While taking a break from school to decide what I want to do with my future and looking for a short-term job that would give me professional work experience, I ran across a one-year volunteer position with AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way of Salt Lake. It was a program I knew next to nothing about, and an organization that I only heard of by name. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) is the domestic version of the Peace Corps. We provide indirect service by creating and expanding programs support that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. United Way of Salt Lake was a great place to do this service, as it is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve lives and build strong communities by uniting individuals and organizations to solve community problems. One of my most favorite volunteer opportunities as a VISTA volunteer was the Granger Mobile Food Pantry. Once a month at the Food Pantry, volunteers have an opportunity to help set up and distribute food to families and children in the community. On my third time volunteering for the event, one afterschool student looked at me with a smile on his face and said “My mom would be so happy with this food.” That was the moment I realized how important this work is and how wonderful the people we serve are.
Throughout my service year at United Way of Salt Lake, I learned much more than I imagined I would. Not only did I learn about UWSL, the work we do, and how our work helps support our community as a whole — but I’ve also learned a lot about professional development and work experience. I’ve gained a better understanding of the community I work with, the challenges faced by the community, and possible solutions to those challenges. I feel like I have made a difference in the life of at least one person.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at UWSL. My experiences here were amazing, enjoyable, and professionally rewarding.