March 4, 2017 through March 11, 2017 is AmeriCorps Week, a chance to honor the hard work of members and alums. AmeriCorps members dedicate their time to their communities in hopes of making a difference…. and they have! Since 1994, more than ONE MILLION AmeriCorps members have joined the ranks of philanthropists of all ages and backgrounds to help serve communities by working with local and national nonprofit groups.
These AmeriCorps members perform a wide range of services, from building homes to tutoring children. To honor the AmeriCorps working in Central Florida through Heart of Florida United Way, we thought we’d give a few the spotlight treatment and let them tell you a little bit about their experiences.
“When I was a senior in college, I felt unsure of what to do after college graduation, having the inevitable question of “What’s next?” I learned about AmeriCorps from volunteering at my future sponsoring organization, and it seemed like the perfect solution for me. I was able to grow professionally, achieving things that I never thought I was capable of doing. I learned how to just dive in and not be afraid to try new ideas, or learn on the go. But, more importantly, I had the opportunity to work on a project that I was incredibly passionate about, helping young people in my community to have more on-ramps for college and career success.
Now in my second year as an AmeriCorps member, this time as a VISTA leader, I want to help create an amazing experience for my new VISTAs, like I had in my first year. I want to finish my year knowing that I helped create a sense of community and support within our Together for Tomorrow team, allowing our VISTAs to enjoy their service, and “Get things done for America”.”
Philip Jackson, AmeriCorps VISTA, at Kissimmee Elementary (in his second year)
“Starting in my teens, most of my work has been dedicated to community service and volunteerism. Becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA just seemed to be a logical and wonderful way to cap-off my years for community service.” When asked about his biggest achievement, he had this to say: “Too early yet! There is still much important work to be done!”
Sierra Ross, AmeriCorps VISTA, Colonial High School (a new VISTA)
“While assisting a student at a previous job apply for an AmeriCorps position, I began to reflect on a time when I first heard of AmeriCorps. During my final year of college, the pressure to obtain a job directly in my field of study discouraged me from serving with AmeriCorps. Three years later, having had experience working in the field of social work, I felt like it was time to transition back to what I wanted to do years ago in order to rightfully move forward in my career.”
Gabriella Mc Ken, AmeriCorps VISTA Central Elementary (just starting her second year)
“My biggest achievement has been seeing kids now reading 2-3 books when they previously lacked any interest for any books. I see their pure joy and excitement, knowing the volunteer is here to read with them.”
Stephanie Hansell, AmeriCorps VISTA (a new VISTA)
“I’ve lived in Osceola County my whole life, I want to give back to my community. My biggest struggle in finding a way to get involved also happens to be my biggest support system… my service dog Chayton. Because of Chayton, I was turned down by many places…. but here as an AmeriCorp, Chayton has a job too! She makes for a great icebreaker and not only puts me at ease, but others too. We can’t wait to help make an impact on our community!”
Thank you so much for all that you do AmeriCorps!!!
If you’d like to join the team and help make a difference in your community, please call 407-429-2170 or e-mail Heath.Wells@hfuw.org to find out more!