Fellows Commit a Year of Service to Local Communities
Readers, we are happy to inform you that AmeriCorps is alive and well in Massachusetts!
According to the AmeriCorps website, more than 41,000 Fellows of all ages and backgrounds are currently serving in the Bay State. Organizations across Massachusetts are committed to matching AmeriCorps volunteers with their ideal local service opportunities. One of them is located right here in the heart of Boston.
Founded in the year 2000, Massachusetts Promise Fellowship is now entering its 12th year of promoting service for young people. The agency has employed over 200 Fellows in youth development projects across the state. Fellows are placed in city agencies, schools, and non-profit organizations for one year, during which they create and manage projects geared toward the development of Massachusetts youth.
“There’s nothing more powerful than knowing that your year will make a difference in your life and others and will potentially have a legacy beyond your time,” Amaad Rivera, former Fellow, stated.
Rivera served from 2004-2005 at the Holyoke Youth Task Force as Coordinator for the Holyoke Youth Mission. While serving in Holyoke, Rivera developed a series of civic engagement initiatives, such as the KidsVote, which, in its first year, rallied over 2,200 young people to cast their ballot.
Rivera appeared in a Massachusetts Promise Fellowship promotional video along with Emma Rawls, former Fellow who served at Health Resources in Action from 2006-2008.
“I think you grow more than the young people that you work with do, honestly,” Rawls stated in the video.
Over the years, Fellows have helped launched countless initiatives including the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club and Northeastern University partnership, a collaboration that has leveraged hundreds of college student volunteers to support youth-serving programs at the Club; the Girls Inc. of Lynn College Mentoring Program, an initiative that provides high school juniors and seniors with caring adults to support them through the college search and application project; and A-VOYCE, a youth development project for young people living in Boston’s Chinatown.
“We’re all over the place and we really do our best to be statewide and serve as many communities as possible,” Colleen Holohan, Member Development Manager at Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, stated.
During their year of service, Fellows also receive one-on-one professional training, access to the ever-expanding alumnae network, and opportunities to take free courses at the undergraduate and graduate level at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies.
“They’re not just serving, they’re also having opportunities to participate in training, to be coached and given a lot of support around their professional development and meeting their personal and professional goals,” Holohan said.
“They’re either running a small program or [running] a piece of a larger program,” Kori Redepenning, Director of Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, explained. “So it’s a huge leadership development opportunity for the Americorps members.”
Fellows agree that a year of service can spark an enormous personal transformation.
“I came from a space that’s usually [one of] the communities [being] served,” Rivera recalled. “I grew up with a single mom. I grew up homeless. I ended up going to business school thinking that that was my avenue away from those communities…Then I was one of three people in my graduating class to pick service over profit, and it really changed my life. It reminded me that I spent a long time wanting people to care enough about my community, to invest in my community… I have now spent my life serving the communities I come from.”