When people hear that this is my fourth term at Mile High Youth Corps the question is always asked, “What do you like about MHYC that keeps you coming back?” I never struggle with answering this question and I thank MHYC for making it easy because I know outside of here I will never find another place with such unique qualities as I have found here. Yes, it is a job but it never really feels like a job in the sense that we are more of a family all pushing towards the same goal. So my journey begins…
I started in YouthBuild, not sure what to expect from MHYC. I did not have my G.E.D or High School diploma and so my only goal was to earn this and move on with my life. Working my way through the program my eyes began to open and a new world started to unfold in front of me. What I experienced with the crew and staff changed my idea about what I wanted to do in my life. Volunteering in the community, mentoring youth with the PACE program, and building housing for low income families brought out characteristics I did not know I had. I became more invested in YouthBuild instead of just trying to earn my G.E.D. Every day I wanted to do more, I would ask staff members for Independent Service Projects I could do on my own and volunteer when we had work related events. I earned a spot on Leadership Council and was able to support my fellow Corpsmembers and other projects within the organization. Before I finished getting my G.E.D I knew I was 100% in support of MHYC and wanted to do more in the organization. I knew my next step was working on another crew.
I remember one of my final reviews with our program manager I had mentioned an interest with the Americorps Leadership and Conservation (ACLC) program. By being ahead in hours to earn my Americorps Education Award she told me that this is a possibility. I put in my application and submitted my resume. Two interviews later I got the position on the ACLC crew. At this point I knew that I will be put at a higher standard because this is a demanding position. I was very nervous and you would think already working with MHYC and transferring programs I would be set to go. Again I was nervous, I literally just earned my G.E.D and I was now in a program with Corpsmembers who had their four year degree. I later saw that this was not something they took notice of and where more interested in the accomplishments I had already done with MHYC. The ACLC crew dynamic was greatly different than YouthBuild. That goes for all the programs it is like you are a little family branched out of the MHYC family whole. Like when I talk to people from YouthBuild the most common thing we say is, “you already know, it’s YouthBuild,” and we do know because it was a unique experience. My ACLC term was one of the most life changing experiences I’ve had. During the spring were working alongside the Water and Energy crew installing products to help low income families conserver water and energy; High Efficiency toilets, water saving aerators and showerheads, CFL’s, and programmable thermostats. The service we provided was amazing, families who were in need, we helped. Seeing the excitement and joy on client’s faces was the most rewarding piece at the end of the day. Even if we were unable to fully help them, they were thankful we tried and some of the times them having a visitor and someone to talk to for an hour in their day was all they needed to put a smile on. Being exposed to the community which I’ve lived in all my life was great, seeing a side of it I never had.
We then transitioned to the Land Conservation portion of the ACLC term. I was placed on the Pathfinders trail crew for the summer. With my ACLC partner Josh, Crew Leader Johnny, and the amazing crew we had, we made trail work look easy. It could also be that I really think that half the crew were machines in disguise, our motto was, “Pathfinders take no breaks” and we really didn’t if you felt you needed five minutes you took it and got back to work. The summer made me passionate about environmental conservation and fueled the drive for what I want to pursue in college, a degree in Forestry. Being an assistant crew leader really challenged my leadership skills that I brought from YouthBuild and learned through lessons taught by Tom, Christy, and Jesse. It gave me skills to be used throughout my life; communication, teamwork, how to give and receive feedback, and much more that I used every day. Yes, there were both good and bad days, that summer heat and physically demanding work got the best of me and the rest of us at times. Though we all knew that we had to work together to get the job done. When we had the chance to relax and all come together as a crew we had tons of fun; paddle boats on Evergreen Lake, surprise pizza parties from our Project Sponsors, or creating crew games while we are out working yelling at the top of our lunges “Flower!, Mullen!” and other stuff that made us look crazy (could possibly be the two weeks pulling invasive species at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal).
The ten month program with the ACLCs had come to an end. I didn’t really know what I was going to do after it. I took a look back and evaluated the last year of my life. I really enjoyed my time working with the Water and Energy crew. I called Steve up and asked if there were any spots left on the crew. Once again I was back at MHYC. I won’t go through all the stuff I did as I mentioned it already but it was just as rewarding if not more since I was placed in a leadership role from the start. I worked with the Water and Energy crew before as an ACLC but now I was a part of the family, a new crew dynamic to adapt into and I made the most out of what I thought to be my last term with MHYC.
The Water and Energy term ended in June 2014 and you are probably thinking, well he said four terms in his intro so I imagine he started up a new term. Well I thought I was done. Since I was not eligible for an Education Award it looked that way. For the rest of the year I was not in a MHYC program. I found a couple of jobs but they were just that, jobs. I wanted back in the MHYC family. It wasn’t until February 2015 that I would find a new chance. The Outreach and Programs Corpsmember position opened up. The recurring theme here, I applied and now I am in the position. Since the position is still going I cannot speak for an overall outcome. I started March 3rd, I am one month in and I can tell you that this is a whole new set of skills I must use daily but thanks to being with MHYC for so long and seeing all the different parts has made the transition easy for me.
I can’t tell the future and I do not know where I will be at the end of this term. I do know that I am setup to accomplish a great amount and I have Mile High Youth Corps to thank for it. To think it all started one summer day sitting and waiting to see if I was accepted into the YouthBuild program.