So, here I am wrapping up my final service year. What an incredible journey it’s been. AmeriCorps has truly impacted my life for the better. When I joined AmeriCorps in 2011, I did not have a solid idea of what I wanted to gain from this experience. What I did know is that I was invested in creating social impact. Since childhood, all I ever envisioned for my life was to help others. However, it took me a great deal of time and understanding to find my calling, and it all started while serving with AmeriCorps.
As an AmeriCorps member, I gained a wealth of knowledge; skills, and experience empowering others with the skills needed to create solutions to common community issues. My experience with outreach has been educational and has given me the opportunity to raise awareness of community services and resources. In this my last service year with AmeriCorps, I’ve realized that my passion is community outreach. AmeriCorps gave me the direction I needed to see this by providing the opportunity to serve in my community.
AmeriCorps showed me that service is not an option; it’s a way of life. Volunteering is a part of my identity. Being an active member in the community is important to me. Serving as a soup kitchen volunteer on the weekends isn’t just a time to feed the homeless. It is an opportunity to play an important role in impacting the lives of Baltimore’s citizen.
Kim, a new regular Saturday soup kitchen attendee age 30, has spent the last year jumping from shelters to city streets. When I first meet Kim at a gas station across the street from my church, she was jaded. She was not interested in human contact or receiving help. Kim had lost her job, her home, and her two children to social services. “Are you here to save me too,” she said. “No, I just noticed you out her every Saturday morning, and wanted to say hello,” I said. Saturday’s I dedicated time to engaging with Kim. She was looking for a friend and I provided that for her. In June Kim ventured over to the soup kitchen and asked for me one Saturday morning. She was finally ready to ask for the help she needed to get her life back on track. She expressed her gratitude and thanked me for helping her turn her life around. Kim is now on her own seeking employment and attending job coaching sessions with a local community program.
Believing in the significance of community engagement is critical to social change. AmeriCorps has strengthened my abilities in this. What I have learned these last three years will stay with me forever and will continue to drive me in my mission. AmeriCorps helped shape how I view the world and connect with others. I can’t say that I’d be who I am today without the experiences I’ve had. My service gave me the confidence to preserve, strengthen my core values, and determination to get things done. I am eternally grateful. My experience has been defined by what I wanted it to be and there was no endpoint to my dreams coming true. I am fulfilled, full of optimism and hopeful about life after AmeriCorps, and I owe this to Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps.
I am on my way to a new adventure. Wish me luck! For I can’t stop now, I’ve only just begun to change the world.