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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2010
Society gives a smile and gentle pat on the head to the volunteer who reads a book to a child, clears trash from a park, or delivers meals to senior citizens. The nice guy or gal lending a helping hand through national service also gets a grateful thumbs up, though some scoff at the notion of being paid to do good.

But to Shirley Sagawa, service isn't nice; it's necessary. Strategically focused volunteering goes way beyond doing a good deed, she believes, and those performing national service are well worth the modest amounts we pay them to boost the impact of volunteers many times over and provide services that volunteers can't. Together, she argues in the book, they're a powerful force that can help solve challenges in childhood development, education, health, aging, poverty, natural disasters, the environment, and other critical areas.

Consistent with the policy acumen she put to good use in helping draft the legislation that created the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sagawa argues calmly but forcefully that we can't afford to neglect service in our arsenal of problem-solving strategies. Whether it's helping low-achieving kids do better in school, reducing recidivism among parolees, helping the unemployed secure stable employment, or reducing the risk of disease and infirmity among the elderly, service should be viewed as a cost-effective tool in our social toolkit, and we can either invest in the infrastructure needed to put it to good use now -- or pay a bigger price down the road. Whether you're a deficit hawk or a believer in "big" government, it seems like an easy choice to make.

You can read my full review of the book at[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2010
Full disclosure first for this review, I am the National Director of the Community HealthCorps (one of the programs featured in this book). As a practioner in national service this is a helpful discussion on the history of national service from someone who has been there for most of it over the last 20 years. Sagawa also captures the essence of those programs that see service as a solution (not the only answer) to helping our nation move in the positive direction of curing problems. We were honored to be featured in this book amongst such a group of programs that are more well known. We will continue to be the best and strongest program that we are able to be, and hope to live up to the honor of growing to scale for impact.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2010
Shirley Sagawa is one of the most insightful thinkers and important voices in the world of national service. For years, she has played a leading role in growing national service, especially AmeriCorps, from an idea into a major American institution. In The American Way to Change, Sagawa has rolled up her thinking about national service and her observations of some of the leading programs in the field like Teacher for America and Experience Corps. The result is a short but powerful volume. For anyone who has either a passing or a deep interest in the promise of national service, Sagawa's book is essential reading. Top recommendation!
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on June 17, 2010
As a long time participant in and student of service, I found Shirley Sagawa's The American Way to Change:
How National Service and Volunteers are Transforming America to be not only incredibly useful, but also inspiring. Sagawa lays out the most effective ways to leverage service for change in easy to follow prose and crisp details. She presents moving case studies and invaluable lessons for any organization, volunteer or civil servant. At a time when the national service movement, one of the few remaining bipartisan efforts in our country, is starting to gain real traction, there are a few more important reads than Sagawa's The American Way to Change.
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on July 21, 2010
Sagawa's book about service is both inspiring and informative. In her short but thorough book, Sagawa teaches you about different service organizations and the lessons that can be learned by their successes, all the while maintaining an excitement about the spirit of service. Whether you are someone who is curious about how the non-profit sector can help solve problems that the government and private sector ignore, or if you're looking for a way to join the non-profit movement, reading this book will help you. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any one.
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on June 20, 2010
Is there a problem in your community that you want to solve? Maybe there are too many teenagers with nothing to do this summer, or the garbage is not being picked up. This book is filled with concrete, well-researched examples of ordinary people who have started out solving a problem, and ended up transforming their entire community. This is an inspiring book, perfect for anyone who wishes to study how social change has taken place in our country.
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on June 26, 2010
I loved this book! I am familiar with the service movement, but the author brought it into such sharp relief. I learned a great deal, but more importantly, I was inspired by stories of individuals and effective programs. Sagawa makes a compelling case that service is a critical strategy for social change. Very inspiring!
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on November 21, 2010
I bought this book as a gift for my daughter who is a VISTA with AmeriCorp. It will open your eyes to volunteering in America and in your own backyard.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2010
Sagawa has written a very useful and scholarly overview, as far as it goes. However, readers should be warned that she employs a peculiar notion of what constitutes a helpful volunteer org. Her coverage emphasizes urban and "progressive" orgs. You'll learn about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Don't expect to learn anything about the Boy Scouts from this book. 4H Clubs? No way.
In an interesting twist on Sagawa's politics, her husband, Greg Baer, was recently scapegoated by the SEIU as a supposed villain in the housing crisis (he's an attorney for BofA). The SEIU bussed several hundred goons to pay a visit to Sagawa's home. They walked all over her lawn and poked around the windows (they proudly narrowcasted video of their activity on the Huffington Post; it's now on YouTube). Her young son was the only one home as this started, but her husband was brave enough to walk through the mob to succor the boy. Mr. Baer had just returned from ... a Little League game.
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