When our Associate Director, Nikki Rohling, asked me to write a blog in celebration of AmeriCorps Week (Saturday March 10th-Sunday March 18th), her timing could not have been more perfect. It just so happened that I planned to travel to Phoenix, Ariz. with our AmeriCorps Coordinator, Kristin Wolford, that week. I was scheduled to visit colleges and universities in Arizona, while Kristin had site visits at two of our AmeriCorps Programs, Maggie’s Place and Andre House.
In addition to Kristin coming with me to Grand Canyon University and the University of Arizona, I also got to tag along on her site visits. At each program, we took a tour of the facilities, talked with the Program Directors and interviewed AmeriCorps Members about their volunteer experiences. So we thought we’d share a little of what we learned.
AmeriCorps Member Name: Megan
CVN Program: Maggie’s Place – community that provides houses of hospitality for expectant women who wish to achieve their goals in a dignified atmosphere.
College: College of Mt. St. Joseph
AmeriCorps Member Name: Laruen
CVN Program: Andre House of Arizona – house of hospitality that serves poor and homeless people in their efforts to avoid and escape life on the streets.
College: Lamar Institute of Technology
Describe a typical day.
Megan: I usually spend the mornings with the moms, then work on maintaining the house budget and being a liaison between the house staff. I have supervisory meetings with my staff, coordinate the office and babysit for the moms in the afternoon when they are working on employment or educational opportunities.
Laruen: I direct Andre House guests to services, sort toiletry, food and clothing donations, engage in conversations with the guests and have lunch. Then in the afternoon I’ll work in the office monitoring guest phone calls and medication. I visit the food bank to prepare for dinner that night, attend to guests’ laundry, monitor the showers and give out toiletries.
What do you like best about your work?
Megan: I love working with the moms and seeing their progress from the time that they arrive to the time that they exit. I also love knowing that they have support and an ongoing relationship with Maggie’s Place.
Lauren: I think mainly it is just the interaction with guests. Getting to know the regulars, both their names their stories. And having the opportunity to not only provide for their basic needs, but also for their need for company.
In assessing your service, what do you think has been its greatest contribution to the community in general and the low-income community specifically?
Megan: Maggie’s Place helps get women off of the streets and create a better future for themselves and their children
Lauren: Providing our guests with a family atmosphere and someone to talk to.
What are your future plans upon completion of your term?
Megan: I plan to stay with Maggie’s Place as a full-time staff member.
Lauren: I plan to get a job and apartment either here in Phoenix or in the Austin area. Then I plan to go back to school to get my BA in Accounting and my MBA and maybe my CPA. I’d like to do books for places like Andre House or possibly open my own Catholic Bookstore.
How do you feel that being an AmeriCorps member has added to your service experience?Megan: I am appreciative of the funding and I think that I find even more meaning in my work because of that gratitude. It also makes it easier to talk with others about my service experience because we’re part of the larger AmeriCorps movement.
Laruen: The education award will be very helpful for me in my plans future plans to go back to school. I’ve also gained skills that make me more marketable such as time management, prioritizing duties, learning to organize my space and coordinating volunteers.
Many thanks to Megan and Laruen and all of our CVN AmeriCorps Members for your contributions to your community! Keep up the amazing work!
How CVN Can Support You as an Alum?
With the launch of our new website, CVN has a section devoted to CVN Alumni. We also host webinars and trainings for former volunteers on topics. Some archived webinars are Advocacy 101- for Former Volunteers, Leveraging your Volunteer Service for Career Success, Abundance in Ministry: Dealing with Transitions and Self-Care and Getting a Grip on Your Student Loans. On March 28th, we will host Deepening Action for Fair Trade. We also organize Alumni Service Days where you can meet and network with other former CVN volunteers in your area.
Another Perk: AmeriCorps Alums
AmeriCorps Alums is its own non-profit organization that provides networking and support services to former AmeriCorps Members. One such service includes a partnership with H&R Block, in which AmeriCorps Alums can have their taxes done for free. Visit http://www.americorpsalums.org/ to learn more.