"We have several students that come regularly to the after school program. One student in particular has not missed a day since Winter Break. I never thought to ask her about her stellar attendance. In all honesty as the number of students attending starting growing every day I failed to realize her perfect attendance. One day we had to cancel the after school program because of the flu bug going around. I was dying and needed to go home. The girl came up to me as I was leaving and made me swear up and down that we would have the program after school the next day. I was a little confused because the students were still able to work in the library for an hour after school even when there is no after school program. The next day I happened to run into her mother at the grocery store and mentioned this encounter. Her mother looked at me like I was stupid and said, 'Youíre the only person that ever understood how to help her. She canít do the work without you around.' I was astounded. No matter how low the attendance goes, I know that at least one student is being helped by the program."
~2009-10 Member from Missouri, serving at Lake Roosevelt High School in Grand Coulee
"My experience as an Americorps volunteer at SklllSource Learning Center has made a great impact on me. I've spent the last two years working for an organization that sees the poorest, least advantaged population here in the Wenatchee valley on a daily basis. Coming from a relatively comfortable, affluent background, it has truly been a humbling experience for me to work with homeless youth, youth in poverty, and youth with troubled family situations. Engaging those who have less, on a regular basis, has given me a priceless perspective that has changed my outlook significantly. Understanding, compassion, and patience have all been characteristics that I have improved on as an individual, and have come to understand what I means to 'get it'. To get what some people go through on a daily basis Ė for example a youth finding food for the day, or a place to sleep, or a way out of an abusive or drug addicting situation. My Americorps experience has changed me in a way that nothing can compare to Ė reading a book, watching a documentary, spending a day at the soup kitchen Ė these are only temporary understandings. Two years of working with a huge array of disadvantaged individuals gives you a passion for service; an understanding of what you must put in to it to truly make a difference.
The teaching aspect of my experience has also led me to goals to become a certified teacher in Washington. Perhaps I can come back to Skillsource or a similar basic education program and continue the work I started as an Americorps volunteer. With better training, better resources, and a teaching certificate, I know that I can make a long term difference in the lives of youth folks that are struggling in this community. "
~2010-12 Member from Iowa, serving at the SkillSource Learning Center in Wenatchee
"I remember the last day at my site, a staff member approached me and said that she can only imagine the amount of kids Iíve touched and inspired and without hesitation I responded, if anyone has been touched here, itís me. I am glad to say this is a chapter in my live that Iím glad to add and one day share with my kids."
~2008-10 Member from New York, serving at the Women's Resource Center in Wenatchee
"The one thing I absolutely love about being in my second year of AmeriCorps is that I have been working with some kiddos for the entire time. I started working with one girl who was in kindergarten last year and worked with her every day. I now work with her in her first grade class, not as often as I would like, but I am in her class everyday. I have been informed that her reading skills have skyrocketed recently. I know that I have been an instrumental part of her reading development because I have been there since day one. It feels good to know that my help directly affected her. I would have to say that any accomplishments my students make are accomplishments of mine. I don't succeed unless they succeed."
~2008-10 Member from Lake Stevens, WA, serving at Grant Elementary in East Wenatchee
"This has been the best year of my life. I have become a much better person, a more humbled and respectful person. I like who I am now more then ever. I have learned so much about myself this past year that I thought I already knew. I have also learned to really get to know people. To sit down with a person and let my thoughts concentrate on them and what they are saying and nothing else. Growth and change--two words that I thought I would not really use coming into this program. I thought that I maybe there would be a chance that some things would happen out here that I could learn from but I never thought that I would truly change and more importantly grow as a human being. I knew that I was moving into a different chapter of my life but I truly did not know just how much I was going to love where my life was going and who I was becoming."
~2008-9 Member from Bainbridge Island, WA, serving at the Literacy Council in Wenatchee
"I read an article recently in the New York Times about altruism as a version of selfishness, which is essentially true. People, including myself, help others because it makes them feel good. I think I felt guilty about that for a long time before realizing it is part of our makeup as people. Within AmeriCorps you work towards a goal of a certain number of hours rather than working more hours for more money. As a result I find myself volunteering wherever and whenever I can. I joke to my parents that I am a ďprofessional volunteer.Ē But all jokes aside, Iíve become connected to my local library, humane society, Red Cross, various schools, and other organizations because of this requirement; I feel rooted in and needed by my community. As a result of my experience with AmeriCorps I will always volunteer in the communities I find myself in in the future. The concept of lifelong service was always a somewhat abstract idea to me, and I feel now as if it is concrete, which I believe has been the greatest lesson of all."
~2009-10 Member from Wisconsin, serving at Paul Rumburg Elementary in Entiat
My AmeriCorps experience has been more influential than I ever expected a ten and a half month program to be. Admittedly, I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started with Intermountain AmeriCorps back in September. But then again, there is no real way to explain the wealth of experiences that AmeriCorps has been. I have been frustrated and outraged one day, but the next encouraged and excited by my students' success. As a result of my AmeriCorps experience I have become a fuller person. I realize that the term 'fuller person' doesn't really make any sense and I'm sure that I breaking some grammatical rule when I say that, but it's true. I have had the opportunity to work with individuals and segments of the population I would never otherwise have interacted with. I can now appreciate the struggle of the impoverished, not just from working with them, but from being one as well. AmeriCorps forced me out of my perfect little middle class bubble where one of the worst things that ever happened to me was that I didn't get into the honors program at my college. There is so much more to life than I was aware of, and every day I am thankful for the opportunities I have had, especially for the opportunity to be part of Intermountain AmeriCorps. I plan on continuing my community service work in the future, whether that be serving with AmeriCorps again or even just lending a helping hand to those in my community.
~2011-12 Member from California, serving at the Wenatchee Valley College WorkFirst Program