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AmeriSaur: The hand me down couch

March 26, 2010

Couch- a piece of upholstered furniture required for Sunday afternoon napping, often expensive.

 I haven’t had a proper couch for the better part of 5 years.  As I enjoy nothing more than a pleasant nap on a Sunday afternoon this is a problem. About two years ago I purchased a nice, but cheep, futon and that has been my substitute couch. While the futon and I get along just fine, my friends all hate my futon with a passion and fury that is unequaled. Between car payments, rent, occasional meals at Burgerville, and a reduction in my salary I haven’t been able to afford a proper couch and thus my friends have stopped coming over for movie night. On Wednesday this all changed… one of my friends was moving out of her house and was selling her couch and love seat for a ridiculously reduced price. Today I am the proud owner of a new couch and love seat. As happy as I am with my couch and love seat I was forced to look around at my apartment and take inventory: TV – given to me by a friend, dining room table – given to me by a friend, dinning room chairs – Salvation Army, desk – given to me when a roommate couldn’t afford her last month’s rent. My apartment is a collection of other people’s hand me downs. While I am grateful that I have amazing friends I am still somewhat bitter that I can’t afford to buy anything new. Then I get all get all bitter and depressed because I have these materialistic urges.

 Money has become a major factor in my choice to look for a new job and ultimately leave National Service. At my current salary I am living pay check to pay check and will never be able to either pay off my student loans or purchase a house (both goals of mine). I’ve seen this time and time again talented project supervisors leave National Service because they can’t make a living. In my region project supervisors last three years if they are really passionate or last two years on average.

People typically leave because our jobs are a combination of high stress, low support, and low pay. To me this is a problem! In my experience AmeriCorps programs thrive and survive because they are able to match the right applicant to programs that can best utilize their needs and offer the correct mixture of challenge and support. Talented project supervisor’s are an important and often overlook piece of a successful AmeriCorps program and yet our jobs are unsustainable. But then I have moments when I see one of my AmeriCorps members have a break through with one of their students and I think how could I possibly walk away from this?

Passion verses practicality, my internal debate. Am I okay with minimizing my life goals and dreams for a job that I love? At one point in time I would have said yes, now I am not so sure. I guess I will ponder these questions on my hand-me-down couch and be grateful that I have amazing friends, a job, and a good place to nap.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 9:26 am

    These are important questions to ask. Sometimes choosing a life of nonprofit work feels like a balancing act from a financial perspective. How can you do a job you love and feel is meaningful AND support a family, etc. It’s tough.

  2. March 26, 2010 2:02 pm

    Kurt, this is fantastic! Congrats on your new furniture! My house is also decorated with the salvaged remains of other people’s homes including many items I’ve gotten from dumpster diving. It is sad to me that we in the project supervisor’s community lose great people over the years to better paying jobs. I love my new role as program manager because I still get to interact with members and hear those great stories, plus now I get to work with a fantastic team of supervisors. I hope that someday there is something like that for you out there!

  3. Eilidh Lowery permalink
    March 26, 2010 2:26 pm

    This is so good. As a former supervisor I think you get it exactly right!


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