In honor of AmeriCorps Week, we are joining the national celebration to recognize those who choose to serve. In its almost 25 year history, AmeriCorps has engaged over 1 million United States citizens to build our homes, teach our youth, strengthen our businesses, protect the environment, and serve as mentors. To demonstrate the real life impact of national service, we asked some of our staff to reflect on their experiences with AmeriCorps.
“The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.”
For some, the decision to serve originates in a time of uncertainty. Brendan Anderson (Marketing and Communications VISTA) and Jennifer Bourgoin (Program Manager) both remember the terror at the end of college when, after years of taking classes, they suddenly had to put their education to work.
“I wasn’t sure how to start my career,” Jen recalls. “I didn’t know what industry I was interested in, didn’t know where I wanted to live, and didn’t know how to get started.”
“I wasn’t even really sure what I wanted to do,” Brendan laughs. “I majored in English and knew many things I enjoyed doing—like reading and writing poetry—but wasn’t sure how to convince someone to pay me for them. And then, my junior year, a professor handed me a flyer for City Year.”
The idea of national service provided a clarity and purpose that had previously been lacking. “I saw these pictures of people in red jackets tutoring students and I wanted to be one of them,” Brendan says. “A year later, when it was actually time to apply, I couldn’t remember the name of the organization at first, but I still remembered the smiles on the faces of the students in the flyer.”
Added Jen, “AmeriCorps seemed like the perfect opportunity and the answer to all my questions.”
Beyond providing opportunities to recent college graduates, AmeriCorps offers endless ways to serve even while still in college. During her junior year at Berkley, while majoring in Psychology and tutoring at a local elementary school, Adrienne Popeney (Manager, Affiliate Network) learned of an opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps from her supervisor. She had long wanted to get involved with the Service Learning Center on campus and had an interest in youth development even before that. “My supervisor told me I could manage a tutoring program in a nearby school part-time, so I immediately joined,” Adrienne recounted with a smile.
Through all the different stories from MENTOR’s staff, one quality in particular resonates in their voices: the need to give. This is expressed most clearly by Sam Hawes (Digital Communications Associate), saying: “For me, the service year was about paying forward support I received my entire life.”
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Follow our blog throughout the week to hear how their stories unfold.