“Service Before Self”: A Veteran Reflects on Her AmeriCorps Service

                In the town of Weslaco, TX, just 11 miles from the Mexican border,  54% of pregnant women lack access to adequate prenatal care.  Catholic Volunteer Network AmeriCorps Members are serving there with The Holy Family Birth Center to make quality care more accessible for the women and families of the Rio Grande Valley. What started as a small clinic is now a model birth center offering comprehensive maternal and infant care including exams, out of hospital births and education. 
CVN AmeriCorps members are working alongside the nurses and midwives to make it all happen. They live in a unique community that gardens together, eats together, and works together with a likeminded passion for serving others. Gina Fasciani’s path to The Holy Family Birth Center exemplifies this kind of passion and commitment to be in service to others.
                Gina Fasciani is a highly-qualified nurse-midwife who recently completed both her service in the United States Air Force and a graduate degree. “I was drawn to the military for multiple reasons,” she said. “I felt like it would be an honor to get to be a nurse taking care of our service members. I desired to be a part of something that was larger than myself.” Being part of the Air Force Nurse Corps seemed like the perfect combination of adventure and service, challenge and reward.  
                Her desire to serve did not end when she ended her term of service with the military. “After separating from the military,” she said, I found that I was immediately looking for ways that I could continue with that type of service to others.” When she discovered the CVN AmeriCorps program at Holy Family Birth Center, she says she found the “perfect opportunity to be able to serve those in need as well as to bolster my skills as a new midwife.”  In community with AmeriCorps Members, she found an “opportunity to be a part of like-minded people who are passionate about serving others.”

For Gina, AmeriCorps and military service are naturally related in that “in the Air Force, one of our core values is ‘Service before Self.’ This value was ingrained into our everyday life. We took great pride in putting the needs of our country and the needs of others before our own needs. Both the military and AmeriCorps attracts people who are willing to sacrifice and go outside of their comfort zones in order to meet a need.”
                Gina feels just as passionately about her call to service. She goes on to explain, “Christ’s perfect love compels me to serve.  James 2:14-17 says, ‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ The more I feel God’s love build in me, the more I feel the need to pour it out for others. I cannot keep such a beautiful gift of love to myself!”     

                Inspired by faith and supported by community, Gina Fasciani truly lives “Service before Self.” AmeriCorps gives veterans the opportunity to continue to serve their country and give back to their communities in order to address critical needs with measurable outcomes. This Independence Day, let us pause and express our gratitude for all those like Gina whose passion for service is an exciting example for all.

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