Pathfinders Blog

Stories about our youth, Pathfinders news, and more.

Staff Perspective

AmeriCorps Opportunity Opens Doors AND Eyes

Last spring, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. That moment came when I crossed the stage, shook hands with the dean, and adulthood began. It took a lot of work, time, mistakes, and silliness to have that moment come to fruition. As quickly as I crossed the stage, there was the realization that there was much more work to be done. Like many millennials, I asked, “what’s next?”. I do not know why I felt a degree equated to finality. I spent the following three months working my “Summer Job,” of the previous three years and searched for my next gig. Then I stumbled upon AmeriCorps.

Before I received my degree, I had my final semester acquiring my hours necessary for my field work requirement. Therefore, my last semester was spent in the field rather than in the classroom like every other semester. I looked at a list of places that UW-Whitewater gave me, and I picked Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center rather randomly. I spent four months there, briefly running into the StreetBeat workers who said, “Check out our website if you want to be our AmeriCorps member next year.” I did a ride along with Street Beat, and I knew I wanted to be there. I thought about what value this so-called AmeriCorps position may offer. An education award, experience (post-graduation, I quickly realized it’s importance), and some networking connections. To be frank, despite wanting to be at StreetBeat, I still was not convinced about AmeriCorps. Now halfway through my AmeriCorps year, I can say it was the best decision I could have made at that point in my life. The revelation of the beauty of AmeriCorps has nothing to do with the education award, connections, or pay. It has everything to do with the experience of interacting and seeing people that I have never would have crossed paths with.

I grew up just beyond the suburbs of Milwaukee in a rural small town. Most people grow up there and remain there, or relatively close to the area. Most political chat is prefaced by pulling ones self-up by their bootstraps. We all have to come from somewhere. I never felt like I totally fit in back home. With that said, “back home,” is not that far away. Approximately, 30 miles away from my hometown are the poorest areas in Milwaukee. In these areas, I serve in AmeriCorps, with the most resourceful, resilient, and strong people I have ever encountered. These people face challenges on a daily basis, challenges that are unheard of, just a county away.

There’s an important word I just used when describing the youth, I serve; People. At a time when information is constantly being waved in front of our faces, it is easy to forget that there are real people suffering. Amongst the complexity of the many issues we face in Milwaukee, we need to tap the potential that is there. What does that entail? Simply, revealing to our youth their own self-worth. The process of letting someone know they matter is by actually interacting and connecting with these unheard voices. My connection with the many beautiful folks I have met starts with AmeriCorps. It gave me an opportunity to come from somewhere, and be part of elsewhere. For that, I am incredibly grateful and humbled to serve the youth I do as an AmeriCorps member.

Staff Perspective

AmeriCorps Opportunity Opens Doors AND Eyes

Last spring, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. That moment came when I crossed the stage, shook hands with the dean, and adulthood began. It took a lot of work, time, mistakes, and silliness to have that moment come to fruition. As quickly as I crossed the stage, there was the realization that there was much more work to be done. Like many millennials, I asked, “what’s next?”. I do not know why I felt a degree equated to finality. I spent the following three months working my “Summer Job,” of the previous three years and searched for my next gig. Then I stumbled upon AmeriCorps.

Before I received my degree, I had my final semester acquiring my hours necessary for my field work requirement. Therefore, my last semester was spent in the field rather than in the classroom like every other semester. I looked at a list of places that UW-Whitewater gave me, and I picked Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center rather randomly. I spent four months there, briefly running into the StreetBeat workers who said, “Check out our website if you want to be our AmeriCorps member next year.” I did a ride along with Street Beat, and I knew I wanted to be there. I thought about what value this so-called AmeriCorps position may offer. An education award, experience (post-graduation, I quickly realized it’s importance), and some networking connections. To be frank, despite wanting to be at StreetBeat, I still was not convinced about AmeriCorps. Now halfway through my AmeriCorps year, I can say it was the best decision I could have made at that point in my life. The revelation of the beauty of AmeriCorps has nothing to do with the education award, connections, or pay. It has everything to do with the experience of interacting and seeing people that I have never would have crossed paths with.

I grew up just beyond the suburbs of Milwaukee in a rural small town. Most people grow up there and remain there, or relatively close to the area. Most political chat is prefaced by pulling ones self-up by their bootstraps. We all have to come from somewhere. I never felt like I totally fit in back home. With that said, “back home,” is not that far away. Approximately, 30 miles away from my hometown are the poorest areas in Milwaukee. In these areas, I serve in AmeriCorps, with the most resourceful, resilient, and strong people I have ever encountered. These people face challenges on a daily basis, challenges that are unheard of, just a county away.

There’s an important word I just used when describing the youth, I serve; People. At a time when information is constantly being waved in front of our faces, it is easy to forget that there are real people suffering. Amongst the complexity of the many issues we face in Milwaukee, we need to tap the potential that is there. What does that entail? Simply, revealing to our youth their own self-worth. The process of letting someone know they matter is by actually interacting and connecting with these unheard voices. My connection with the many beautiful folks I have met starts with AmeriCorps. It gave me an opportunity to come from somewhere, and be part of elsewhere. For that, I am incredibly grateful and humbled to serve the youth I do as an AmeriCorps member.