There is a saying that when one door closes there is another one open. It was early 2017 and I had just started my six-month mark as a Director of an Adult Day Program serving adults with mental and physical disabilities, when I was called into the HR office with both the Director of HR and the Executive Director of the Center. I was dismissed from first job out of college, in which I had been employed with for nearly nine years. It was a devastating blow after committing so much effort, time and dedication to a place that I thought I was making a positive impact and difference in. I didn’t know what next door of anything would open.
I received a call in June 2017 from the AmeriCorps Program in Knox County and before I knew it, I was relocating to Knoxville, TN in August of that same year. Upon my arrival I knew that I would be helping serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA, but I didn’t know how deep and wide my service would impact those around me, and even myself. I took on the role as Volunteer Job Coordinator working alongside many well-established veterans in the field of human services work and community action programs. My role was to establish satellite sites for job seekers looking for work in both East and South Knoxville communities, which needed to be started from the ground up. A lot of collaboration, rapport building, and trust was given to me to work with a distinguished group of people, all while learning about a whole new city and town that I was not originally from.
By the end of my service, two newly established sites were up and running with computers and volunteers to help job seekers connect and search for jobs online, complete applications, and even file for unemployment. I credit the community that I was connected to at the Community Action Centers in Knox County, my AmeriCorps team, the volunteers I met, and the door that opened for me to serve as a VISTA. The same help that I was once in with having to start all over and look for work, complete unemployment and just have a supportive network of people around that believed in me was what I was able to give back as a VISTA. I now serve as a lecturer at a university teaching service-learning courses. If it had not been for AmeriCorps being my open door, I’m not sure where I would be.