Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for the new position that I accepted with United Way through my service enlistment in the AmeriCorps Vista program. AmeriCorps is a federal government program that seeks to serve the various needs of our country (public education, environmental clean up, etc.) through volunteer service. The Vista program in particular, focuses on poverty. And you all know I’ve experienced living in poverty for the last six years.
This opportunity was a perfect fit.
So I kissed my babies and left them in the care of their father and god-mother, and headed to Chicago for our 4-day Pre-Service Orientation. I couldn’t have imagined how invaluable an experience this would turn out to be. Over the next four days I connected with beautiful, passionate people from across the country. I forged new friendships, shared new experiences and developed a greater appreciation for my personal struggle with poverty.
During one of the sessions with our amazing facilitator, Elaine Williams, one of our class mates revealed that she was a triathlete and went on to share a story with us. One time she started going to a community recreation center in preparation for a swimming event. While there, she observed a woman who was learning to swim and clung tightly to the pool wall. Six months later, that woman would go on to compete in the same race that our class mate had, and end up finishing ahead of her. Our classmate was so happy for her progress and the story ultimately went on to provide great inspiration for me:
Baby steps are steps none-the-less; it simply comes down to a matter of your determination and commitment to fulfill your dream.
Having just graduated from college and feeling like I had competed in a triathlon my damn self, I identified with that woman who conquered what she set out to do–and I hope that if you haven’t already, you’ll get to experience that same gratification.
The four days ended with our swearing-in ceremony and my feeling even more proud that I rose to the challenge to serve my country and my community.
I am officially an AmeriCorps member and a United Way Vista.
As you can imagine, I departed from Chicago eager to serve and to make good use of my past struggles.
Everything happens for a reason…my tears and feelings of shame and fear all of those years weren’t in vain. AmeriCorps and United Way are helping me to ensure that.
If you haven’t considered AmeriCorps Vista program, definitely check it out. The benefits are amazing, the experience is priceless and you get the opportunity to serve our country indefinitely.
Check out the gallery below that captures some of my Chi-Town adventures. I loved the city and more importantly, I LOVED THE PIZZA!
Up next: New York…
- Sincerely Syreeta