More True Tales of Lives and Futures that were #MadeInAmeriCorps

AmeriCorps boots lined up for service
Katherine Parker

We’re sharing more stories of AmeriCorps alumni whose paths were influenced by national service

At the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), we are passionate about the work we do and the mission that drives it. As part of AmeriCorps Week – our annual celebration of AmeriCorps members, alumni, and programs – we are sharing the many ways lives and futures are being #MadeInAmeriCorps.

The following vignettes come from a sample of CNCS staff members who served in AmeriCorps and were transformed by the experience and lasting impact of service.

Dina Manco portrait

Dina Manco

Dina Manco served as an AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps member from 2016-17 on disaster preparedness and response efforts in Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi.

“My experience in FEMA Corps taught me to use my voice,” said Dina. “I made it a goal at the beginning of the year to volunteer for new tasks and build my communication skills. I pushed myself to take on different roles and responsibilities, which enabled me to develop my passion and enhance my skills in written communication.”

Manco found a way to combine her love of service and communication by working in public relations for local government, joining the AmeriCorps Alums DC Board, and in her current role as the Executive Correspondence Specialist at CNCS.

Kaitlyn Norden poses with fellow service member

Kaitlyn Norden

Kaitlyn Norden served two terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Manchester Homeless Services Center under the Catholic Charities New Hampshire intermediary in 2013-14, and as a VISTA Leader with Catholic Charities New Hampshire during 2014-15. She credits service as a big part of her career path.

“Even with a master’s degree, as a first-generation college student, I struggled to get my foot in the door in the professional sphere,” Kaitlyn said. “VISTA gave me the experience, the confidence, and the network I needed to turn my education and experience into a career.”

“I tell everyone I know who is just getting out of school or thinking about a career transition to consider AmeriCorps,” said Norden, who currently works as a Program Officer at CNCS. “You can make a difference, experience new things, and build your resume all at once. What a deal!”

Sumika Petrowski portrait

Sumika Petrowski

Sumika Petrowski served two terms with AmeriCorps VISTA with Every Person Influences Children from 2010-11 and with Afterschool Alliance as a VISTA Leader during 2014-15. Between her first and second terms, she attended graduate school and earned a master’s in public administration, with an emphasis on nonprofit management. After her second service term she was hired by Afterschool Alliance and then by CNCS in late 2016.

“My service taught me how challenging it is to live in poverty. In VISTA, members live at the poverty line to better understand the communities they serve,” said Sumika. “Once, I cried in a grocery store parking lot because I didn’t have enough money on my SNAP card to buy food. I also had my car window smashed in, property stolen, and a mice infestation in my apartment because I did not have access to safe, affordable housing. The experience of ‘choosing’ to live at the poverty level is something I will never forget. Many Americans do not have the option to voluntarily opt out of such circumstances and for that, I am humbled.”

Petrowski continues, “My AmeriCorps experiences motivated me to choose a career in national service, to help our country’s highest-need communities.” Petrowski is currently a Program Officer at CNCS Headquarters.

Sherry Petrowski poses in AmeriCorps classroom

Sherry Petrowski

Sherry Petrowski, mother of Sumika Petrowski, served two terms in AmeriCorps State and National with Char Em ISD at Central Elementary School in Petoskey, MI, from 2011-13. While telling her own service story, Sumika said, “One particularly interesting thing about my AmeriCorps story is I encouraged my mom to serve after she was laid off from her job and she became a two-time alumna with a rural State and National program, teaching children at the elementary school I attended.”

After Sherry’s service, she was hired by the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan, Inc., as a teacher’s assistant in their Child Development Center. “My mom bravely served in her late 50s, and through AmeriCorps, she was able to pursue a new career experience that wasn’t previously available to her,” said Sumika. “She truly is my hero and another reason why I love the work we do.”

Kayleigh Remavich poses with mayor during her service year

Kayleigh Remavich

Kayleigh Remavich served as an AmeriCorps VISTA from 2016-17 with the Center for Women in Charleston, SC. During her service, she often interacted with clients, volunteers, and the community, and as a result noticed a significant improvement in her written and oral communication skills.

“One highlight from me was participating in Mayor’s Day of Recognition (now called National Service Recognition Day),” said Kayleigh. “I met the Mayor of Charleston, who at the time was John Teckleburg (pictured with Remavich above), and spoke to him about national service and its merits.”

Remavich received non-competitive eligibility as a benefit of serving with VISTA and immediately pursued a federal career after completing her service. She was hired as a VISTA Member Support Specialist at CNCS in 2018 and says, “I truly believe the skills I gained as a VISTA member made me a much more competitive candidate and have greatly helped me in my current role.”

When it comes to national service, there are thousands of opportunities to choose from. Find the one that fits you and see how you can be #MadeInAmeriCorps. Visit our AmeriCorps Week portal to learn more about AmeriCorps and read more #MadeInAmeriCorps stories.

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