Reflections on Becoming Through Life & Service by Amber Christina Perertz

Amber is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving at the MSUB Native American Achievement Center My name is Amber Christina Peretz. I type these thoughts while sitting on the carpeted floor of my cozy Montana home; music playing softly, a candle burning its gentle light.  I’ve come a long way to arrive here at this particular moment. Physically (I moved here from Florida), emotionally (2020 was hard for everyone), and spiritually (a story for a different time).  For years now I’ve identified as a teacher. First of little humans in elementary school, then later of undergraduate students who were preparing to become…

Learning, Healing, and Other Two-Way Streets By Noah Aukerman

Noah serves at Montana Tech University in Helena For much of my life, the societies I have lived in have conceptualized learning as an activity with two primary actors; the learner and the teacher, with the former understood to be somewhat dependent on the latter in this model. However, this season of my life has been marked by repeated realizations that the world cannot be fully understood through the lens of these categories we create to make sense of things. As an AmeriCorps service member serving with TRIO Upward Bound and Talent Search at Montana Tech, I find myself in…

COMBATTING CLIMATE DETERIORATION IN BUTTE MONTANA BY RYLIE YAEGER

When I lived in Beijing, people would always ask me how the pollution was. I told them two things: The Communist Party planted trees to stop sandstorms from entering the capital. They also moved factories away from the city, but didn’t shut them down. Despite all this, the Chinese Capitol still experiences terrible air quality for periods of the year. This past summer I moved home to Minnesota and was amazed to watch everyone taking pictures of the smoky haze drifting east from California, Washington, and Oregon and south from Canada.  While this was new for them, Minnesota generally has…

The Power of Empathy: Reflections on MLK Read for Peace by Jonathan Carter

Jonathan is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at spectrUM Discovery Area in Missoula. The recent wave of school boards nationwide removing books from curricula (and even from libraries themselves) has prompted me to reflect further on the significance of MLK Read for Peace. This service project connects community volunteers with kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms to read age-appropriate books and honor the legacy of Dr. King. Montana Campus Compact hosts this event in elementary schools across Montana to commemorate AmeriCorps and The King Center’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. While many schools enjoy a day off in observation of MLK…

Chicago to Montana: A Bona Fide Experience of Trust By Demetrius Sudduth-Peterson

Demetrius is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Montana Technological University with The Institute for Educational Opportunities Before AmeriCorps, I was a high school substitute teacher with interest of gaining more professional development and career readiness within higher education. The education benefits and network provided by AmeriCorps was my initial motivating purpose, however, after being three weeks into my term, I now feel beyond appreciative of the precious privileges that serving others has taught me about myself. The State of Montana is a completely different culture than Midwest Chicago. Much more loving and friendly people in the communities. I had a…

Collective Action Is Key For Climate Justice By Andrew Mades

My name is Andrew Mades. I began serving as a VISTA member at the National Center for Appropriate Technologies (NCAT) in November 2021 and will serve until November 2022. A historian by training, I studied in Massachusetts before moving to in Berlin, Germany in 2018. There I completed a master’s degree in project management and law and was married to my husband. While that is my background, and history is a passion of mine, I have become dismayed at the lack of urgency in addressing the climate crisis. I felt I had to act, and so began looking for a…

Unexpected Gifts in an Unexpected Place By Cindy Morales

Cindy is an AmeriCorps Leader serving at Fort Peck Community College and Poplar High School I made hard decisions and big leaps in 2021 that led me to an unexpected call to serve. I wasn’t sure what I would do next, until this opportunity presented itself. Even though I was scared, even though it was out of my comfort zone, I ventured out to Poplar, Montana to serve for a year. The big sky and wide open spaces of eastern Montana captivated me. I had told myself to be as open as the landscape that I was coming into, not…

PAYING IT FORWARD BY HILARY ROSA

This is my second year of service at the University of Montana Food Pantry. This is also the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, and things are not looking up for the majority of people- not even close. Everywhere I look, people are struggling to make ends meet. Homelessness is on the rise, people are angry. There seems to be a lot of talk from our leaders, but not much action to back it. The problems we are facing seem insurmountable given our current trajectory. The world seems a much colder place lately- and not just because it’s winter in…

Science, Try It! By Chase Campbell

Chase Campbell is an AmeriCorps Leader serving with Broader Impacts Group in Missoula, Montana. Listen to a day in the life of her service year!

The Unfrettables by David Mariani

David serves at Great Falls College MSU MTCC AmeriCorps at Great Falls College MSU operates out of the Office of Student Engagement and oversees the Great Falls College MSU Food Pantry. Students are welcome to find me for food, hygiene products, and meaningful human interaction, all freely given with no strings attached. Once in a while, I throw in some words of wisdom as a bonus. I recently had a student visit me at the food pantry with a few needs. My service always comes with a genuine concern for an individual’s wellbeing, so my trips to the pantry usually…

The Kindness of Strangers by Donna Stuccio

Donna serves in Browning, MT at Blackfeet Community College I grew up on a quiet little street in the coal mine region of northeast Pennsylvania that dead ended at railroad tracks. The coal cars would wobble and rock as they shook the ground below me. I would rush to collect coal that toppled from the overflowing cars. The deep black anthracite would come in handy for hopscotch. It was the 1960’s, years before jumbo sticks of colorful chalk were the norm. While counting cars, I anxiously waited for the end of the train and the always gracious man in the…

The Value in my Authenticity by Robyn Michalec

  I came out of the closet when I was 16 in a Wisconsin town that did not embrace its LGBTQ+ community. In many instances, it outright rejected those who came out of the closet. Fortunately, I have an overwhelmingly supportive family, and I only lost a couple of friends as I embraced my identity as a queer woman for the first time in my life. Despite my luck in receiving unwavering love from my family and many of my friends, I was not shielded from the backlash of my community. I was harassed, bullied, and threatened by classmates and community…

Why Not?: A Journey of Autonomy by Omiah Mitchell

Omiah serves at Dawson Community College with Dawson’s Promise These past two years have been unlike anything I have ever experienced before. My mind would have never been able to conceive what has occurred in this world during these past two years. At first it was wonderful to rest and just be still. Then, life quickly became a mundane redundant routine. Wake up. Shower. Log in to zoom. Log off. Sleep. Repeat. I began asking myself, “Is this really what life is going to be like?” “Is this all there is?” These supposed formative years were condensed into something that…

The Language of Dreamers by Katey Funderburgh

Katey Funderburgh serves at Salish Kootenai College Upward Bound The inside of my wrist is tattooed with a pencil. Cliché, perhaps, for an English major, but more important to me now than it was when I got it in 2019. It was the start of my Junior year, and I was reeling from an Emily Dickinson poetry class that had shattered my world and proved to me that I had something to say. My tiny pencil tattoo commemorates the discovery of my own voice. Today, the Montana leaves are colored like millions of tiny wildfires and I am 956 miles from my…

Not sewing swimsuits by Fisher Ream

My first full week of VISTA service began with the State of Montana Arboretum (SMA) Committee Retreat in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest, roughly forty minutes from the University campus. The Committee of a dozen members spent the day working on a three year vision for the State of Montana Arboretum. The facilitator, unfamiliar with the work of the Arboretum Committee, asked us first to describe the operating environment for the SMA. She said that this narrative summary would ensure that we, as a committee, were not “inside sewing swimsuits while there’s a snowstorm outside”. That is, I suppose, that the…

Southwest Gal in Big Sky Country by Jade Begay

Have you ever had a feeling of uncertainty? Like you’re struggling to find who you are and what you are called to do? If so, I am right there with you. Society expects us from an early age to know who and what we want to be when we grow up, but I have come to find it is never too late to discover who you’re meant to be and what you’re called to do.  I made my decision to become an AmeriCorps VISTA for this specific reason. I graduated from undergrad and spent three years working in a field…

Choose Humanity By George Lindbom

George is an AmeriCorps Leader serving with the International Rescue Committee in Missoula. There is a bright yellow sign hanging in the middle of the offices of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Missoula branch. It reads: “NO HATE. NO FEAR. REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE. #ChooseHumanity.” This sign lays out the perfect structure for me to use for self-reflection on my first month of service as a Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps Leader. NO HATE. There is simply no time or place for hatred when serving as a volunteer with the IRC. I am fortunate to work with and serve a variety…

Why Service in AmeriCorps Matters Now More Than Ever By Ethan Krenzer

Close to reaching my third month of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Montana Campus Compact (MTCC), volunteering during the 2021/2022 year is a significant time to serve. I am so glad/grateful that federal programs and organizations like this one exist. With everything going on across the country, what the United States of America really needs right now, are individuals generous with their time and the willingness to help underserved Americans attain necessary resources while working at or below the poverty line. In trying to address the need that so many citizens of this country have right now, AmeriCorps…

Still Awkward by Alyx Chandler

Post-grad school life is awkward and consciously humbling, in some good ways and other much harder ways. Can I afford to live alone? No. Can I even afford to live above ground, in somewhere other than a basement? Most definitely not. But am I equipped with years of therapy under my belt, a good sense of humor and at last, a confidence that energizes me? Yes. ***** Even today, I can be on the more awkward side, saying things a little too late, being a little too earnest. But now, I have fun with it, know how to crack people…

Do What You Love Love What You Do by Justin Allison

I’ve worked seasonally for quite awhile now and must say I do really enjoy the lifestyle. Getting to spend time in different places and constantly pursuing what I am passionate about are a few of the perks. Last summer however, due to the pandemic providing limited options I ended up working a seasonal job that paid the bills (quite well I might add) but wasn’t anything I was actually passionate about. Fortunately I love what I do in the winter and it was able to reset and bring me back to a level of homeostasis following the summer.  This year…