My Two Year Reflection by Ethan Krenzer

June 6, 2023

Two years serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Butte, Montana, it has been a tough but rewarding experience. Moving from Orange County, California in Summer 2021, the opportunity to assist two different nonprofit organizations and learn from their talented and compassionate team members on how to grow capacity, raise awareness about what specific organization’s do and how it impacts their stakeholder community, fundraise through Community Night Events and Activities, and knowing when to pursue leads that will grow the organization’s reputation beyond their local level, has made me a better professional. Close to starting my third year of Montana Campus Compact VISTA service in Missoula with the Moving Mountains Foundation (MMF), I am very excited to apply what I have learned from the Montana College Attainment Network (MCAN) and The Root and The Bloom Collective at my new host site. Serving two years in the same town, it will be an emotional and cultural shakeup when I leave Butte in early August. Wonderful people live here, and it has been my pleasure to serve as best that I could do will hopefully alleviate the problems of poverty for someone down the road.

In Summer 2021 my life was at an impasse. Recently unemployed, I was ready to donate my time towards a worthy cause in a less crowded state. Choosing Montana, I had no expectations. Since moving and living in Butte, not knowing what to expect, has made my time of service more rewarding. An important mining town, the area was responsible for supplying the state and the rest of the country with copper for bullet casings during the First and Second World Wars and wiring for America’s powerlines and telephone poles. Learning about Butte’s rich mining and labor history made me extremely appreciative of this region of Montana. Discovering the town’s roots, it has made meeting and serving residents from multiple generations of families who have called this area home more rewarding. When I assisted my organization in increasing their capacity or indirectly serving a stakeholder member it felt like aiding their entire generation.

Butte and other towns in Montana are why AmeriCorps should exist. An important town like many others across America, these federal programs are a way to thank communities who helped build the country. As the United States continues to recover from the pandemic, programs like VISTA and the VISTA Leader will remind communities that they have not been forgotten and that people still care about them and want them to succeed. Before starting my new position in August, I would like to thank the Development Director of MCAN and the Curator and Program Director at The Root and The Bloom Collective for everything. Through your supervision and invitation to be a part of your communities both inside and outside of work, you have made me a better team member and feel more connected to Butte.

Ethan is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with The Root and the Bloom Collective in Butte, Montana