When Entrepreneurship is Necessary by Anya Smith

Anya is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab (WELL) in Missoula, Montana “Men start businesses because they have an idea or an opportunity, women start businesses because they have to.”  This (or something close) was said at the first full staff meeting I attended for the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab. It’s a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. I’ve lived in Montana most of my life, and based on my experience, it can be difficult to find jobs here that allow a person to make a livable wage. This is compounded…

My Experience with Service by Francine Tageant

Francine is an AmeriCorps College Coach serving in Missoula. I was first introduced to AmeriCorps when a friend of mine decided to serve in Bellingham, Washington. She was serving at a middle school helping tutor students who had fallen behind in school. I can remember how excited she was when one or more of her students would begin to understand their coursework. My children are now all grown and leading their own lives. I was ready for a change in my life as well. Little did I know that it would be blown up in just a few short months….

Embracing Your Fear by Allie Nawrocki

Let me set the scene for you. It is August 2022, and I was about to leave my Midwest home. With it, I would be leaving everything I knew behind. At first, I was thinking I was crazy, flying to a place I had never been before. I had so much anxiety doing it by myself, and I also knew that I would miss my parents, my siblings, and friends. As I looked around, everything was different, and that was a daunting experience. This fear was familiar because I felt the same way when I went to college. I also…

Reflection on My Journey by Anna Waller

Anna is an AmeriCorps College Coach serving at Salish Kootenai College. It has been more than six weeks now since I started my service term as a Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps College Coach, and I have learned a lot, although I have only just begun. It is my pleasure to be serving the community through Salish Kootenai College’s Upward Bound program, a nationwide initiative with the purpose of providing higher education opportunities to high school students from low-income families and/or parents without bachelor’s degrees. Through this experience, I am learning that community service can take on many forms. I never…

Finding My Way in Service by Emily Montalvo

My time as a VISTA has been, overall, an extremely rewarding experience that has taught me a lot about both my local community and myself.  I am serving with the Rural Institute of Inclusive Communities, which promotes equal opportunity for people with disabilities. As someone who has a disability, is dating someone with a disability, and was the primary caregiver for a parent with a disability, the work of the Rural Institute is personal to me. We all deserve the same opportunities, and too often people with disabilities are denied those opportunities. During my service, I have been working on…

Supporting Entrepreneurship in Montana by Sarah Grissom

Serving with Accelerate Montana’s Rural Innovation Initiative (AMRII) has exposed me to the importance of supporting local businesses and entrepreneurship throughout Montana. Stimulating the local economy through business by providing support is important but not the only component that helps businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed. The purpose of economic development is to alleviate poverty by appealing to communities’ entrepreneurial spirit to create a sustainable local economy. However, this comes with barriers for rural or Indigenous people who are not geographically close to resources that could aid them in starting or expanding their businesses.  Entrepreneurism and small businesses have always been…

Rollercoaster of Service by Rylie Yaeger

This service year has had its ups and downs, but resulted in unexpected victories. When I first began my term, my supervisor told me, “You will have ups and downs during service. It is normal and everyone goes through it.” As a former AmeriCorps member, she really knew what doing a service year means mentally. Her words have stuck with me for the almost 11 months I have been serving. I went through one of the worst things that life doesn’t quite prepare you for during service. My aunt, my mother figure, passed away and I had to use the…

On Belonging by Amber Peretz

Tomorrow will be my 29th birthday. September 14th.  This time last year I was moving out of my apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida and preparing to move to Montana where an AmeriCorps VISTA position was waiting for me at the MSU Billings Native American Achievement Center. At the time of my move, there were some very big questions on my mind- questions that more truthfully stemmed from my heart. There was this feeling that although Florida would always be my home, it seemed to be pushing me away for the time being. My family would joke that it didn’t need…

Sacrifice and Service by Nathan Switchenko

AmeriCorps VISTA member Nathan Switchenko “What’s it going to be then, eh?” was a question I often asked myself after I graduated college-though I had a rather less poetic retort. This uncertainty, during the height of Covid lockdowns, soon reached a head, and pushed me into moving a thousand miles to a state I had hitherto never set foot to serve as an underpaid AmeriCorps VISTA member. Other factors such as a confluence of friends serving or entering service also helped, but the root of my interest was in a desire to prevent other college graduates from feeling the same…

Do Good, Try Your Best by Emily McMath

Emily, our 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Senior Leader, served two terms with Montana Campus Compact Excitement, learning, hesitation, perseverance, grief, burnout, growth, frustration, resolve. My AmeriCorps experience can and will be described in a multitude of ways. After two years, one might think the ability to talk about what you have experienced would be familiar, become habit, but honestly my description changes every time. I reviewed past blogs from my first year of service to see if my opinion changed, if my outlook of the world differed in any way. The remarkable thing is, at the core, it has not. I still…

Witnessing Inspiration Bloom By Jonathan Carter

Jonathan is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at spectrUM Discovery Area at the Missoula Public Library As I enter the penultimate month of my service year, I would like to take a moment to pause and reflect on my experience so far. I’ve found my community impact can be a bit more challenging to measure than that of my fellow cohort members. While their high school and college students are working hard on grades and applications, my zero- to ten-year-old audience is concerned with simply having fun (and learning new things!) at the museum. Ultimately, smiles and inspiration are trickier to…

Investing in a More Hopeful Future by Noah Aukerman

Noah serves with Montana Technological University in Helena at Capital High School “My parents kept me out of school today because of shooting and bomb threats,” a student explained to me. Their absence from school prevented them from attending their weekly meeting to receive the academic mentorship and college readiness services my service site offers. However, this student’s worries were well founded. The day prior, Helena police arrested a man who had made three explosive devices with the intention of detonating them at Helena High School. He was also in possession of three semi-automatic rifles which he expressly intended to…

Service With Snqweyłmistn By Emma Myers

After having completed my first service year at a family shelter, I knew I wanted to continue serving parents and children. That left a lot of room for me to explore and search, but when I saw the opportunity to work with indigenous foster families in rural Montana, everything about it excited me. I was initially intrigued by Snqweyłmistn as a host site for my service year because of how many people they wanted to impact through their programming. They weren’t only concerned with the well-being of current foster families, but also the seven generations of indigenous people that would…

The Meaning of Success by Cindy Morales

Cindy is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Poplar High School Every community is different. Oftentimes people are measured by a standard level used for all, that completely disregards the outliers and minoritized individuals. These standards are based on communities or groups of people who do not encompass everyone. Serving on the Fort Peck Reservation with high school students has made it more apparent that these standards are hurtful. We must celebrate every improvement and every success. Just like communities are different, so are individuals. The difference lies not only in the present, it lies in the journey and hardships leading…

Remember Our Past…Build Our Future by Donna Stuccio

Donna is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Blackfeet Community College. Five months have passed since my previous blog. I couldn’t remember so I had to look through the archives to remind myself how much time passed since I wrote it. My feet feel so firmly planted in Browning, that I was certain it was much longer ago. In my first couple of months here, I couldn’t foresee how seamless this transition could be. There has been huge swath of generosity that has continued to surround me since I arrived in Montana, starting with all the leaders of Montana Campus Compact,…

Perspective By Alyx Chandler

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with labeling everything as either right or wrong, truth or lies, and had a hard time understanding what was between those two, that concept of a gray area. Looking back, I have a lot of respect for my parents. I realize I was probably a hard kid to parent at times: highly sensitive, intense, with a strong need for perfection. Not only did I have a tendency to demand too much of myself, despite some difficult circumstances, but I also demanded that from everyone else around me, despite their difficult circumstances. Let’s…

The “Else” Word by David Mariani

David is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Great Falls College Some questions in life are better left unasked. “Where are you from?” makes me bristle with its (hopefully) unintended micro-aggressive questioning of my origins and American-ness. “What do you do for work?” forces me to do a sidelong glance for insinuating my worth goes only as far as my useful to others. Word to the wise: Do not ask me when I plan on getting married and having kids. Recently, a new question made its way onto my list of questions that earn my ire, “What else are you doing?”…

The Beauty of Evolution: The Learning Curve by Omiah Mitchell

Omiah is an AmeriCorps Leader serving with Dawson’s Promise at Dawson Community College. There is so much to be said about my experience thus far I honestly do not really know where to begin. So I guess I will begin here, Montana as a whole is the 17th State with the largest homeless population. 9.2% of that population (the population I serve), are between the ages of 18-25. While another 4.4% are between the ages of 13-17. The homeless youth in rural Montana is an issue that has been steadily growing as far back as the early 1900’s. When looking…

Defining Success in Service By Robyn Michalec

The Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center is a beautiful mess of color, filled with mismatched furniture, shelves of books and board games, and always an abundance of goldfish crackers and fruit snacks. We are located in a building with a lot of history; built in 1899, the space has seen thousands of faces and has heard just as many stories. While the Center has only occupied this office for a few years, countless moments of joy have added to those stories. Hundreds of members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies have been able to enter this space and add their authentic…

A Day in The Life of an AmeriCorps Leader: Alternative Spring Break by Demetrius Sudduth-Peterson

Demetrius is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Montana Technological University with The Institute for Educational Opportunities As my second blog 4 months into my first term as an AmeriCorps Leader, I have happy adventures to share after climbing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid; Survival, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization. My first blog post revolved around adjusting and relocating from Chicago, Illinois to Butte, Montana. Here at Montana Technological University’s Institute for Educational Opportunities, I am now experiencing the rewarding phase of service while serving with students that are members of the TRIOS and Upward Bound programs. The past weekend, I…