Teammates for Life: An Interview from Serve Reflect Repeat

Jarrad Plante is one of 20+ authors for Serve Reflect Repeat, a collection of stories from AmeriCorps Alumni across the country.  Listen to learn more about how service lead him into life long friendships and meeting the love of his life.

Note: all the proceeds from the sale of Serve Reflect Repeat benefit the NGS movement.

Heart Hot, Head Cold: An Interview from Serve Reflect Repeat

Samantha Mairson is one of 20+ authors for Serve Reflect Repeat, a collection of stories from AmeriCorps Alumni across the country.  Listen to learn more about her journey from liberal arts school to fighting forest fires to hiking the Appalachian trail.

Note: all the proceeds from the sale of Serve Reflect Repeat benefit the NGS movement.

Carolina Giraldo’s Journey to AmeriCorps

CarolinaMy passion has always been people and being able to lend a listening ear to a troubled mind was what I believed I was naturally gifted at. In reality, it probably just developed throughout the several years I spent as a crying shoulder to quite a few folks. This may be the dominant reason why I chose to obtain my B.S. in Psychology. But, after participating in an Alternative Spring Break back in 2011, I became enamored with this whole concept of service. I served with a group of 8 lovely ladies in Charlotte, NC with Stop Hunger Now. I will never forget the valuable experience I gained from this trip because it helped me see a different side of non-profit work, not to mention the fact that we provided much needed assistance to this wonderful humanitarian aid organization. It was during this service project that I met a VISTA and learned about AmeriCorps. I decided, while still a junior at UCF (University of Central Florida), I would apply for AmeriCorps once I graduated in 2012. I knew I wanted to serve while traveling so I applied to NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). The new collaboration between FEMA and NCCC came into existence in 2012 so I got to serve in the North Central Region inaugural FEMA Corps class.

Needless to say, this was one of the best choices I’ve made. Throughout the ten months of service, there were many treacherous mountains to climb, but I enjoyed the opportunity of serving on a national level with disaster relief such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy along with 10 other people. I felt like I grew so much throughout those ten months that it gave me the confidence to apply for a VISTA position I wasn’t sure I was qualified enough for. In 2013, I left my life as a FEMA-NCCC Corps member behind and excitedly took on my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA. For a year, I worked as the (brace yourself for the long title) “AmeriCorps VISTA Veterans Helping Veterans Program Specialist” at a nonprofit organization back home called Impact Broward. I was given the task of updating: programmatic policies & procedures, recruitment literature, training material and lists of community contacts as well as recruiting, training, and assigning Veteran mentors with mentees. I’m assuming my work was well received since I was promoted to Veterans Helping Veterans Program Coordinator (my current occupation) after my VISTA year ended this past July. I am now excited to be able to share my passion for service, whether domestically or internationally, with all of you who come on board with the NGS movement and hope to do my best as a guide.

Before AmeriCorps NCCC by Stephen Azuogu

StephenBefore AmeriCorps NCCC, I was a part-time YMCA youth mentor finishing up my last year of college. I went to California State University-Fullerton pursuing my B.A. in Ethnic Studies with an Emphasis in African-American Studies. This major was an interdisciplinary degree that involved philosophy, history, and creative writing but in the simplest form, it was “the study of different cultures.” Whenever I tell people about my major, they give this misconstrued face and most of the times say, “What are you going to do with that? Do you want to be a teacher?” I was truly grateful of my major and knew the value of my education, but the reality set in that there were no concrete working skills or high job demand that I can get from my studies at that time.

I was going in to my last semester of college and I started to brainstorm on what to do for job experience and/or career exploration. My experience with the YMCA was great and I loved working there, but I wanted to explore other options. Typical things you should do as a college junior and senior is utilize your Resource Centers as much as possible for job postings and internships. My counselor told me to look into internship opportunities because this is a great way to network and gain relevant work experience. Throughout the school year, I attended various career expos, resume workshops and business affiliations, but it was only when I went online and applied for AmeriCorps NCCC-FEMA Corps, that things were starting to change for the better.

After November 21th 2014, I will have committed my time in AmeriCorps NCCC-FEMA Corps for 2 service terms. FEMA Corps is a partnership with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, bringing in young people aged 18-24 to commit 10 months or 1700 hours of national volunteering service. The program is team-based and members were given benefits like free travel, room and board, and real-world experiences. I was part of the first class of FEMA Corps Class 19 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. During that service year, I responded to Hurricane Sandy doing FEMA related work in New Jersey and New York. The highlight of that year was living on a Coast Guard training ship (Empire State 5) for a month in Bronx, New York.

As I write this piece, I will be finishing up my last months as a FEMA Corps Team Leader. The AmeriCorps program as a whole has been one of the greatest experiences ever in my life. I have done rewarding work for my country, traveled in beautiful US states, and met with remarkable people that I call friends this day and beyond. After AmeriCorps NCCC, I am given much more options to explore and a clearer sense of what my goals are personally and professionally.

Lindsey Tarr’s Letter Collage

“Don’t die for a cause, live for one”

Lindsey Tarr was an NCCC member and later team leader. Known for her inspirational leadership, she asked her team to write letters to one another after their of service. The words are powerful and moving, capturing the brotherhood/sisterhood that accompanies service.