On Friday, November 30th six AmeriCorps members of Volunteer Maryland attended the AmeriCorps Storytelling Festival hosted by CASA. The event was a six hour workshop where members from several different AmeriCorps programs came together and shared their service experiences with one another.
It was amazing to hear how service is impacting each individual. We all come from different backgrounds but each and every one of us, there’s something in us that drives us to be servant leaders in our community. It’s important for us to recognize the work that we do is important and we should share that recognition and our experiences with others because that is what brings us together, it’s what inspires change, and it’s what motivates others to get involved.
After this event, I began to reflect on my own stories of service prior to my AmeriCorps experience. I started to ask myself, “What do I think of when I hear the word service? What images come to mind when I think about service?” Suddenly, I felt a rush of nostalgia hit me and I began listing off a bunch of memories from my volunteer experiences throughout the last few years. When I think of service I think of playing bingo with Mary, a resident of a local senior center, and how she called me her “good luck charm” because she won every single game that day. She also called me a “good babysitter” to her three brand new stuffed animal prizes and she thanked me for taking such good care of them. I remember the moment I saw the light-bulb go off in a third-grader’s mind as we worked on his challenging writing assignment. He had the hardest time coming up with ideas, but after talking through the project, he wrote non-stop until our time working together came to an end. I think back on my weeklong service trip to New Orleans. We worked with an AmeriCorps program to help with repair work on the exterior of a home. That was where I first learned, in-depth, about AmeriCorps and how to look for opportunities to serve as a member. Lastly, I think about my days working as a counselor for a high school summer program, assisting with the community service class, and inspiring high schoolers to lead service-oriented lives. The kids that I worked with were so dedicated to every project we went to and they inspired me to keep getting involved.
My most important takeaway from the storytelling workshop was to always keep track of my service stories and share them with others. They help us stay connected, engaged, and inspired to do more.