This week is AmeriCorps Week, a seven-day stretch where AmeriCorps members and alums are honored for their commitment to service.
AmeriCorps’ mission to address communities’ critical needs intersects with Family Promise’s mission to serve families experiencing homelessness through a community-based response. Several Family Promise Affiliates nationwide employ AmeriCorps members and hire alums for full-time positions.
Below, two current Family Promise employees reflect on their time at AmeriCorps and how it prepared them for their respective roles at Family Promise.
Name: Maggie Bernhard
Current Position: Affiliate Services Associate, Family Promise
AmeriCorps Placement: Jersey Cares and Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania
As an AmeriCorps member, I was encouraged to dive in, get messy, and do whatever I could to support the organization where I was serving. Our goal was to make lasting change wherever we went.
This mentality led to some of my favorite work experiences: creating an archive of theatre programs all the way back to the 1920s, designing and painting murals all across New Jersey, planting community gardens, sorting through thousands of donated coats, and even creating checklists to make sure we didn’t forget sign-in sheets.
I have continued to be driven by these same goals through my work at Family Promise. Instead of sorting through coats, I am now sorting through data, and instead of creating volunteer checklists, I am creating resources for Affiliates.
The community I am serving now is a little bigger than the communities I served through AmeriCorps, but it is still my goal to do whatever I can to support the organization and make a lasting impact.
AmeriCorps, above everything else, was a chance to get messy. It was a chance for me to learn what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to social media marketing, search engine optimization, grant-writing, graphic design, sponsorships, public speaking, television interviews, public relations, compassionate service, and so much more!
My experience left me convinced the best way to learn these things is by doing them and being willing to learn through mistakes.
Family Promise of Great Falls provided all these opportunities and more. Even better, these activities were contextualized under the challenge of helping the Affiliate slowly shift its image in the public from ‘just another homeless shelter’ to ‘ending childhood homelessness, one family at a time,’ as part of a nation-wide network.