm, his challenges in becoming a well-respected businessman in corporate America, and now a semiretired professor. (Neo’s song slowly fading in.)

As he paused, I sat there, and it hit me as he stated, “You will accomplish more than you think.” I thought, the accomplishments and the seeds of good deeds through service may not be seen or recognized now, but your service will be our legacy – a force for unity, not just for families but for our community for generations to come.

So, here is my challenge to you. We’re doing a summer service challenge on to encourage people to serve 20 hours this summer. Go to the link for your service pledge, give back and pay it forward.

This post first appeared on the AmeriCorps Alums blog,