AmeriCorps: A Choice to Serve

Posted on: March 16, 2015Florida

Early in my training, I was told that the AmeriCorps experience is a unique one. Few people understand what we do or why we commit a year or more of our lives to the program. Most people are even unaware that we exist. We can not be classified as employees, volunteers, interns, or students because the roles we fill are so much more than these titles can encompass. As the seventh month of my service term is drawing to a close, I am realizing what it really means to serve as an AmeriCorps member. I am also realizing the challenge of wanting to do more while under the restraint of time, available resources, and ones own abilities.

For the individuals who are considering joining the Health Corps, I challenge you to ask yourself "why?" There are many ways to fill a gap year, "in between" years, or even your "I don't know what I'm doing here" years. A year of service should not be viewed as a last resort, but instead as a choice.

A choice to sacrifice your time and energy for the benefit of others. A choice to step outside of your comfort zone. A choice to use your skills and talents to serve others. A choice to do what you can (whether a lot or a little). A choice to accept that there will be moments of frustration, but also sweet, glorious moments of realization that remind you of why you chose to venture out to begin with.

I chose to serve a year as an AmeriCorps member when I realized that I desired to improve the lives of others more than my own. Since beginning my service term at UF Health as a Women's Outreach Services Associate, I have had a number of "sweet, glorious" moments. Just past eight o’clock one morning, I was already feeling behind in my day while I walked down a deserted hall in the OB clinic. Wrapped up in my thoughts, I suddenly overheard one of the most beautiful sounds: a mother listening to her baby's heartbeat for the first time. In the midst of the mayday of my morning, I was reminded of why I chose to serve, and why I chose to leave a job I loved to take on the frustrations and challenges of my new position.

During these seven months I have had the opportunity to help expectant mothers choose a healthier lifestyle so that their babies have a greater chance of celebrating their first birthdays. I have also had the chance of being a part of a support system for women facing difficult and high risk pregnancies.

As an AmeriCorps North Florida Health Corps member you will have the opportunity to take on many roles, more than you can imagine. A year of service is more than a 9 to 5 job, and it requires more than just a desire "to do some good." At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding adventures you may embark on, not only for yourself but for the people and community you choose to serve.