Why Do I Serve?
Start writing a post
Student Life

Why Do I Serve?

From the perspective of a new AmeriCorps VISTA.

Why Do I Serve?
Nicole Gentile

Ever since someone told me about AmeriCorps a little over a year ago, it honestly never occurred to me to do anything else after graduating college. I started looking into positions halfway through my senior year, and the more I saw, the more I wanted to serve. So I applied because it was close to home and looked interesting; what did I have to lose? Plus I finally had an answer to the dreaded question all college graduates face: “What are your plans for after college?”

Most people I spoke to about the position were excited for me, but a lot were pretty skeptical. In fact, sometimes my dad still looks at me quizzically. I remember when he took my first check to the bank to deposit it for me - he actually laughed at how little I make. Trust me, I'm not serving for the money. And a lot of people really can't see my job making much of a difference because I spend all day (mostly) in a cubicle, doing research. What difference can I possibly be making there?

So why did I pick this? Out of everything, why did I pick this minimal paying, behind-the-scenes year of service?

Why do I serve?

The easy answer is that I want to give back. Isn't that why anyone serves? They don't call it a year of service for nothing - people in this program are putting their lives on hold to give back to the community. We live on a small stipend that's a few thousand dollars under the poverty line, we work 40 hour weeks (plus some additional programming a few times a month), and most of the time we get flack for it. More than one person has told me what I'm doing this year is a waste of time. And people are already asking me, two months into my term of service, what my plans for next year are - obviously because this is just a detour on the road of success, right?

This year I have one goal at my job: create a database/map of all the resources/services/programs in Schenectady County. That's my job. I've been selected to serve my hometown in that way. And most people look at that and think it's pointless. Another database, huh? You're creating another directory? Who's going to keep that up to date? Who's that really going to help? You're wasting your time.

But you see, I'm not. People who say that to me only see how things are in the moment, but I see the future of this project. I can see the end result of all of the VISTAs working with me, too. Part of serving is seeing what could be if the organization had one more person devoted to it. And I can see the potential in my project. I can see workers for the Department of Social Services (DSS) handing out neatly organized packets to their clients, with up-to-date information about services in the area. I can see the map we're creating, where people can click on “AA Meetings” or “AIDS/HIV services” and have every location pop up on the map. I can see people no longer needing to go through DSS as often, instead able to find resources on their own. I can even see churches and others in the community looking at what’s available, and deciding to open up more homeless shelters because there’s a need or a center for LGBTQ+ rights since there is none in the county.

Why do I serve? I serve because I want to make a difference. I serve because I can see that a year from now, our world can be just a little bit better than it is today. What we do as VISTAs, as AmeriCorps members, creates a lasting impression on a community.

So maybe the question shouldn't be why I'm serving - maybe it should be why you're not. What's stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone, putting your life on hold, giving just one year of your life to make something a little bit better? I serve to create a better future for our nation. And you could, too.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Dear College Students, Are You Undecided?

Up until last week, I always had a major. I was an international business major, finance major, psych major on the pre-medicine track… and now (finally) I am exactly where I should have been when I started college: undecided. I think there is too much pressure as a high school student to have a designated path about what you want to study, be when you 'grow up' and essentially spend the rest of your life doing. As an 18-year-old, I really feel like I tried to pin myself down to a major so that I had a set path to follow and something to look towards. This is probably very conventional and I know tons of people at school who have their minds made up about what they want to study.

Keep Reading... Show less

Life Is Messy

Finding who you are in your 20s

Life Is Messy

I am 25 years old and just now learning who I am. When I separated from my husband I was terrified of what would follow. I did not know who I was outside of a relationship, nor did I know how to be on my own. It was scary, and I was so lost. I spent months discovering who I was, and what I wanted to be. I am still searching as I believe we never truly know who we are even when we "grow up". I came to the realization that I had been hiding a part of myself for my entire life. Coming out was not easy, growing up in the church made it scary, and hard. I was told growing up that being anything but straight was such a sin, and that i would spent my life in hell because of it. I came out to my parents when I was 25 years old. I picked up the phone and called my mom, and uttered the words "I'm queer" through tears. I knew my parents would be supportive, but that didn't make it any easier for me to vulnerable and raw. Since then, I have slowly started being more authentic in who I am, and not hide parts of me just because of people's shitty opinions.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments