Small Access with Huge Impacts

Article Author: 
Deidra Rogers, CAC AmeriCorps VISTA Member 2017-2018

Since the start of my AmeriCorps VISTA journey, I have had an eager heart to serve and be of service to those who are in need.  What better way to do this than by assisting with making a difference in the life of a community helping individuals with their search for local jobs, or better yet, a career.

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My background lies in the non-profit sector working with adults with mental and physical disabilities.  Recently, I’ve made a career change and decided to use my skill-set to another degree through my role as Volunteer Job Coordinator with CAC AmeriCorps VISTA.  Over these past few months I have been able to meet some outstanding and beautiful people throughout Knoxville.  My heart and life has been touched by the impact of true service with CAC AmeriCorps VISTA.

My role as Volunteer Job Coordinator allows me the opportunity to meet and connect with three local community centers, as well as the residents at these community centers, in need of various resources and assistance.  I am able to go out to our local South and East Knoxville Neighborhood Centers to meet with my newfound colleagues to learn about the community, and the needs in the community, in order to gain a better perspective of what those needs are. This has guided my direction on where to begin our work with opening up access sites for job seekers.   After just four months, I have been able to connect with over 15 volunteers that have expressed interest in volunteering.   We have also been able to establish our first access site in South Knoxville.  The access site will serve as a mini resource hub for the American Job Center in which a computer and resources will be provided for job seekers.  These access sites at the local neighborhood centers will allow job seekers the opportunity to not only travel shorter distances in their search for sustainable employment, but will also allow job seekers the opportunity to work, one on one, with local volunteers to help assist them in their search.  Job seekers are able to have their resumes completed at these access sites,file unemployment, and conduct their weekly job searches.

At the grand opening of our first access site we had nearly 20 individuals attend the event and were able to assist five local residents in their search for jobs.  We look at these access sites as resources that provide our community the tools needed to help in their time of need of substantial work.

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Volunteers play an important and special role in how we operate our access sites.  Having volunteers on hand at both the American Job Center and our access points allows us the chance to really focus on what the job seekers are in need of when it comes to the type of work they are looking for, and how to find their desired work.  Each month I have been able to receive 2-3 local community citizens interested in wanting to connect and give back to their community through community service.  Our volunteers range from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets; everyone from bilingual individuals to retirees are interested in wanting to give back to the community and share their experiences and knowledge.  The impact the volunteers have has no price tag to it, yet it yields great benefits to all those involved; be it the patient caring ear to hear someone’s story, or the time invested to work on someone’s resume.  No act of kindness is too small in saying that “you matter,” “there’s still hope,” “you can do this.”  Overall, approximately over 100 individuals per week are being impacted through the services, commitment and dedication that our volunteers and resources are providing by the extra one-on-one assistance, as well as our access site now being easily accessible to local community residents.

The impact that all of this has had on me is life changing.  I would have not ever imagined nor thought that my life would be where it is at this moment.  I am so very thankful to be here in Knoxville and involved in such a needed area of assistance.  I know that my mission and purpose in life is to meet the needs of those in need and I’m glad to be doing just what I’ve been purposed to do.  It’s a beautiful feeling to be living in this moment and I am so glad to be living in it.  Being of service to others is my joy, not my job and I’m thankful to be able to do it.

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This blog post is a collection of personal reflections and expressions. All opinions represented are those of the author and do not represent the official opinion or views of the Knoxville – Knox County Community Action Committee, CAC AmeriCorps or any other party referenced.