Growing up I was always energized by volunteerism and service (and still am!). As Katelyn described in her recent entry, I also was motivated to join AmeriCorps by a deep desire to help others. AmeriCorps gave me the perfect opportunity to use that drive and give back to my local community.
My experiences through AmeriCorps have been, to say the least, invaluable. I cannot imagine any other way that I would have wanted to spend my post-college years. As an AmeriCorps alum, I love looking back at the memories of my years working with community volunteers, mentoring fellow AmeriCorps members, and learning how to challenge myself in the process. Another awesome part of the alum experience is that I LOVE hearing stories from other alums.
Let me take you back to fall 2009 when I was in New York City trying to find my bus back home to Baltimore after a short vacation. At the time I was in my second year of service, during which I was a Regional Coordinator for Volunteer Maryland, mentoring a small group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. In my search for my way home I asked a young man for help who looked like he was looking for the same bus. It ended up that we were riding the same bus, and, through small talk, I found out that he was an AmeriCorps alum of an NCCC program. We sat next to each other on the bus and talked for at least an hour about our experiences. I have taken this same bus countless times and this chance encounter, by far, involved one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. This individual, who is now in his mid-20s, joined NCCC right after high school and was incredibly impacted by the people he worked with. He is currently a medical student and told me that his AmeriCorps experience had a huge impact on his decision to pursue his career choice. AmeriCorps gave him the unique opportunity to see many people in need and empowered him to make a change.
Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago. I recently met up with a friend of mine who was a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator last year at The GUIDE Program, a non-profit that provides services for individuals who have psychiatric challenges and disabilities. As an AmeriCorps member she was able to build a foundation for their volunteer program, which included a plethora of materials (policies and procedures, position descriptions, applications, evaluation materials, and an overall guide to volunteer management) and engaged new volunteers in meaningful volunteer roles such as tutors and recreational aides. During her service year she was accepted into a Master’s program in education and is currently pursuing her degree. In addition to being very excited about getting into the classroom after her schooling is complete, she can’t wait to implement volunteerism at the school she works at. Whether it be through parent volunteerism or a student garden, she wants to use the skills and knowledge she loved and gained from her AmeriCorps year to impact her community.
These are just two of an incredible list of stories of how AmeriCorps alums are continuing to serve as leaders in their communities because of the genuine impact of their service year. Both of these stories epitomize a small part of why I am so incredibly proud to be a part of national service.
How did your service year impact your life after AmeriCorps? Please share your stories here!