Serving My Hometown by Serena Whitcome
When I graduated from high school, I left for college with many scholarships in tow, and although many of these scholarships were awarded based on service that I had done while in school, I still felt like I owed something back to my community. In high school, I had been part of service groups such as the National Honor Society, Key Club, and Student Council. Each of these groups had a unique service goal and I absolutely loved helping my community, but when I left for college in another city, helping my home community took a backseat to the other projects that occupied my time.
I was presented with the opportunity to serve my hometown as an MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA with the National Summer Lunch Program back in January when some mentors I had when I was interning at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank the summer before, reached out to me. I must admit, being back in my hometown was not a goal I initially had for my post-college career, but the opportunity to serve my community weighed heavily on my mind. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, my options for after graduation began to look a little different than what I initially had envisioned. It was then I realized that the best option for putting my degree in Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems to work would be to come back to my hometown as an AmeriCorps VISTA and serve with the National Summer Lunch Program.
Although the job description changed due to the Coronavirus, the goal of providing meals for kids in my community stayed the same. Issues caused by food insecurity and childhood hunger are near and dear to my heart, and being able to combat food insecurity in my own community has reaffirmed my career goals and purpose in this world. In the first month we served over 1,000 lunches to kids in my hometown. Although not all meals served are to kids and families struggling to make ends meet, a good portion of them are, so we are making a huge difference.
My summer service with AmeriCorps is helping to provide children with needed meals, and parents with a piece of mind that if the budget doesn’t cover lunches this month, their kids will still have food. If you have the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA and make a difference in your community, or any community I encourage you to do it, you will not regret it and you may gain a new perspective in the meantime!