Why did you apply to be an AmeriCorps Member?
I applied to be an AmeriCorps member because I wanted to make a positive change in the immigrant community. As an immigrant myself, I felt the need to help as much as I could. When I applied to be an AmeriCorps member, I saw it as an opportunity to fulfill my desire to help in the immigrant community. I’ve always had a strong interest in and commitment to community organizing, social, economic and racial justice.
What Neighborhood Network community are you placed in?
I am currently working at Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC). BPNC is member of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Network (BPNN).
What is your role as an AmeriCorps Member?
As an AmeriCorps member I wear several hats. My role is centered on education, health, job readiness and communication. One of responsibilities includes coordinating and promoting events for children and community residents. This summer I am leading physical activities for children at Play Street events, where over 300 community residents attend. At the upcoming Play Streets, I am coordinating a rummage sale to celebrate the renovation of Kelly Park.
I assist Veronica Villasenor, Director of Financial Services, by creating and reviewing housing and financial coaching clients’ files to ensure the program is in compliance with grant standards. I participate and provide support for coalition and committee meetings by coordinating meeting logistics, taking minutes, and conducting research on deliverables.
I created a webpage from scratch for BPNN, with this webpage I promote community events. I work as an aide in the classroom at our community schools, Shields and Davis Elementary schools. Lastly, I serve as a volunteer for the annual Youth Summit, Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon and the annual health fair.
What have you learned in your role?
I learned that it truly takes a village to raise a child. BPNC staff, leaders, and volunteers devote time and effort to ensuring Brighton Park youth, parents, and community members receive well-rounded education and care throughout the year. Although Brighton Park is an underserved community lacking critical resources, BPNC and BPNN partner with organizations like United Way to host summer programs, case management, nutritional workshops, and so much more! As an AmeriCorps Member, I have experienced first-hand the long hours and tiresome work it takes to accomplish tasks. Is it rough? Absolutely. Nonprofits like BPNC and BPNN have the most challenging and stressful work, but nonprofit organizations offers some of the best rewards.
What do you want individuals to know about your Neighborhood Network?
BPNN’s mission statement is to support cradle to career opportunities for children and youth, and improve the quality of life for families in the Brighton Park neighborhood. Thirty members strong, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Network (BPNN) accomplishes its goals by bringing together key stakeholders (school principals, social service agencies, 9th District Police, CPS Network 8, and community leaders) to create a more robust and efficient social service infrastructure, and engage institutions and community leaders in policy change campaigns in four key areas: violence prevention and public safety, education, health, and income/ economic development.
What do you hope to accomplish during your year of service?
I want to be a positive influence in the community as much as it has positively affected me.
What were you doing prior to the AmeriCorps Program?
I was pursuing a career in Physical Therapy while working full time as a manager at a fast food restaurant. Knowing that I could not get higher within my work position I decided to look for a job that can potentially turn to career.
Funding for AmeriCorps provided in part by Corporation for National and Community Service, and Serve Illinois / Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.