This is the end of my second summer with Mile High Youth Corps, but the two have looked quite different. Last summer I spent my days chainsaw in hand, uniform on as an AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Corpsmember, while this summer I have spent most my time behind the computer screen, in the office as the Outreach Alumni Mentor.
But one thing has remained the same.
I have been lucky enough to spend both summers by the side of an amazing young woman, Veronicca Solis, lovingly known around MHYC as Roni.
Last summer after graduating high school in Aurora, Roni left her plush job at a jewelry store to join an MHYC Summer of Service land conservation crew. This meant putting her princess-like lifestyle of toting jewels on hold while she traded her emeralds for a green MHYC T-shirt, the air-conditioned store for the heat of the hot, Colorado sun and work in a strip mall for physical labor in the wilderness.
Everyday she showed up, smile on face, jokes at hand, ready with that infamous Roni giggle to brighten the days of her fellow Corpsmembers.
After her freshman year at the University of Portland in Oregon, Roni came back to MHYC for more. This summer she was hired on as the Summer of Service Support Corpsmember, which means she spent her days with piles of paperwork and running from crew to crew, worksite to worksite, to make sure everyone and everything was accounted for and running smoothly.
And again, everyday she showed up eager to learn and help – that giggle again echoing through the MHYC office.
Last summer we were lugging trees and this year we were carting paperwork from crew to crew, and although the work has been quite different, I am very lucky and thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Roni and come to know what a smart and enthusiastic person she is.
MHYC is so fortunate to have had Roni serve with us and we wish her the best of luck for her sophomore year at the University of Portland and all her future endeavors. Her hard work and compassion will lead her far.
-Vanessa Notman, Outreach Alumni Mentor