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Opportunity from Crisis: MU Expert Says Economic Downturn Provides Opportunities for Service to Others

March 17, 2009

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, 573-882-3346,
Rachel Wald, 314-588-8805,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - On Tuesday, the Obama administration endorsed a bill to increase national service, encouraging all Americans to participate in civic renewal. A University of Missouri public affairs expert says that the national crisis is an opportunity for people to serve their communities and improve their lives in the process.

“If there is a silver lining to the current economic malaise, it’s that a lot of people in the United States are starting to recognize the power of continued community service,” said Eric Greitens, senior fellow in the MU Truman School of Public Affairs. “People can use this time to help others while also improving themselves.”

People who are experiencing layoffs and financial stress can use their time to become active in community service. Greitens says that the benefits are well worth the time.

Greitens says that volunteerism is valuable to job seekers because it provides:

  • Opportunities for new connections and networking
  • Experiences aside from previous employment
  • Acquisition of new skills that improve candidates’ appeal
  • Renewed sense of purpose that helps maintain optimism in difficult time
  • Opportunities for transition and new direction

Greitens teaches public service, ethics, and leadership at the MU Truman School of Public Affairs. He has a background in academics, athletics, humanitarianism, government, non-profit, and the military, which he uses to bring new insight to the classes he teaches at MU. Greitens serves as volunteer chairman and chief executive of The Mission Continues. The Mission Continues Fellowship Program is the flagship project of the Center for Citizen Leadership. Its mission is to help wounded and disabled veterans find volunteer positions in their communities. The goal is to provide service opportunities for wounded veterans who still have the desire to serve their country, but whose disabilities prevent them from continuing to serve in the military. The Mission Continues accomplishes this goal by awarding fellowships for volunteer work to veterans who have suffered severe or traumatic injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan.