So I’m six months into my year of service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, making this a good time to step back and reflect on some of the challenges I have faced thus far. When I decided to become a VISTA, I had sugar-coated expectations that I could save the world in a year and everything would be just perfect. Not the case. Constant struggles make it very tempting to give up, but I was warned from the beginning that this journey would not be easy. My service year has been very difficult, but honestly worth every second.
I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, and took that aspect of my character to Compeer full force. I take time to draw up plans for how I’d like to develop the Engagement and Outreach department, only to find a variety of factors in the way of making those dreams a reality. Funding is a huge problem for any non-profit, and Compeer is no exception. In December, for example, my Supervisor and I were put in charge of Compeer’s annual youth holiday party. We had a very small budget to work with, but our clients have very high expectations for this event. Because of this, she and I were tempted (and thiiiiiissss close) to calling off the whole party. I e-mailed every club in Rochester for support, donations, ANYTHING and… no response. Just as we were about to throw in the towel, however, a mentor stepped up and collected donations from her co-workers to buy gifts. We ended up with hundreds of gifts and gift cards from her staff, allowing Compeer to use what little money we did have for other expenses. Then, the Rochester Museum and Science Center cut our venue cost almost in half. After a quick budgeting meeting, we realized that the amount saved through these donations left just enough money for Compeer to cover the rest of the expenses. The party went off without a hitch, all for about a quarter of the typical cost necessary to fund this event. Just as I was about to give up, I was reminded of how great of a community Rochester really is. This gives me reason to keep pushing through the hard times, because I know that Rochester is SO deserving of my time and efforts.
My service year is also reaping benefits separate from my placement at Compeer. Just last Friday, I received an acceptance letter from Drexel University School of Law, along with a full ride to to their J.D. program. Without a doubt, I have the Rochester Youth Year program to thank for that generous offer. It has made my quest to become a public defender SO much more genuine, and I think the admissions committee could sense that in my personal statement. So yes, things have been hard – but I’d say they’re worth it 100%. Nothing good in life comes easy, and Compeer has proven that to be true countless times. Nonetheless, only those who can put up with the rain can enjoy the sunshine, and that’s the attitude I plan to take into my last six months of service.