My name is Kelly, and since last November, I’ve been the Programs VISTA at Mile High Youth Corps. I’ve also secretly been the editor of this blog. You’re welcome.
When I started this position, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d just finished up two years with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), so I had a pretty good handle on just what AmeriCorps service was like. I could recite the AmeriCorps pledge and tell you all about the 4000 hours of community service I’d completed. Becoming a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), however, presented a whole new set of challenges.
VISTAs work to eradicate poverty throughout the United States by building the capacity of non-profits, thereby allowing them to reach out to and help more people. Instead of the hands-on service I was used to, I was now going to be working in an office behind the scenes. VISTAs also earn a poverty-level stipend and are not allowed to hold another job so that they can better understand the people they are trying to serve.
Most of my friends thought I was crazy (“You’re going to deliberately live in poverty? Like, on purpose?”), but I wanted this opportunity. I really believed in Mile High Youth Corps’ mission—to help youth make a difference in themselves and their community through meaningful service opportunities and educational experiences—and I wanted to support it.
For the past year, I’ve done just that. I’ve prepared curriculum and materials to help prepare Corpsmembers for when they finish their terms at MHYC, created service learning to show them the importance of their actions, supported the functions of the on-site food pantry, helped with the all-corps service days—and more. I am grateful for the time I spent working with the wonderful and dedicated staff and Corpsmembers.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be part of a corps. The dictionary says that a corps is “a band of people working together,” which pretty much sounds like the most boring definition in the entire world—until you see it in action. People coming together to accomplish something for the greater good, dedicating themselves to improving both their neighbors’ lives as well as their own, creating a better world: that is what MHYC is. Being a part of that for the past year has been a real honor. I can only hope my next job is as cool.
Thanks, MHYC. It’s been a blast.