A blank slate of possibility lay before me exactly one year ago this time. I moved to Portland to serve as the Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator for Saturday Academy and was tasked with creating a new program. To say I explored my curiosity is an understatement! Not only did I explore the possibilities with Saturday Academy, I learned the ins and outs of a different city, navigated an unfamiliar workplace and moved through the systems of the Corporation for National Service. Reflecting on all of these unfamiliarity’s is rewarding because in a year they have become my norm, solace, space to grow and a unique platform where I have found a greater purpose to community and service.
AmeriCorps is the Corporation for National & Community Service, a federal program that was created to combat poverty in America, there are over 80,000 people a year serving the nation through a multitude of programs ranging from re-entry support to disaster relief. My AmeriCorps path was the road of education through Campus Compact of Oregon, a nonprofit committed to racial and social justice within education systems, which led me to Saturday Academy.
As an AmeriCorps VISTA, and Saturday Academy’s first VISTA, we focused efforts on building capacity through indirect service. My yearlong assignment was to create a volunteer and outreach program, cultivate potential partnerships and foster current partnerships, attend community events and plan logistics for our yearlong diversity, inclusion and equity training with the Center for Equity and Inclusion. Not to mention all of the other opportunities afforded to me from learning how to grant write to lending a helping hand at Geek Chic our all girls summer technology camp. The program has flourished with the support of Saturday Academy staff who have embraced the wonderfully unique experiences that come with developing a program.
Creating a program with the help of some incredible people, gaining skills and leadership abilities, and witnessing the abundant generosity of people are only but a few take aways from this influential year. On a deeper and personal level, through our work with the Center for Equity and Inclusion and Oregon Campus Compact, I have explored my place, identity and position within social justice work as a white-passing Latinx woman of color and how I can best serve my community while also being a conscious ally in the pursuit for a more equitable society. I am humbled to work along side folx dedicating their lives to uplifting our marginalized communities, dismantling white supremacy and breathing life into impactful, positive change--especially through educating and supporting curious youth.
I say with great pride that what I have done with Saturday Academy, as the Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and as an AmeriCorps VISTA, far exceed accomplishing a service year but turned out to be one of the most notable life enhancing experience yet.
Saturday Academy, Oregon Campus Compact, The Center for Equity and Inclusion and the many extraordinary people and organizations that I’ve worked with through volunteerism, partnership, and community this year—Thank you.