A Conversation with a Former AmeriCorps Director
by Sabrina Quimby
Monday, April 8, 2019
Service work is not for everyone, but for some it’s their calling. Bill is one of those people who was meant to help others and dedicate his life to it. We met for the first time at Serve Montana Symposium earlier in March and I was taken back by how laid back he was considering his resume.
He talked more about other people than himself and he is quite humble for someone who served this country on a national level for over four years (along with lifelong experience in the field of service in general). Bill has dedicated his whole life to public service and worked closely with Barack Obama and Joe Biden for years, people who are also advocates for doing national service pathways like AmeriCorps. After symposium was over I wanted to learn more about him beyond what was said in his talk and beyond what is on the old White House’s website.
I wanted to know how a Rhode Island native, that participates in winter sports in my home state of Vermont, came to be the accomplished person he is today. So I reached out to my colleagues to get his contact information, sent him a message, and was shocked that he answered so quickly. Next thing I know we are on the phone chatting and networking.
When I asked him about how he became who is he is today, he said he never thought he would make it to such a high position and is grateful everyday for his experiences. He just took any opportunity he was shown and all of them built up to the biggest position of them all. While in his position he worked closely with the former president and vice president of the United States to strengthen AmeriCorps while helping give awards to veterans for their service.
Throughout our conversation he was determined to help me be the most successful after this current service year and gave me so many helpful tips/resources to use. It was obvious how much he cares for service leaders and members as a whole—even after leaving his larger position.
Bill retired from the position in 2016 and didn’t want to fully end his career in public service so he continues his service at Washington Campus Compact daily along with volunteering weekly to help the homeless in Seattle. He has a lot of wisdom and I thought that I would share a few things that I learned from him:
- Motivation is hard to measure, but the ability to to try new things is extensive
- Being equal and being fair are two totally different things.
- Never pass up on new opportunities; there is endless potential there.
- The purpose of service is to understand the struggles of the community you are serving, not to try to solve everything. We get lost in trying to find solutions when we can just have compassion for people, giving them the hope for a better tomorrow while we support them.
Also Fun Fact: Bill is a college basketball fan and is big in March Madness
I will take Bill’s advice of, “Always Aim Higher” as I continue on in my service year and hope to even achieve a fraction of what he’s done for our country