Mike Dummeyer-I stumbled on a quote via facebook today and thought it appropriate for the purpose of this writing. I’m not sure where it came from, but here it is:
"For the rest of your life, you will always be able to say I was a member of a very special team whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Since day one as a VISTA, the only thing I could think about was that it was finally my chance to do something worth doing, all the time. Something I felt was important for me to do, for both personal and professional reasons and something that I could be proud of. The thing is… I had no experience doing any of the things I was being asked to do. I had no experience organizing business owners, developing a mentor program or putting on a party for 20 on, let alone a conference. By the end of the year, I had help organized a conference with local, national and international presenters. Business owners and community leaders came together to launch a conference and they have since been developing the concept of Social Enterprise in the City of Billings, Montana. It was a year of growth and experiences that I will never forget and one which I am so thankful for. It gave me the inspiration to sign up for two more terms of service.
To say I’ve grown as a result of my AmeriCorps service would be a gross understatement. My final year of service was with a poverty relief center called the Coalition for Compassion and Justice. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to continue working with CCJ as a staff member, and I love it. Of course, I’ll accredit this opportunity to the year-long interview I had with CCJ via VISTA and the skill sets VISTA provided me to do well in that time.
Now, as an AmeriCorps Alum, I have the opportunity to work with an amazing person and AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Vanessa Silverstein. Together, we’ve worked on numerous efforts and special events (about eight so far) and in every instance she has far exceeded any expectations anyone had of her. She understands that her work is not just about making the programs succeed today; it’s about developing our capacity to continue to succeed after she leaves.
It would seem to me that whenever you’re working with VISTA, “you will always be able to say I was a member of a very special team whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and it was one of the greatest experience of my life.”