By Jackalyn Carione
As my AmeriCorps service year comes to an end, I have so much to reflect on and be thankful for. During a year of uncertainty and chaos, I found stability with Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network and my team members. Every day, I woke up excited to serve at HCAN and work to improve the lives of families and keiki in Hawaiʻi.
Together, our team put a COVID-19 resource map that provided resources for all the islands and advocated for policies like paid family leave that would offer relief to many families. The AmeriCorps mission is to help eradicate poverty in the United States, and my work at HCAN truly aligned with that mission.
As the Communications and Development Coordinator, I served on projects like planning our annual fundraising dinner and improving our social media following. Volunteering by building capacity, rather than offering direct service, allowed me to give back while also gaining professional skills that will advance my career. My supervisor, Ryan Catalani, Director of Advancement, and the rest of the staff at HCAN have offered me endless opportunities to learn from them, try out new skills, and lead my very own projects. I am now walking away with advanced graphic design skills, confidence in public speaking, and strong writing skills. In addition to the support HCAN gave me, the AmeriCorps VISTA program offered me insightful webinars, a cohort of amazing peers, and the opportunity to give back to the country and the community I live in.
While in Hawaiʻi, I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on Native Hawaiian history and culture and the present issues that exist in the community. This knowledge has helped me become more aware and sensitive to the community and become a better AmeriCorps member in the process. Understanding the community you serve is essential to being a successful AmeriCorps VISTA, and I hope to take the knowledge I have to inform others and help make a more educated society.
HCAN and the AmeriCorps VISTA program have shaped me into a better person than when I first started. As I continue my career, I will always look back to when I was placed at this remarkable organization to serve and make lasting connections. I leave HCAN knowing my work has made a difference in the community—and that HCAN and this community also made a difference in me. I hope every AmeriCorps VISTA has shared the same experiences as me, and I look forward to seeing the impact the next VISTA has on HCAN.
Mahalo HCAN and AmeriCorps for a beautiful year and experience I will always look back at with a smile!