"It is the little steps in life"

AmeriCorps Member Migdalia

Migdalia shared her story of service as an AmeriCorps member. Her term offered ample opportunities for professional and emotional development, and provided a resource for local children in need.

"My AmeriCorps service included a 300-hour term as a tutor at a middle school working with students who were getting low grades or needed extra help and mentoring. The staff at the school were very kind and friendly. Everyone wore a smile and said hello to a new face. It was a very comfortable setting. I was given a room across from the office where I would do most of the tutoring either by myself or with another tutor.

I learned all sorts of things from the students during my time as a tutor. One of the main things I learned was that each student was coming from an entirely different lifestyle. Some kids were from families that moved a lot and so they would have trouble fitting in. Some kids came from families that were enduring extreme financial hardships. Some kids had parents who were always at work and had very little time with their families. The lesson I learned was that the kids need compassion. They need people that not only care about the grades they are getting, but also someone to listen to them and understand their problems.

For each student, I tried to offer some sort of mentorship. I would ask them about their futures such as what colleges or careers they would be interested in. I tried to get them to see that though they may only be in middle school, time flies, so it is important to start thinking ahead. Some kids already knew what they wanted to be while others needed some extra thought. I also tried to remain on an understanding level. For example, for the kids that were coming from difficult lives, I tried not to push them too much. I wanted them to work at their own pace.

I had many cases where the tutoring would help, and a student would pick up their grade. I also had cases where the student did not have enough motivation to keep trying for a better grade. These cases I tried not to take to heart. I did not blame myself or the student. I would remind myself that I cannot help everyone, however, maybe some of the helpful life advice or tutoring helped a few and changed their lives. That was what kept me going in my service.

It is easy to feel like you are not making a difference and that nothing is changing; however, it is best to remain positive and think about the ways you are making a change in people’s lives. It is the little steps we take in life that, once at the top, we see how far we have come. My service was one I will always appreciate and remember as I continue my life after AmeriCorps and with the United Way of Porter County."

For more information about the AmeriCorps program, contact Maddie Grimm, AmeriCorps Director, at maddie@unitedwaypc.org or 219-464-3583, ext. 105.

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