Life After VISTA

As service years at Volunteer Maryland are coming to an end, I’ve been absorbed in what all of my members are doing next and how I can help them out. There are great jobs, exciting moves, graduate school and amazing plans for so many of our VISTA members and I’m proud of every single one of them. Jennifer at the Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County will even be heading to Dublin to work with L’Arche! I realized about about a couple of months ago though that I was focused on making sure my members have concrete plans while I myself wasn’t looking past the world VISTA with a whole lot of focus.

Much as Kimberly eloquently stated, I have long struggled with ever-changing passions. Everything I care about is connected in some ways, but I’ve had a hard time maintaining focus in one area for a terribly long time. After all, when there are so many good things to be done, how can you focus your life on a single issue area? For the past several years though, there have been two running themes: food and the wise and just use of resources. When I focus strictly on environmentalism, I long for a more immediate connection to human need. When I was in the culinary field I abhorred the waste, unhealthy ingredients and huge distribution companies involved. When working with kids, I shudder when serving them macaroni and cheese or soda. My experience in AmeriCorps has taught me that any skill, talent or career field can be applied to nonprofits, so I don’t feel as compelled as I once did to study sociology, public health or any other field which has an inherent connection to service. Adding in the two education awards, the difficulties of having lived on a stipend for almost two year and the realization that I’m in my mid-20s and should probably stop changing my mind about what I want to do… there’s been a lot to think about and consider.

After putting countless hours of deep thought into all of these things, I have decided to pursue a degree in dietetics and remain working in the nonprofit field for the duration of my studies. At Camp Fire, we recently began using the Hold On to Health curriculum, which employs goal-setting and decision-making exercises to teach youth and their families about the importance of eating healthy, being physically active, and making healthy choices.”  Between programs like that, the current food movement, the push to accept EBT benefits at farmers markets and the great work of organizations like The Field to Fork Network pushing to bring nutritious foods to under served communiteis, I have no doubt that I will be able to merge my passion for food, my studies for dietics and my belief in community service into an interesting and fulfilling career path.

While I’m still focused on my three remaining months with Volunteer Maryland, I’m now very excited about what the near future will bring.  I’m incredibly grateful to the amazing staff, support team members, coworkersr and others who have been a part of my life for almost two years now.  My outlook on life and future plans are drastically different from that day I showed up in Baltimore to test out this AmeriCorps thing and I can’t wat to see waht comes next.


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