Are you willing to be AmeriCorps Poor?

The average individual income in Montgomery County MD is $50,000

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The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $ 1609.00 a month

The living allowance for serving 1700 hours over 12 months in AmeriCorps Project CHANGE is $21,500

That works out at $1791 a month less taxes. If you are paying rent out of that, it leaves you with less than $200 a month for food, and other expenses!!!!!

You can only afford to do AmeriCorps Project CHANGE if you have the means to live beyond what AmeriCorps will be paying. It is not a job. It is a calling. You do it because of what you can give and not what you can gain.

The living allowance should be much higher but this is a year of service. One way to think about it is this- since you are serving those who don’t have much money, this is your way to build solidarity with them, to know the plight of the poor, and that when you struggle to make ends meet, your life is always at risk and your value always at the mercy of the job market.

Begging monk, woman putting rice into the begging bowl of a Buddhist monk,  Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand, Thailand Stock Photo - Alamy

There is an old spiritual tradition still practiced in countries like Thailand where young people serve a year or two as street begging monks to prepare for life, gaining a deeper sense of what is essential to a life, beyond a fat pay check and a double garage and a beach studio.