My name is Hannah Frome and I’m a Texas transplant serving as Pima County Public Library’s Early Childhood Education Coordinator. I originally decided to pursue AmeriCorps because as a new graduate during a pandemic, my plans to start a position abroad had been made impossible and I felt in need of a break before beginning graduate school. AmeriCorps VISTA seemed like the perfect way for me to maximize a gap year, building quality professional experience doing work that resonated with me. I felt I needed more relevant hard skills and proven capabilities to boost my resume, but I wanted the work I did to matter. I chose to pursue opportunities with Arizona Serve because of the member benefits—the civic leadership training program, the housing allowance, and the beautiful location — and was thrilled to receive an offer from the library. Honestly, I was a little nervous about accepting the position. I felt underqualified, uncertain if it was the right fit for my goals, and several trusted friends advised me not to take it for those reasons. I took a deep breath and did it anyway. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
Volunteer service has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, stretched my skills, and been deeply personally fulfilling. In addition to the community needs assessment I was brought on to do, I’ve been able to take on additional responsibilities including coordinating COVID test kit distribution with the health department, writing a litany of online courses for library staff, and working with the library’s Welcome to America team to support the needs of refugees and immigrants in Tucson. I’ve also been able to actualize my passion project, building a digital network map and database of stakeholders in collaboration with the regional early childhood coalition, supported by United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. My supervisors both at my service site and within AmeriCorps have been unilaterally encouraging and eager to create opportunities for me in my interest areas. I love the work I do, and knowing that it matters and will help the community makes it the easiest it’s ever been to go to work in the morning. Additionally, being surrounded by dedicated, selfless people doing incredible work has been unexpectedly healing after the past few years of seeing so much bad.
Beyond my volunteer service, being part of AmeriCorps has provided me with additional opportunities, from a full scholarship to earn a Nonprofit Leadership & Management Certificate from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management to working on the Communications committee for the Southern Arizona Volunteer Management Association. For the first time, I feel like I have a professional network that I’ll take with me after I leave this position.
AmeriCorps service has prepared me for the next phase of my career beyond what I had hoped. In the course of my service, I have been exposed to ideas that led me to a different direction for graduate school (Public Affairs-Development Practice) and the beginnings of a thesis (addressing and preventing community trauma through participatory, asset-based development). I directly credit my volunteer service with facilitating my admission into every master’s program I applied for, one of which has offered me a full scholarship on top of a discount for being an AmeriCorps alum. However, more than the professional and educational benefits, my AmeriCorps service has helped me find my confidence and get my joy back. That’s a benefit of service I never could have imagined.
What About You?
Wondering what to do after high school or college? For a gap year, like Hannah? Need professional or personal direction? Or are figuring out what to do after retirement? Serving as an AmeriCorps member through Arizona Serve may be the right thing for you!
Or do you want to grow your non-profit or public entity? Do you need help with accessing or developing community development resources? Hosting an Arizona Serve member like the Pima County Library may be the right start for you!