My last year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member has been a balance between the microscopic and macroscopic pictures that illustrate poverty and hunger in our communities. Like a photo lens, I can zoom into a very specific story and then zoom out to the larger societal canvas. When I zoom in, I am working with Community Resource Navigator Volunteers at the seven human services county buildings across the Denver metro area. Because they are in different counties, each office serves a slightly different community while dispensing lots of energy with each personal interaction. The people in these offices are the ones who, day in and day out, help low-income applicants navigate through the often overwhelming and confusing process of applying for public benefits. These are the experiences I value most because they keep me grounded with the community I serve. It also allows me to hopefully lighten someone’s day.
The times that I am not in a county office, I am shifting my focus to the larger canvas. Stats, data, and process changes are abundant in the non-profit and human services world and demand constant attention. Since the volunteer program started a few years back, county volunteers have assisted with 11,128 applications. That means 11,128 individuals hopefully had a better day because someone who had the energy was able to guide them to needed resources in their community. Though stats speak to volume they don’t disclose the individual stories that create that stat. This is one of the largest take always I have had from my past year and one that I hope to carry with me throughout my life.
Written by Hannah Rogers, Food Assistance Navigator and AmeriCorps VISTA member.