Blog Post: Stevens Youth Center 2020 Americorps Vista

July 14, 2020

I first applied to be an Americorps Summer Vista because amidst COVID-19 I wanted to help in some way. While sitting at home in Pittsburgh, I felt lost and unproductive while self isolating due to COVID-10. While researching what I could do to be a useful community member amidst a pandemic, Americorps popped up. I was excited and eager to venture into a community different from my own and support students over the summer. Ultimately, I was seeking to go outside of my comfort zone and contribute in whatever way I could.

Fast forward a few months and I am now working at the Stevens Youth Center in White Sulphur Springs. Being at the youth center for the past month has been nothing short of a magical and eye opening experience. When I first applied for the Americorps position I knew little about Montana, let alone the gem of a community that is White Sulphur Springs. On our drive, 28 hours in total, Ali and I pictured what the Stevens Youth Center would be like. Although, never our wildest dreams could we imagine the incredible place where we get to work each day. While helping to run summer programming I have had the privilege of getting to know and learn from White Sulphur’s youth, see the community come together for the July 4th festivities, and witness as caring neighbors donate time, energy, and supplies to support the SYC Summer Lunch program. 

Between planning curriculum, organizing the abundance of art supplies, and helping with daily programming, I have grown to love this close knit community. While the reality faced by many of the students we work with contrast with my own experiences growing up, I am drawn to the similarities that connect us all. Whether it is the joy that floods the kid’s faces as the fly kites, the overwhelming energy that they bring to our dance parties each morning, or the pleasure they get from a simple PB and J, the campers have reminded me of what is important in this time of COVID-19. They have shown me the importance of being fully present, the power of movement to bring happiness, and the value of curiosity. 

As I go back to the East Coast, I will not forget the lessons that White Sulphur Springs has taught me. I will remember the power of mountains and their ability to give me perspective. I will cherish the memories made while spending time with the students. I will go back with a renewed appreciation for passionate leaders like Kelly Seitz and Bethany Steinken who put their entire being into this work. I will miss my new friends made at SYC and beyond. But, most importantly, I will bring back the power and spirit of community that makes White Sulphur Springs so special.