AmeriCorps VISTA Spotlight: Dorothy Whitfield

Dorothy Whitfield, Development VISTA at MENTOR
March 12th, 2020
Posted In: Campaigns, Mentoring Stories

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I am excited to celebrate Women’s History Month this year as MENTOR’s Development VISTA through AmeriCorps. In this role I help add capacity to MENTOR’s Affiliates by offering fundraising support, creating and distributing fundraising tools and templates, and helping to lead in-person and virtual fundraising trainings. Having developed a passion for social work, I was inspired by Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming”. Her tremendous commitment to serving her country encouraged me to more deeply explore how I could make a difference too. In the future, I plan to be a part of an organization where I can provide direct service to the community in which I serve. I grew up without a formal mentor but still had influential people in my life. It wasn’t until I started working at MENTOR that I realized what a difference a mentor could have made in my life as a youth. In addition to serving the community as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I want to help inspire women to fulfill their true potential.

            Despite not having a mentor, I had a friend’s sister give me the opportunity to better myself, which set the bar for how I navigate my professional career today. One night on my way out the door to work around 11:00pm, I was stopped by my friend’s sister Alice. She asked me, “Where are you going this time of night?” I explained to her that I was on my way to work. The next week she called and briefed me about a new position that opened up at her job. I ended up getting the job as an officer manager working for an oil and gas company. She could have easily presented her sister (my friend), with the opportunity but instead I was the chosen one. Alice saw potential in me that I did not see in myself. This was my first corporate job and she was there every step of the way navigating me through the whole process. Alice taught me office etiquette, how to set up office meetings through the Outlook calendar, and most importantly how to balance my work life as a young working mother of color, which is a form of self-care I later learned.

I am grateful to have had Alice as a part of my life guiding me through a very important time. I was able to learn many life lessons and working skills that have all helped me serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. As a result of not having a formal mentor myself, I feel the need to take on the responsibility of mentoring younger females to help bridge the gap for younger generations. Being an AmeriCorps VISTA has helped change me and taught me more about how I can be of service to the community and others. This year, I am using Women’s History Month to challenge myself and other women to reach out, break generational curses, try new things, and empower others.

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