Today, AmeriCorps celebrates 20 years dedicated to making an impact in communities throughout the United States. Through AmeriCorps, more than 900,000 Americans have served more than 1 billion hours over the past 20 years. Thousands of communities and millions of Americans have benefited from their service.
At Operation Homefront, we have welcomed many AmeriCorps members inside our four walls. Each of them have brought their unique talents and insight to make our organization stronger. One such member, Vickie Starr, shares what the AmeriCorps experience has meant to her:
At a non-traditional age, I completed my Master’s degree. And like most college graduates, I was eager to join the work force (again). And ready to eat something other than Ramen noodles.
Instead of moving in with my parents until I found a job, I moved in with my son. Resume’ in hand, I filled out many applications.
AmeriCorps called, and I was extremely interested…until I found out that I would be a volunteer and receive a small stipend. I had just scraped through four years as a college student, so I really didn’t want to be a broke AmeriCorps volunteer.
But there was a huge dilemma. The AmeriCorps position with Operation Homefront was my dream job. And I really wanted my dream job.
My son agreed to let me live with him for very little rent (I think he forgot his years of free rent under my roof). My car was paid off, my student loans would be deferred for a year, and my medical would be paid for. Financially, I could make it work.
On July 30, 2013, I joined AmeriCorps and Operation Homefront. Unbelievably quick, my year flew by. I learned so many new things and developed valuable skills. Certain moments and experiences will be forever etched in my memories:
- One mother, Donella, told me that she cried when her son arrived home, as part of our program to fly service members home. And she cried when he left too.
- Purple Heart recipients were given toolboxes by the Sons of the American Revolution. They were touched by the gift. I was touched by the sacrifices that many of our veterans have made for their country.
- Too cute kiddies came to our Back-To-School Brigade in San Antonio for free school supplies, joined by thankful and grateful parents that had one less thing to worry about.
- One young son, whose family had just received a mortgage-free home, flexed his muscles during a key ceremony. I think he knew that receiving a home would strengthen his family.
- That first thank you letter I got from a family that received food assistance is something I’ll never forget.
- I tried not to cry as I attended a Homefront Celebration and listened to Michelle Cuthrell speak about her life as a military spouse. I cried any way.
- It was cold outside as we pushed buggies loaded with groceries out to the cars of service members during our Holiday Meals for Military program. But my heart felt warm.
I could go on and on about my experience working with dedicated Operation Homefront employees who truly love their jobs and helping out military families.
Every story should have a happy ending. This one does too. I am now a full-time employee at Operation Homefront. Thanks to AmeriCorps, my dream job is now my reality.
In 2010, Operation Homefront (OH) began its partnership with AmeriCorps by bringing on board Michael Heymsfield to work in public relations. Since then, 29 AmeriCorps members have augmented Operation Homefront in needed areas. Currently, OH has 16 AmeriCorps positions and two AmeriCorps VISTA positions. We were happy to celebrate with a swearing in ceremony today in San Antonio.