From AmeriCorps Job Ready to MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA: defining what it means to volunteer

“Knowing that you are helping to create a peaceful world and a safer planet is only a fraction of the pride that a volunteer should feel every time they lend a helping hand.
To volunteer; is to contribute your goodness and works to humanity unselfishly, without seeking any rewards.”

~Author Unknown

My journey as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA is unique because I am the youngest in my twenty-five person corps and I am a student at the school I am serving. A little over a year ago, I would have never envisioned myself in the position that I am in now. After three semesters in college, I decided to take some time off from school and make enough money to return. While I was working about eighty hours a week across four part time jobs, I received a phone call from a previous employer of mine. She said “Kat, I think I have a great opportunity for you. It’s something called AmeriCorps.  A position just opened up in my office and I would love for you to apply.” Little did I know that phone call and the steps taken after were going to change my life forever.

I served a full year of service with AmeriCorps Job Ready and dedicated 1700 hours to the Upward Bound Program at Fitchburg State University. During this time I was also a full time student at Mount Wachusett Community College and working a part time job at a local pizza restaurant. With Upward Bound I was serving a range of students from incoming freshmen in high school to incoming freshmen in college. My goal was to get these students on the right track to secondary education by providing them with tours and information sessions at colleges and universities of their choice. My first year as an AmeriCorps member was so great that when my supervisor told me of an opening for the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA position at Mount Wachusett Community College, I didn’t hesitate to apply.

In the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement at Mount Wachusett Community College, we are committed to promoting social change through innovative partnerships and programming by engaging students, faculty, and staff with the community. We do this through service learning, volunteerism, internships, co-ops, and civic outreach. I have had the opportunity over the past few months to reach out to existing and hopeful community partners to participate in the service learning component of our brand new general studies capstone course, ISC 220. I have been working directly with the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster as well as the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center of both Gardner and Winchendon to increase their capacity for our incoming students.

I have become an active member of Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) as the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA for the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, a student, member of the Student Government Association, member of the International Club, volunteer for the Veterans Center, and a participant of the Leadership for Life series. I wouldn’t change my experiences here for the world and there is an extensive list of supportive people to thank for that.  Most importantly, my supervisors here at MWCC, my Corps members, the Corps leaders, and the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA Program Director have truly inspired me to take my learning experiences from VISTA and apply them to both my education and future plans.

Without AmeriCorps Job Ready and AmeriCorps MACC *VISTA I would have never followed my education down the path of Human Services. I am truly happy with the environment here at Mount Wachusett Community College because I am surrounded by supervisors and peers who are driven, supportive, and passionate. In May of 2014 I will be graduating with a degree in Human Services and I have AmeriCorps to thank for that. I am very much looking forward to continuing the rest of my journey as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA here at MWCC and helping to create more sustainable community partners for the general studies capstone course.

Kathleen Craigen

MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA

Mount Wachusett Community College

In partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg/Leominster and Clark Memorial YMCA

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