Why I Am Inspired By My AmeriFamily
Today’s post comes from Lisa Shipley (AmeriCorps ’09, ’10), President of the Indianapolis Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums
High energy, great healthy food (prepared by a YouthBuild Alum), and inspirational stories, YouthBuild USA Regional Conference, in Indianapolis, was the place to be on Friday, June 7, 2013. It was an all-day event that covered a variety of topics to help current members, and alums, to get thinking about “The Life After”. When I was contacted to conduct a Life After AmeriCorps training on behalf of the Indianapolis Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums I hadn’t known much about YouthBuild, but by the end of the day I walked away humbled, full of love and inspired by everyone’s stories.
For those that don’t know, YouthBuild USA is an AmeriCorps (AC) State/National program that supports youth in getting hands on experience, training and educational assistance. YouthBuild is also global! There are currently 61 YouthBuild Int’l programs sites operating in 13 countries with sites in planning states in an additional 10 countries. Regardless of where, the mission is still the same “to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of young people to rebuild their communities and their lives.” Without a doubt, the positive energy was present at the conference and their love of family could be felt, just by walking into the room.
Powerful stories were a theme throughout the day. Last year at this time, some YouthBuild AmeriCorps members were working the streets, while others were incarcerated or lived with family members involved in drugs. At this point last year, some members had NO HOPE. But now, since being introduced to YouthBuild, their lives have changed for the better. Though they still have struggles, they persevere knowing that they have the potential to excel positively. One student shared that she is going to retake her GED for a third time and is determined to pass. Another student shared that it wasn’t until YouthBuild that he had a role model who truly believed in him; though it took time, he now believes in himself and wants to be a chef.
I say time and time again how thankful I am for my AmeriFamily, and daily I am reminded how expansive it REALLY TRULY IS. Knowing more about YouthBuild and how much love they have for one another and their program, I’m all the more blessed to be a part of such a great family. Just as the members and alums of YouthBuild turn to one another for support and encouragement, so does the rest of our AmeriFamily. Whether it’s sharing resources and contacts, giving kudos for accomplishments, or extending thoughts, prayers & positive thoughts – we are and always will be there for one another. As we welcome the newest group of ‘AmeriCorps graduates’ into the AmeriCorps Alums network, and seek to continue to build bridges across the AmeriCorps network, it’s up to each of us to take an active part in spreading the word about AmeriCorps Alums. Jamiel Alexander, YouthBuild USA National Alumni Council President, said it best, “you’ve got to be the change!”