Michigan's AmeriCorps Alum Spotlight
After living and teaching in Tanzania, Africa, Jessica Young returned to the United States and jumped into a growing service industry. After a few years of feeling unfulfilled, Jessica began volunteering as a tutor in the Literacy Center’s Adult Tutoring Program in Grand Rapids. This volunteer opportunity led her to their AmeriCorps program, where she served three terms with the Family Literacy Program from 2011-2014.
“AmeriCorps allowed me to focus my time and energy on a mission I was passionate about, and it brought out the best in me,” Jessica stated.
The Family Literacy Program (FLP) helps struggling students achieve the reading skills they need to move ahead and helps parents improve their literacy skills, set life and career goals, and develop their English language abilities, while learning the importance of parental involvement. The program's unique approach to educating parents alongside their children ensures that parents are invested in their child's learning and school experience, which results in improved literacy and children's academic success.
Jessica also served as the Family Literacy Program representative on the Michigan’s AmeriCorps LeaderCorps. LeaderCorps provides an opportunity for one AmeriCorps member from each program to take a leadership role within their program by serving as a liaison between their team and the Michigan Community Service Commission.
Jessica reflected on the impact her service had on where she is today. “AmeriCorps genuinely changed the direction of my life. Through AmeriCorps and LeaderCorps, I gained the experience and made the connections that I needed to make a career in the nonprofit sector and find a job that I love.”
In 2014, Jessica accepted a job as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Heart of West Michigan United Way where she continues to promote service and volunteerism. “Working closely with the Volunteer Center at Heart of West Michigan United Way allows me to promote a spirit of service every day! I constantly tell anyone who asks for advice, is searching for meaning, or wants to change their path to start by volunteering.”