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Why AmeriCorps Is Worth It

November 16, 2012

As part of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week (Nov 10th-18th), we’re sharing an excerpt of Ryan Wilcox‘s original blog post from October 8, 2012.

Recently, United We Serve published a blog post entitled “Was AmeriCorps Worth It?”, by Rachel Ogorek. Rachel shares her AmeriCorps experience as her service comes to a close. As I read Rachel’s reflections, I started thinking about my own AmeriCorps VISTA service–asking that question of myself.

I particularly identified with this line:

I know the skills I developed through AmeriCorps will help me be a better employee and a lifelong community member. My work challenged me to invest in a new community, allowed me to develop new relationships, and encouraged me to find innovative ways to tackle community problems.

Looking back on my own service experience, I can say it was worth it. I served as a VISTA with Cornerstone Assistance Network, a non-profit that meets the needs of people struggling with poverty in Tarrant County. Before my service, I had little direct knowledge of homelessness as a social problem, and relied on my perceptions.

The truth is, the reasons for homelessness are varied. I learned during my service year that everyone has a story, even the homeless man you pass on the street. We are all one or two wrong moves, or an economic downtown, away from needing help.

In my role as a VISTA, I had the opportunity to interview current and former clients, who shared their stories of struggle and triumph. In every case, I found a sense of gratitude, despite adversity.

I established a social media presence for the agency and was a key member of the website development team. Looking back, I take pride in my external relations role, helping Cornerstone tell its story online.

I’m proud that these contributions continue to live on after my service.

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