Today's blog "From the Vault" was written last year by Micah Villanueva who served on the Friends of Andrew Jackson High School team during the 2015-2016 school year. Read on for an inside look into her perspective of what it takes to serve as an AmeriCorps Member.
Are you considering joining City Year? Or perhaps you are thinking of taking a gap year to serve with AmeriCorps Vista, or the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) or another AmeriCorps program? In any case, considering giving a year of your life in serving America is huge, and it is commendable. Now, there are many questions that may be racing through your head as you seek to make this decision. In particular, you may simply be dying to know what is it like to actually be an AmeriCorps Member? So, as an AmeriCorps Summer Vista alum and current City Year AmeriCorps Member, here are 5 things that undoubtedly every AmeriCorps Member needs.
Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, you’re likely a Millennial. One of the expectations we have as Millennial is that we expect everything to happen now. Unfortunately, in the real world,especially in the world of non-profits and community building, that’s not how life works. Change takes a significant amount of time, resources, and planning. So don’t freak out that you’re not making a tangible difference right now. You are, it just might take a while to see the finished product. Work hard and enjoy the process.
Chances are that you will be working 50 hour weeks as an AmeriCorps Member. Even though you might have patience, you don’t have unlimited amounts of energy. Get used to drinking coffee, lots of it. Just make sure you don’t mess with that Folgers. If you’re going to have an addiction, have a good one. Café Yaucono es el mejor café!
Two things here. One, don’t be trippin’ on how little money you are making. You are an AmeriCorps Member – the wage is literally in the job description. You are giving a year of your life to service, so you are making a stipend, which is less than minimum wage. Be content with what you have this year. Two, stay focused on your purpose and mission. Your friends might be posting pictures of "the good life" on Facebook and spending on things you can't. That doesn’t matter. The work you do is enriching more people than you know and you have committed to this one year of service. Even though you’re fed up, you have to keep your head up!
4) Reliable Transportation
Figure it out. Whether it's bus, subway, bike, walking, or ride sharing, make it work for you. What you should not do is wake up the morning and panic about how you’re getting to work. Plan ahead and plan efficiently so that you can be on time each day.
5) Learn to Detach
As you get deeper into your term of service, it is easy to get so passionate about what you do that you carry these burdens with you and bring your problems home. Try to avoid that. It can be helpful to have somebody to vent to at home, but at the end of the day, for your sanity and the good of the work you do, let it go. Go for a run, spend time with friends, or read a book, do whatever works best for you. Detach and de-stress from the day, and take care of yourself so that you can be a better servant leader tomorrow!