Minnesota Reading Corps & Minnesota Math Corps Blog

#TBT: Our Stories of Service

As we celebrate AmeriCorps Week and 25 years of AmeriCorps members getting things done, it’s the perfect time for a throwback Thursday featuring some of our staff reflecting on their time as an AmeriCorps Member.

Brianne Benson-Schlegel
“From 2012-2013, I served with True North AmeriCorps and from 2013-2014, I was with Promise Fellows. AmeriCorps changed my life. This is a picture of me and my best friend, Alice. We met during our first year of service together and have both taken on careers with different AmeriCorps programs! Alice is now the Director of True North AmeriCorps here in Duluth and I am recruiting for Reading Corps and Math Corps. AmeriCorps helped me gain the necessary skills to grow my professional career and network.”

Danielle Maser
“I was lucky enough to be able to serve with Minnesota Reading Corps in the community I grew up in and graduated high school from – Columbia Heights. It was a lot of fun serving at Highland Elementary and I did so for 3 years. One of my favorite memories was I Love to Read Month. Highland celebrated by decorating the school in Dr. Seuss themed art to celebrate. My fellow tutor Lana and I were located in the school’s media center which meant our door was twice as big as other classrooms so we decided to go twice as big as with our decoration. We choose the Dr. Seuss book ‘If I Ran the Circus’ as our inspiration and our students loved the results. It is definitely one of my favorite memories from my year of service and the art was pretty impressive if you ask me.”

Hannah VanSant-Ouellette
“Before moving to Minnesota, I barely knew about AmeriCorps, but now I can’t see my life without it. I served at Creative Arts Secondary School as a Math Corps tutor and as a VISTA Leader at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as well as serving on the InterCorps Council (ICC) of Minnesota both years. One of my favorite memories is from the ICC where I planned a dodgeball tournament and food drive. I got to witness seeing children of AmeriCorps members compete against dodgeball pros (don’t worry no one got injured and everyone enjoyed themselves!) and we were able to collect over 270 non-perishable food items! I can say without a doubt that my two years of service with AmeriCorps has changed not only my career path, but made me a more service-minded person.”

Heather Johnson
“My favorite AmeriCorps memory was when I got to serve on a Disaster Relief team as part of AmeriCorps NCCC in the Atlantic region. A tornado had gone through the town a few months prior and we were deployed to cut up fallen trees and help homeowners get back to their properties. It was humid, we were soaked with sweat as soon as we stepped out of our work van, the days were long and we were tired, but we got things done. That project was probably the most accomplished I’ve ever felt. It helped that our progress was very visible, but we also worked so effectively that the city didn’t have any more assignments for us several weeks ahead of schedule.”

Julia Quanrud
“I served for two years, first at Minnesota Campus Compact and then as a VISTA Leader for a team of 14 VISTA members placed in the Minneapolis Public Schools District. I also served on the Council both years.  Those two years played a major role in shaping who I am now and the life that I lead. Several of my most important post-college friendships were formed through AmeriCorps, and I found that I really enjoyed helping people lead complex, critically important service efforts like the InterCorps Council and the Minneapolis Public Schools VISTA project.”

Kalia Xiong
“I had the pleasure to serve at Expo with some of the best people! My favorite memory during my service year was when we threw a small party at the end of the year for all the students that were in the program throughout the year to celebrate their efforts, success, and the end of the school year. I think it was nice to be able to show the students that despite our one-on-one or small group tutoring time, they were not alone on their literacy journey and that there were all these other students who are also on this journey with them.”

Sadie Botine – Program Manager
“I served with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. One of my favorite parts was just being able to watch the students in our after school club make connections and friendships with other students that were not only adjusting to a new way of life, but were sometimes coming from a different background or country. It was incredible to see the bonds that formed between students that couldn’t even speak the same language, yet they somehow found a way to understand and relate to one another. I loved being able to personally build relationships with my students and support them as they transitioned to life in the U.S. To this day, 5 years later, I still keep in touch with my students and it always brightens my day when I get a text or message with an update about their lives.”

What is your favorite memory from AmeriCorps? How has service changed your life or community? Join us in celebrating AmeriCorps Week 2020 and share how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps. Drop us a line at suzanne.pagel@servetogrow.org.

Suzanne Pagel#TBT: Our Stories of Service