2016-02-17

by Patrick Brower, AmeriCorps member serving on the Boston Civic Engagement team

AmeriCorps came to me in a moment in life where I needed a change. I was 24 years old, a little lost, and unsure about my next move.  I was working a job that paid well, and that made my mother happy, but I was unable to find solace where she found joy. After meeting a friend in City Year Philadelphia a few years after college the thought of giving a year began to surface.

My initial introduction to AmeriCorps was in college with corps members serving with the Saint Bernard Project in New Orleans while I was on a service trip. These corps members exposed me to AmeriCorps and through them I learned about the national service movement. After returning home from that trip the idea intrigued me but I decided to wait until I was finished with college before giving a year.

I was fortunate enough to receive a promotion directly after college and the thought of serving began to fade away. Then when I was re-introduced to AmeriCorps and City Year while I was living in Philadelphia, the thought resurfaced. City Year was the perfect storm I had been looking for—a  blend of national service that I had been considering, with a focus on education that I had studied in college.

After talking to recruiters in Philadelphia I found out that at 25 I would be too old to serve the upcoming year. To my surprise they pointed me to City Year Boston, it was the only site in the network that allowed someone at 25 to serve. I applied.

It's a question I've heard all too many times since applying:  “Why would you leave a well paying job for an AmeriCorps stipend?" Indeed, everyone from family members to old co-workers have been curious. For this answer I’ll borrow a quote from a truly inspiring human.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Mahatma Gandhi

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