|ISP at the animal shelter|
What can I say? Are there even sufficient words in the English language to express how I feel at this, the end of my 10-month AmeriCorps journey?
When I set out for Mississippi last August, I had no idea what the year ahead would hold. What I found were amazing friends, a new view point of our country, and a realization of who I really am and what I want out of life. How can I put those things into words? I suppose I can do naught but try.
As for the friends I’ve made, I speak mainly of my teammates, who have seen me at my best and my most ornery, and who never failed to encourage and love me during our time together. Never before have I felt so much a part of a group--accepted as myself--than I did with these wonderful folks, who I now call family. Is it possible that this time last year I hadn’t met any of them? They feel like my oldest friends in the world, and I’m devastated by the idea that after this week, I’ll never live near them ever again. I’ll miss you so much, River 7!
When I say I’ve developed a new viewpoint of these United States, I guess what I mean is, I now know how much I don’t know. Working so closely with non-profit organizations in multiple states has given me a glimpse into the reality of the selflessness and hope that exists in people. There are so many who do so much, and I’m privileged to have met a few of them during my term of service. If you ever feel yourself getting cynical when it comes to our world, look up some non-profits, talk to the people who run it and volunteer with it, spend some time getting to know them and their mission, and you’ll start to see what I’m talking about.
Don’t just nod your head in agreement when you read this, or chuckle and say, “oh young people and their soon-to-be-crushed-by-the-business-of-living optimism”. Rather, do a Google search on volunteer opportunities in your area, or start conversations with strangers and see what they know. You’ll be surprised by the opportunities you’ll run into, and the awesome people you’ll meet. Even you folks who support organizations financially, that’s awesome, and without your support, non-profits couldn’t exist, but also, spend some of your time volunteering as well. I think to really feel and understand what strength and goodness exist in mankind, you need to be there.
That being said, I really cannot express the change I feel within myself that has occurred over the course of this 10-months. Not only do I want to be better, I have the confidence to actually go out and follow the example that has been set for me by so many outstanding individuals. I’ve heard it said that every experience you have, and every person you meet shapes you in some way, and you’re different because of it. I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to spend so much time being shaped by people who have changed me for the better. I can’t wait to get home and begin the next phase in my life!
For those of you who don’t know, I plan to start a small business doing finish carpentry within the Central KY area. This year I discovered how much I love construction, and I want to use the skills I have learned to tangibly make peoples’ living situations a little brighter. I am so excited to begin this project, and I want to thank you all for the support you’ve given me, not only during this program, but also way before. My family and friends’ belief in my abilities caused me to extend my reach, and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me just around the corner…
Love you guys,