Celebrating AmeriCorps Week!

Did you know that this is AmeriCorps week? It’s a week to celebrate the people of all ages who commit to serving at non-profits across the nation. AmeriCorps members commit to full-time service positions for terms of at least several months (some serve for several years!), receiving a small stipend, money to apply toward education, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (That’s just a smidge of an explanation about what this program does – you should definitely check out their website to find out all about what they do.) The programs, exhibits, productions and events that happen here could not happen without our AmeriCorps members – thank you ALL for your service!

I asked all of our current staff who are or were AmeriCorps members to tell me a little about their experience with the program and what has made it worthwhile. Read on to get to know four of our favorite Americorps members!

Jamie Andrew, Volunteer Coordinator and Educator (member 2008-2009): I spent eleven months as an AmeriCorps Community Resource Corps member here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine starting in 2008 – I wore a lot of different hats, learned more than I ever fathomed possible, and grew exponentially as a person and as a working professional. Initially I saw serving in AmeriCorps as a way to give back – but now I see that it was a great way to transition into a meaningful, professional job. Currently I’m a full-time Educator as well as the Volunteer Coordinator here at the Museum & Theatre, and I couldn’t be happier. It can be tough (sometimes nearing impossible!) to live on an AmeriCorps stipend – but at least now I know how to cook on a teeny-tiny budget. Besides – in the end, it’s all worth it. Tenfold.

Hannah Wilhelm, Science Educator (member 2009): I served as Maine Conservation Corps Environmental Educator in 2009 at the Department of Environmental Protection here in Portland. Every summer, the state’s Biomonitoring Program captures insects, algae, and water samples from rivers, streams, and wetlands. Last summer, we traveled to Aroostook County to collect samples. I helped with data entry, and started a teaching herbarium of wetland plants. One of the best parts of my year was visiting schools to teach outreach lessons about water quality and insects that live in streams and ponds. I appreciated getting a chance to see the inside view of how part of the state government works. The state biologists I assisted are dedicated and patient. They are engaged in service work every day. Getting to help them exposed me to so many new people and places, and I am so grateful for the experience.

Kathryn Miller, Marketing & Public Relations Assistant (current member): I began my AmeriCorps position in the Marketing and PR department in late September and I can’t believe it has already been 8 months! Since I started, I have learned so many skills that are invaluable to my professional career. Coming in with just a little old degree in English and Theatre, I have now gained responsibility for the Museum & Theatre’s entire social media presence. I’ve even be given the opportunity to use Adobe Design programs to make graphics and signage, something that I NEVER saw myself learning – and now I really enjoy it! AmeriCorps is a great option for those who want to use their knowledge and skills to give back to a community that sorely needs them and for those who want a chance to grow with an organization and be given opportunities you could never receive in an entry level job.

Matt Chamberlain, Museum Assistant (current member): I started my AmeriCorps position at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine just two months ago. My first week was “Auction week,” which needless to say was hectic and a little intimidating. Everyone on staff was more than helpful though, so I was quickly put at ease. We then moved on to designing and creating the set for the theatre’s production of “The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.” This was right in my wheel house and I felt completely at home painting and fabricating faux trees and rocks. It’s such a great sense of pride to watch a production that I had a part in creating. I think this is what makes this place so special. There is a lot of hard work involved but at the end of the day you get to see your results come to life and actually enrich someone else’s life.

I’d also like to give shout-outs and huge thank yous to past Museum & Theatre AmeriCorps members Shawn Cole, Becky Mueller and Shana Tinkle!