That AmeriCorps Moment
Today’s post comes from Mary Bruce (AmeriCorps 2000), Co-Executive Director of AmeriCorps Alums.
Our last newsletter shared that, for every AmeriCorps alum, there’s a moment from our service experience that sticks with us. It motivates us at unexpected times or brings a smile when we need it most. For me, this moment was in the winter of my service year when – on my meager living allowance – I put together small gift bags for Carlos, Corrisma, and a few of the students in the 4th grade classroom of the Washington D.C. public school where I served.
I remember carrying these small bags to school – but before I got there, I stopped, and cried, in the middle of the street. My gifts, though well-intentioned, were so small in comparison to the seemingly insurmountable odds these students faced in one of the worst schools in the country. Despite their smarts, these students were more likely to drop out than graduate. It was likely they would be shot before their 18th birthday. What good was a bag of crayons?
What motivated me to finish that walk to school – and continue a life of service – was that I wasn’t on the walk alone. I was on a team of 13 corps members, and had a network of neighborhood businesses, area nonprofits, friends, and family to think about how my 8 crayons could be multiplied into much, much more. So, I launched a “Spring into Reading” campaign to help connect neighborhood children to the literacy resources they needed – and raised enough to build a small library at a local youth center. I later replicated this initiative at Raising a Reader Massachusetts, which resulted in a 220% match on all individual and corporate donations.
That sense of purpose, tenacity, and teamwork that I learned in AmeriCorps still inspires me – and it inspires our work at AMERICORPS ALUMS each day and into 2014 and beyond.