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Madison Smith's AmeriCorps Story of Service

Today is the first day of AmeriCorps Week 2020! AmeriCorps week is a celebration of all things national service. To recognize this week, I would like to share my experience as a VISTA thus far.


I joined the United Way of Thurston County VISTA Team in August 2019, and recently reached the halfway point of my Year of Service as the Community Outreach VISTA for Emergency Food Network. In the past six months, I’ve been immersed in the challenging world of non-profit organizations for the first time.


I have found myself in the middle of the troubling problem of hunger, reminded daily that 1 in 7 people in my county struggle with food insecurity. 


I’ve learned to keep a diligent eye on my budget, just as my organization does theirs. My organization works with limited staff and resources, which is a blessing in disguise because it means that they really value what everyone, include their VISTA, has to offer.


VISTA was definitely not the easy choice. However, the challenges are completely worth it for the ways I have grown as a person, professional, and member of my community. VISTA has been a creative space to share my own ideas and receive constructive feedback.


I have thrived in this atmosphere of resourcefulness, passion, and inclusivity. I didn’t think I would ever be the person managing a group of fifty volunteers, or having the confidence to call potential donors with requests. Opportunities like these brought me out of my comfort zone to work on skills that I would not have sought to sharpen on my own. The program has also taken me to community meetings, and all over the county to food banks that we partner with, so I have learned first-hand about the work for social justice going on all around me. I’m grateful for this opportunity to change society and myself for the better!

-Madison Smith. Madison serves at Emergency Food Network in Lakewood, WA.