We are excited to celebrate the annual AmeriCorps Week by sharing stories of AmeriCorps alums, including some from our Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring program!
The Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassadors Of Mentoring are full-time AmeriCorps members placed at mentoring programs and youth-serving organizations to help build their capacity to serve more youth in high quality mentoring relationships. Since 2008, 175 AOMs have served through 64 mentoring agencies with an average of 1,500 volunteer inquires that resulted in an average of 379 mentors matched each year. AOMs have reached more than 10,000 young people through nearly 35,000 service hours. Last year alone, they helped to raise $1 million for their host sites.
Our AOM program is one component of a national network of AmeriCorps members and programs. AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity for young people entering the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship. We are proud to be part of such an impactful and engaging network, and we are proud of our AOMs, both current and past!
You can learn more about how AmeriCorps week is being celebrated across the country here. You can help us celebrate by reading the story below and the other stories to come later this week!
Afi's AmeriCorps Story
Tell us about your experience as a Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring (AOM).
During my AmeriCorps year, I served with East End House in East Cambridge. I ran the mentoring program for middle and high school students. I was able to recruit both mentors and mentees, and I also gained insight on how our organization did outreach, looked at sustainability, and celebrated all of the assets of the youth and adults in our community. At East End House, we had dynamic and engaging programming where we took young people on field trips, had scavenger hunts, and shared nutritional meals.
What was the most important lesson you learned as an AmeriCorps member?
I was constantly reminded to be patient and also creative. It can be tough to serve throughout the year but always being reminded of the community and young people made me excited to face the challenges as they came with humor and curiosity.
How did being in AmeriCorps influence career path?
It directly influenced my career path! I now work at Mass Mentoring Partnership where I constantly think about the ways that informal and formal mentoring changes lived outcomes for youth. Everywhere I go I think about youth voice and choice and how supportive adult can be authentic in their connections with young people.
Why do you think AmeriCorps is important in Massachusetts communities?
The Ambassador of Mentoring program allows organizations statewide to do really important work that otherwise couldn’t be done due to capacity issues. The AOMs help their organizations to build capacity, raise awareness, and share stories about the power of youth-adult relationships. AmeriCorps programs help to sustainably strengthen communities where they are present.
Why do you think people should join AmeriCorps?
It’s an incredible learning experience and a great opportunity for people who want to be more involved in a community. It’s a hands-on chance to not only gain skills and knowledge but to also change attitudes and perceptions. It’s the best way to really understand where you fit in the bigger picture of community work and a productive and meaningful way to give back to your community. It’s a short amount of time that really has a lasting impact. You not only change your own life but you have the potential to change many lives.
What makes the Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring program special?
I love the idea of having a cohort. We are a group of 20 or so AOMs who come together at least once a month to discuss what is happening at the host sites across the state. We also talked a lot about self care and offered each other support in our work. We were able to have big conversations that tied local experiences to the bigger picture. I made lifelong friends, and I think that is an incredible benefit of the program.