Seth Marbin is being honored as a Champion of Change for his time and effort in AmeriCorps.
AmeriCorps, and in particular City Year, profoundly shaped my personal values and helped clarify my life’s mission: to serve, and to help others serve. City Year also provided me with a toolkit for social change, and access to a diverse, inspiring and supportive community of change agents. It helped refine my theory of change, which involves leveraging both the private and public sectors’ resources for social good. I also met my future wife and amazing friends, mentors and heroes through City Year.
My AmeriCorps service journey began with the Youth Volunteer Corps of Corvallis, Oregon, where I grew up. I spent the summer after high school leading and mentoring youth on community service projects. We explored environmental science while installing erosion cloth on the banks of the river, learned about food insecurity preparing meals at a soup kitchen, and practiced event management by coordinating a city-wide skateboard competition. I gained the understanding that service is a powerful way to learn more about oneself and one’s community and break down social barriers.
I signed on for a second AmeriCorps term as a VISTA with the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce, with the goal of helping to improve literacy rates. Soon after we began, a major hurricane hit the island; we focused on disaster relief efforts for the next few months. Each day was an adventure: serving as a translator for doctors providing emergency aid in shelters, working on an assembly line to bottle safe drinking water, and helping coordinate delivery of relief supplies to remote towns with roads that had been washed away. I learned how to remain flexible to meet community and human needs, experienced profound kindness and compassion by many, and understood why it is hard for people to care about literacy when a blue FEMA tarp is their roof and they are unsure where the next meal is coming from.
Next I served in Seattle as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with City Year. I helped create and pilot the service-learning and leadership-development program, Young Heroes, which engaged thousands of youth nationwide.
As a public and private sector partnership, City Year’s model led to me to explore the role of the corporate sector in social change, which brought me in 2006 to Google, already a well-known global brand. Today, as a member of Google’s Social Responsibility Team, I help to encourage and enable employees around the world to use their skills, talents and resources in service and philanthropy. Daily, I use skills I developed in AmeriCorps as I meet with employees who want to make a positive difference and are seeking guidance, support and resources. I also put my experience to work when founding Googleserve, an annual tradition in which Googlers around the world join together in community service projects. Volunteering together helps to revitalize and strengthen our connections with the cities and towns in which we live and work, and also brings us closer together as a global team. Now in its 6th year, Googleserve has engaged more than 10,000 Googlers in over 40 countries.
I’m honored to be joining the Champions of Change community, and I wouldn't be here if not for incredible family, friends, and colleagues who have inspired and mentored me along my journey. I’m grateful for ongoing opportunities to give back. As a proud AmeriCorps alum, I will continue to help support and encourage others to be the change we seek in the world.
Seth Marbin is a Program Manager on the Social Resposibility Team at Google.