We heard from Maureen Wolsburn, class of 2010, and asked her to tell us a bit about her Americorps experience. Here’s her report:
Working as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for Share Our Strength Colorado has been both rewarding and challenging. My job encompasses all aspects of non-profit work, from direct service teaching to fund development and partnership building. Being able to see the ins and outs of non-profit work has guided me to focus on what I really want my career to focus on in the future.
One large component of my work is fund development. Grant writing was something totally new to me and I quickly learned about the many differences from academic writing. Being succinct and to the point is critical since there is often a three-page limit for explaining the mission of an organization, their work in the community, and a complete financial history. But I learned to research, think critically, and argue a point with facts and statistics in CSOC, skills which have helped me to learn the grant writing ropes. I also now appreciate what it takes to keep an organization up and running, so the next time you think about donating, remember that every dollar counts! Non-profits rely on the generosity and commitment of the community.
I also work in community education, including youth farmer’s markets. Denver Public Schools (DPS) started a farmer’s market coalition to teach students about gardening and food systems. Teaching children about healthy fruits and vegetables has been an extremely rewarding experience. Many of the children I work with are tasting new foods, especially fruits and vegetables, every day. I have seen the power of educators, as well as the importance of introducing children to new opportunities at a young age.
Beyond my work with low-income families, AmeriCorps has truly taught me how to live with less. In particular, I have learned how difficult it can be to eat healthy on a limited budget, and I understand the strain these financial challenges can pose for working families. I’ve been careful and strategic with my own spending: this summer, it seems all my additional funds went to race entries, bike tune-ups, and other outdoor activities. I’ve enjoyed making Washington Park my “gym,” and I have really embraced being able to exercise outside every day – thanks to the Colorado sunshine. Overall, AmeriCorps has been more than a resume-building experience. It is truly character-building. It has pushed me to think outside my own comfort zone and, like so many other Americans, to live with less.
Great to hear from you, Maureen. And send some of that Colorado sunshine this way, please.