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What Fosters Community, Self-Awareness, Passion, and Purpose?

August 14, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from  alums who gained a sense of community, self-awareness, passion, and  purpose through AmeriCorps, and who shared stories on twenty.americorpsalums.orgThis is our sixth blog in the #Iamthe20th series! While our awards nominations deadline has passed, we are still collecting AmeriCorps Alums stories to celebrate throughout the year. Do you want your AmeriCorps program or Alums chapter to be featured next? It’s easy! Take a picture with our #Iamthe20th sign, post it on social media with the hashtag #Iamthe20th, and email your blog to!


Paula Grisales

Paula Grisales PicWhy did you share a story on

I, Paula Grisales, was born and raised in Colombia; I am married with two children and two lovely dogs. My family is the most important part of my life; it is a blessing, gift, and my biggest source of inspiration to become a better human being and a more competent professional. Helping others to ameliorate their quality of life has also always driven my passion to continue to advance in my studies and in every aspect of my life.

I decided to share my story because people need to know the positive impact the Corporation for National and Community Service – AmeriCorps – has on individuals, communities and society as a whole.  I feel blessed for all the amazing people I met and for all the wonderful things I learned while helping others!  I feel very proud to say that I learned to give the best of myself no matter the situation and strive for excellence and care for others. I want to inspire people to serve and promote positive changes in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

Where did you serve and where are you now?

THEN:  I served as a Public Ally (AmeriCorps) and was placed as a full time intern at the Community Investment Department of the Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) in Orlando, FL. As a Public Ally I had the opportunity to participate in rigorous leadership training activities, and I was able to support the Public Allies Team Service Project with Foster Kids and Foster Youth from Central Florida through research and other volunteering activities. As a Financial Stability Outreach Coordinator, I contributed to the enhancement of the Prosperity Campaign of the HFUW by doing community outreach. I connected residents of targeted low-income areas of Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, to programs and services of the HFUW to help improve their financial stability. I identified community partners and created new partnerships for the Prosperity Campaign of the HFUW in the Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. I supported public relations and activities of the HFUW, and extended the number of people being served by its programs in low-income areas of Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. I also developed and delivered public presentations.

NOW:  I am still pursuing a PhD in Public Health/Epidemiology and I am the Clinical Manager of my own Wellness Center. I am also the developer and the manager of a program sponsored by my Wellness Center called “For My Heart – Por Mi Corazon – Pour Mon Coeur”, which is a Family-Centered Self-Management (FCSM) program in chronic diseases especially designed to empower patients and their families to positively affect their health. The program offers a wide number of advantages through all the interventions I created to improve self-regulation behavior thus reduce risk factors for chronic diseases. There’s no charge to participate and people don’t have to be sick since the program also seeks to provide all the necessary tools to lead positive behavioral changes in individuals and communities.

Success does not necessarily mean accumulating as many titles as possible; dedication with hard work, actions and contributions to the society, are what I consider the most important parts of success.   I wish to continue my education to develop higher skills and gain new knowledge to expand the scope of treatment for my patients, but also to keep making positive contributions to the entire society.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

Always fulfill your missions with passion!

Leah Duran

Leah DuranWhy did you share a story on

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel small and insignificant in the face of the many challenges the world faces. Sharing stories of our impact helps us draw inspiration from one another and see the greater collective impact of individual actions.

Where did you serve, and where are you now?

THEN:  Grand Canyon National Park, Student Conservation (SCA) Association Habitat Restoration Intern (2010); SCA Massachusetts, 10-Month AmeriCorps Member (2009-2010); and Montezuma Castle & Tuzigoot National Monuments, SCA Interpretation Intern, 2009

Now: Interpretation Administrative Assistant, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in 6 words.

Hard work creates community, self-awareness

Lindy Smalt

LindySmalt.Iamthe20thWhy did you share a story on

When I joined my first AmeriCorps program after college, I had no idea it would turn into a lifelong career. One of the coolest things about AmeriCorps and national service is that there really is a place for everyone, whether you are passionate about education, public health, the environment, or something else entirely! Going into AmeriCorps, I think my biggest misconception was that service was something people “did”, but now I see it as much more of a mindset. There are small opportunities to serve others and my community every day. AmeriCorps taught me to recognize those opportunities and utilize them to help make a better world.

Where did you serve and where are you now?

Then: I served as a Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow in Massachusetts from 2010-2012. I tutored 6th graders on math skills and taught extracurricular classes like Girl Scouts and Forensic Accounting!  I then become a Teach For America corps member in Chicago and taught 7th grade Reading from 2012-2014. My favorite moment was bringing over a hundred of my students to visit Wheaton College, my alma mater.

Now: After 4 years in AmeriCorps, I am now the national AmeriCorps recruiter at Teach For America. I help other AmeriCorps volunteers and alums continue their national service by becoming classroom teachers. I love talking with alums interested in teaching over email!

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

Students make every day worth it.

Rebecca Bateman

Rebecca Bateman

Why did you share a story on

I want everyone to know how valuable and enriching national service can be and that individuals can be so powerful in the right circumstances.

Where did you serve?

I came from 8 years in the corporate world, and I recently finished up my service term with Our City Forest in San Jose, CA.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

It’s made me a better person.

Taylor Van Denburgh

Taylor Van Denburgh pic.Iam205hWhy did you share a story on

Well I won a career counseling session from filling out AmeriCorps Alums national survey, and then they asked me to write a post:-). Seriously though, I am proud to be an AmeriCorps Alumni. I take every opportunity to share what an amazing experience I had during my time of service.

Where did you serve, and where are you now?

THEN: I did two years of service with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (TCHFH). My first year with the A Brush With Kindness program, and my second year with the Homebuilding program. I’m recently finished my term as a TCHFH employee.

NEXT: After AmeriCorps, I did a year as a intern and then became the HR Admin Assistant for a year. After almost four years, I am leaving the Habitat nest and moving onto my next adventure! I’ll be doing speaking for Mpls Business College, kind of acting as a recruiter for the school. I’ll also be the Volunteer Coordinator for a nursing home. Volunteering is still near and dear to my heart.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

I came into my own.

Adam Greenberg

I am the 20th - Adam GreenbergWhy did you share a story on

I shared because the efforts of AmeriCorps members and alums make a difference. And it makes a difference in us. It’s important work ,and you can learn more about what it meant to me in this video.

Where did you serve, and where are you now?

THEN: AmeriCorps NCCC (Class 14) and AmeriCorps NCCC (Team Leader, Class 18)

NOW: Native English Teacher, Gwangju, South Korea

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

Learned to do work that matters.

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