After a full year of working at Gleaners and Operation Frontline, my AmeriCorps obligation will sadly end on May 12th. As many of you know, AmeriCorps is a federal program that poses a challenge to its volunteers – complete 1700 hours of service in a year, and you’ll get a living stipend, emergency-based health care, and $4725 to be used for educational expenses. Reflecting on those 1700 hours reveals how difficult that challenge really is: I was often tested with my financial limitations. With all of this, though, I found myself in a unique situation where I closely identified with the stories in the OFL classroom. Receiving food stamps myself, I felt much more personally attached to the mission of supporting a healthy lifestyle on a limited budget.
Of these 1700 hours, my favorite moments were those spent with participants, learning and being open to new experiences. I was fortunate enough to coordinate a Comer Bien class three blocks from my house, which provided a chance for me to connect with my Spanish-speaking neighbors in a way that I never had before.
I have also treasured meeting OFL volunteers and Gleaners staff, as well as the staff of neighboring organizations – people who are dedicated to improving the food system in our region. As affiliates of Gleaners, we have a powerful voice in shaping the public’s view of hunger, who is affected by it, and ways in which we can create sustainable solutions. I am proud to have been part of this conversation for a year, and I hope to continue creating meaningful discussions in the future.
Thanks, everyone, for a wonderful year!