Success and Service

Albert Einstein once said, “It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service.”
As I contemplate my last year of service as an AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Corpsmember and find myself in my second year at MHYC as the Outreach Alumni Mentor I realize that, for me, the words success and service are synonymous. My success last year was not measured by how much money I made or by an office with a view. Truth is, living on a stipend has taught me more lessons than a bursting bank account and working at a state park with the mountains as a backdrop and hawks flying overhead is better than any office I could envision.

Still, my accomplishments were not even calculated by how many light bulbs I screwed in or by the number of trees I conquered with my chain saw. But rather, success for me came in the opportunity to serve the underserved and listen to those that are usually unheard. I was completely overwhelmed when I installed a toilet for a woman whose tiny four-year-old son named Kanye came and sat next to me on the bathroom floor with his Fisher Price tool set and told me that, when he grew up, he wanted to be just like me. Or when an elderly woman was brought almost to tears as she shared her story of her late husband’s service in WWII and thanked us for our service explaining how empowering it was for her to see young women like myself having so many opportunities and using them to do good. “Thank you,” she said as she took my hand in her smooth, weathered palm, “Thank you.” These experiences are immeasurable in terms of salary or even success but they were possible because of my decision to serve.

With only our YouthBuild crew up and running, it has been quiet around MHYC for the last month but that all changes on Monday when over 30 new Corpsmembers begin their terms of service. I, for one, want to thank them for choosing to serve and give back to their community. But the truth is, although they will be helping to better the lives and spaces of others, in turn they will be bettering themselves. And that is success.

-Vanessa Notman


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