This week (March 9-17), we celebrate nationally the impact that AmeriCorps members have on communities across the country. What is AmeriCorps? AmeriCorps is a government program that addresses critical needs in areas all over the United States by placing thousands of adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. I am one of those AmeriCorps members, serving in the Milbridge community at Mano en Mano.
I joined AmeriCorps because I recognized it as a valuable opportunity to get to know another part of the U.S. and a new community. In September, I came to Milbridge from Michigan knowing no one and with no knowledge of the area. I wanted to meet a new, diverse community, make meaningful connections, and gain experience in a non-profit. During the five months I have been here, I have been able to explore many different areas of interest including teaching ESL, grant-writing, and coordinating programs, events, and volunteers. All of these skills are important abilities that I will utilize wherever I go next in my career.
Since September, I have helped to start the Mano en Mano Adult Education program, which offers regular Drop-in English classes and provides volunteering opportunities to the community. I coordinate the Spanish program for both interested individuals and local businesses, including Bayside Shop ‘n Save. I myself have also been working on learning Spanish so as to better serve our clients, an opportunity that definitely drew me to this particular AmeriCorps position. Additionally, I tutor high school students in the Migrant Education program, helping them to stay on track to graduate. I tutored one of my students in a self-directed math correspondence course which she finished, enabling her to graduate early! Planning cultural activities for the students at the EdGE after school program at Milbridge Elementary has also been both fun and educational.
As a member of the Great Strides Rural Education Corps, run by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, I am learning about the wonderful Downeast community and the great diversity and kindness that exist here. I am now more than halfway through my 1700 hours of service and learning something new every day about the power and benefits of getting involved in service and volunteering in one’s community.