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AmeriCorps Week 2016

AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs, has had a longstanding relationship with Emerald Youth since 1998. Charged nationally with “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community,” Emerald Youth AmeriCorps members serve in various roles throughout the organization. 

Each year during AmeriCorps Week, members across the country are recognized for the extraordinary impact they make across the United States every day. AmeriCorps Week is being celebrated nationally March 5-12, 2016.

As part of AmeriCorps Week 2016, Emerald Youth is highlighting the service of some past and present AmeriCorps members. (Learn more about Summer and Fall 2016 AmeriCorps positions here.)

Samantha "Sami" Bates - Emerald Youth Staff Member & AmeriCorps Alumna

AmeriCorps Week

How has Emerald Youth AmeriCorps changed your life?

For starters, working as an AmeriCorps member has helped me find what I hope is my long term career. Not only that, being an AmeriCorps member has helped me grow as a leader in my work, in my community, and in life in general.

I served in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because...

I chose to serve with Emerald Youth because my passion is working with kids. It was also a plus that the program I got to work with (as a program director with youth in a church) was the one I grew up in. It is rewarding to serve with the people who helped me grow up to be who I am today.

What have you accomplished with Emerald Youth through your AmeriCorps service?

I have accomplished what everyone would hope to accomplish while doing what they love. I now have a career directing the same elementary program that I served in.

Rita Pierre - Current AmeriCorps Member

AmeriCorps Week

How is Emerald Youth AmeriCorps changing your life?

I started serving as an AmeriCorps member in August 2015. I love it, and the opportunity has changed me in so many ways. I enjoy working with people, especially children, and AmeriCorps has taught me that whatever we do in life, it’s important to have goals to help you stay on track.

The kids have taught me so much; they share things that force me to stop and think critically! I’ve learned to understand and care for other people’s feelings, be a better listener, and have a more positive attitude.

I serve in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because…

My uncle served in AmeriCorps, which is how I first got interested. I just love to serve and be with people.

I really wanted to do it; there’s not a day that goes by I regret serving in AmeriCorps with Emerald. The people I work with are very supportive and nice.

What are you accomplishing with Emerald Youth through your AmeriCorps service?

In the last few months, I can say that I’ve filled somebody’s bucket as they have filled mine. What I was looking for in life I have found here in many ways – people giving back and people supporting me. At the end of the day, you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile. 

Pat Fearnow - Emerald Youth Staff Member & AmeriCorps Alumna

AmeriCorps Week

How did Emerald Youth AmeriCorps change your life?

My Emerald Youth AmeriCorps service made me aware of the needs of inner-city children. As a retired person, I discovered that the children could relate to me and that I could still be of service to my city. Serving others makes my own life more rewarding. 

I served in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because...

I was already an occasional volunteer with someone I knew who worked at Emerald Youth. 

What are you accomplishing with Emerald Youth thanks to your AmeriCorps service?

As an AmeriCorps member, I served in a JustlLead Learning Lab with the children. When my tenure ended, I was able to come on staff with Emerald Youth part-time, and I continue to volunteer with some friends to provide a meal once a month at the church where I served during my AmeriCorps time. I enjoy seeing the children as they learn and grow up!

August "Auggie" Moultry - Emerald Youth Alumnus & Current AmeriCorps Member

AmeriCorps Week

How did Emerald Youth AmeriCorps change your life?

Eleven years ago I started attending Emerald Youth as a kid, so I grew up in the program. The AmeriCorps members back then supported me no matter what. They were always easy to talk to, and I never felt alone. I am so grateful they were in my life.

For the last couple of years as I’ve served as an AmeriCorps member, I’ve grown in patience, understanding, and especially listening. I’m a much better listener! Every kid has a different personality, and they all have their own unique struggles in life – it’s really opened my eyes, because they’re dealing with things that I never had to go through.

I am serving in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because…

When I was coming up through Emerald, I saw the difference the AmeriCorps members made in me, and I want to make the same difference with kids today. Being an Emerald Youth AmeriCorps member also helps you to get to know our city’s neighborhoods. It’s a great way to learn more about Knoxville.

What are you accomplishing with Emerald Youth through your AmeriCorps service?

There are times when the kids I serve have dealt with bullying or other kinds of stuff at school that brings them down, and I can be there to encourage and help them to have a better day. The Emerald Youth staff and AmeriCorps members are like a second family to me, and I’m going to be around as long as I can in different ways!

Megan Gentry - Fulton High School English Teacher and AmeriCorps Alumna

AmeriCorps Week

How did Emerald Youth AmeriCorps change your life?

Volunteering with Emerald Youth, and then serving through AmeriCorps changed my life by altering my mindset. I grew up a certain way in a certain part of town with a homogeneous group of people. When I came to college, I had little empathy with people who were different from me. I was unable to see much past my own perspective. However, luckily for me, I stumbled across Emerald Youth Foundation.

Because I knew I wanted to become a teacher, I began volunteering with Emerald to gain experience with youth. Very quickly, my mindset began to change. I realized that great joy and purpose are found in serving others, not oneself. Today I am a teacher, and there are days that I forget this. But when I look back at those early days at EYF when I was a young person developing into an adult, I remember moments of realization, of learning to make the best choices to be successful, dedicated, committed, and others-oriented. I will never forget those moments. That is why it is safe to say that serving with AmeriCorps changed my life.

I served in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because...

Originally, I decided to serve in AmeriCorps because I knew that to get by in this world, I needed to understand life through another person's eyes. What better eyes to look through than those of a young person? I learned so much by putting myself each day in the shoes of the youth I served in summer camp, tutoring, sports, and mentoring, and I would not take back my experiences for anything!

Another reason I chose to serve in AmeriCorps: I saw the large amount of time I would be spending with youth as an ideal context and opportunity to serve others in a Christ-like manner. My previous experience volunteering with Emerald had taught me that it was not easy to lay down my time, heart, and love for the sake of others, but that it was a feat worth undertaking. After all, Christ has ultimately laid down his all for us.

What are you accomplishing today thanks to your Emerald Youth AmeriCorps service?

Through my AmeriCorps service, I had the amazing opportunities to work with youth at Virginia Avenue Ministry, Mount Zion Baptist Church, tutoring sessions at Beck Cultural Center, and ACT practice sessions at Austin-East High School. There were many hectic field trips and unforgettable conferences. I was able to see the "beginning processes" of many undertakings, which taught me to be bold and unafraid of starting something new that you wish to be in place. For example, I led and coordinated the after school ACT preparatory program at Austin-East High school during 2012-13, and was proud to boast a small part of that school's increase in their ACT scores!

Now my life revolves around boosting students' academic growth. I am now a proud Fulton Falcon as an English teacher, despite my humble beginnings as a lowly college student working at Fulton's rival, Austin-East. Each day when I wake up, I feel the deep need to, first and foremost, ask my Savior for help and perseverance to do my best at my job, and secondly, to remember where I came from and what I have already learned. AmeriCorps and Emerald Youth helped guide me to where I am today. They were an important first step in my incomplete but precious journey that is called life...and I am thankful for that!

Kent Stanger - JustLead Director and AmeriCorps Alumnus

Kent Stanger

How did Emerald Youth AmeriCorps change your life?
For me, Emerald Youth AmeriCorps led to a life of serving. My calling is to serve kids and families in urban Knoxville. I would not have connected with Emerald Youth Foundation in the same way had I not served with AmeriCorps. I'm not sure what work I'd be doing had it not been for my opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps member.

I served in AmeriCorps with Emerald Youth because...
Honestly, AmeriCorps was a gateway for me. I chose to serve mostly because I wanted to get involved in the community work that was happening at Emerald Youth Foundation. It didn't take long to realize that many other people also wanted to impact the city of Knoxville too. Getting to know the many AmeriCorps members who worked alongside me and becoming a part of that broad community of service was very powerful.

What are you accomplishing with Emerald Youth thanks to your AmeriCorps service?
Now I am in a leadership position in the organization where I began as an AmeriCorps member 13 years ago. Each day our team, which includes dozens of AmeriCorps members, works to make the lives of kids and families better. As a non-profit, Emerald Youth Foundation qualifies to receive the support of the AmeriCorps program to serve kids in education and health programs. Without AmeriCorps, we wouldn't have the ability to reach as many or serve in as many neighborhoods.