Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Veteran Reflects on Service with Catholic Volunteer Network AmeriCorps Program

By: Kate Flannery, CVN Intern

Katie Kimsey, a former Navy officer, has learned that trading in her uniform does not have to correspond with giving up service to our nation. AmeriCorps programs like the one she participated in are providing for more than the neediest of our country—they are also easing veterans’ return to civilian life.

Kimsey, who served with the Navy for five years, explains that volunteering with the Episcopal Urban Internship Program (EUIP), an AmeriCorps program with the Catholic Volunteer Network, helped her “learn the civilian culture again, especially with regard to working.”

Describing EUIP as a program providing a “safe space to relearn the rules,” Kimsey also said that her placement enabled her to relearn working social norms she had missed out on while in the Navy—things like getting used to calling everyone by their first name, working eight hour days and incorporating the words “business casual” into her wardrobe. Living in community and learning to budget her modest stipend as a result of her placement also helped Kimsey adjust to the civilian world.

Kimsey, who joined the Navy to pay for college and give back to her country, learned about EUIP while taking a yearlong break after finishing her term year of military service. While on a mission trip to New Orleans, a conversation with the director of the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) program sparked her interest in working with a program where she could use skills accumulated throughout her career to help nonprofits grow and flourish. After completing the ESC application process, she was accepted into the Episcopal Urban Internship Program.

EUIP lies within a consortium whose mission is to promote stronger neighborhoods of justice that enrich the community. Through EUIP, Kimsey worked as a Volunteer Coordinator at a children’s center in Long Beach that provided low cost healthcare to the community.
Kimsey’s previous Navy training was also invaluable to her success with EUIP.

“Because of my time in the Navy, I was able to persevere and create, almost from scratch, a volunteer program,” she explains.

Now in her second year studying law at University of San Francisco Law School, Kimsey credits her volunteer work under AmeriCorps as bringing about a positive conversion in her life. With her Navy post 9/11 GI Bill, merit scholarship and Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, Kimsey will graduate from law school debt free.

Meanwhile, Kimsey’s program placement introduced her to a world yearning for help--a need she would ultimately feel passionate about attempting to alleviate. Her placement showed her how much she enjoyed working with a diverse community. In doing so, she found a vocation that changed the course of her life.

“While working in Long Beach I saw how much good lawyers and people who know the law can do. I also saw how many people there are out there who need help,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey plans on addressing this need by working in the public interest field after graduation from law school.

Through her placement after the Navy, Katie Kimsey was able to redefine the definition of service to her country, discerning her vocation along the way and making it her own. Her future career path in law attests to the fact that service is by no means a stagnant or untimely decision. In memory of 9/11, we especially remember and honor those who serve our country through military commitment and extend the invitation to serve one another in our daily lives to all.


Established in 1963, Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN) is the leading non-profit association for domestic and international volunteer programs. Currently, more than 14,000 volunteers serve in its member programs throughout the U.S. and in over 100 other countries worldwide. It has been the largest faith-based grantee of Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency who administers the AmeriCorps program. Its annual directory, RESPONSE, lists faith-based volunteer opportunities both domestically and overseas. To receive a copy or learn more, please visit www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org