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.
“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”
– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In addition to staff who served with AmeriCorps prior to joining MENTOR, four VISTAs currently serve with MENTOR to advance the mentoring movement. Now, a little more than halfway through their service year, Brendan Anderson, Jodie Martin, Katelyn McSweeney, and Madison Snelling reflect on some of the opportunities to learn and grow they have already encountered.
Each VISTA brings a unique skillset and interest to MENTOR, serving side-by-side with MENTOR staff in different departments to build organizational capacity. While a major reason for serving with MENTOR for each of them was to learn more about their strengths, they are united by a shared interest in supporting mentoring nationally and an unwavering commitment to young people.
For Madison Snelling (Development and Corporate Engagement VISTA) and Katelyn McSweeney (Program Quality and Training VISTA), the daily challenges offered by the office environment are a source of pride. Katelyn summarizes, explaining how excited she is “to constantly think outside the box to achieve efficient and effective results.” Both Katelyn and Madison have learned that the joy of creatively adapting to assignments, from communicating with the network to creating and organizing new content, is a reward in itself that will drive their career paths.
Meanwhile, the incredible opportunities provided to Brendan Anderson (Marketing and Communications VISTA) and Jodie Martin (Affiliate Network VISTA) have helped them each clarify their vision of the future. “I’ve definitely had several ‘wow’ moments this year,” Brendan recounts, “from hearing someone I interviewed say my writing honored his story and voice (which is such high praise I never even dare hope for it) to writing a Shakespeare joke into the Mentoring Flipped video with Blake Griffin that actually made people laugh! But, at the same time, I’m realizing how much I miss teaching with City Year and would like to do something in between.”
The service year has similarly informed Jodie’s career path. “I now know that I love working in this field,” she says, “and want a combination of direct and indirect service. I also have a better idea of what my strengths are and what skills I need.” She considers one of the more valuable experiences leading her to this conclusion was creating an infographic highlighting the National Survey findings. “I spent weeks collaborating with the Marketing & Communications team on layout and design before reconnecting with the manager who collected the data to make sure it was spun right. I even worked with David Shapiro, the CEO, to make sure it represented the company well. I still have the final copy on cardstock, and all of the previous drafts, hanging up in my room!”
Every VISTA is proud to serve with MENTOR and grateful for the opportunities to learn that are regularly offered to them. However, it is the people they’ve met – at Summit, in the community, and especially in the office – who have made this a truly unforgettable year so far. In the words of Jodie: “With people like these leading the mentoring movement, the youth who need mentors in our country are in good hands.”
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Find out tomorrow how the lessons from service built the careers of today.