AmeriCorps members Jacqueline Sturbaum, left, and Kristen Magyar
Kristen Magyar and Jacqueline Sturbaum are finding that their year-long commitment to AmeriCorps is more fulfilling than they ever could have envisioned. And they are just getting started.
The two women are AmeriCorps College Completion Coaches at Terra State Community College. Besides providing one-on-one academic coaching and skill development workshops for students, they are also charged with organizing and implementing community service opportunities.
Magyar, who graduated last May from Terra State, was a peer tutor last year and sees some of her AmeriCorps work as an extension of that.
“I had a lot of obstacles and barriers while I was a student,” she said. “For these students, I want to be the person that I wish I’d had to help me through.”
What she has discovered in a short period of time, however, is that she’s getting far more than she’s giving.
“When we went to our first meeting in Columbus, I realized that this was way beyond peer tutoring,” Magyar, of Port Clinton, said. “I was going to be a part of something bigger than I could imagine. Volunteering and organizing the projects makes me feel a part of something so gratifying. Now it’s not just a thought but I’m a part of it.”
For Sturbaum, a Sandusky resident, serving has been on her radar since high school.
“I knew that the military wasn’t a fit for me but I wanted to find a way to serve my community and my country,” she said. “AmeriCorps not only allows me to help students here on a daily basis but I’ve also been able to direct community service projects.”
Sturbaum said she’s learning new skills while learning to apply the skills she already has.
“We are helping students set goals, big picture goals. We start with a five-year plan and then set a plan for this semester,” she said. “It’s very uplifting. Some have no idea and it’s fun to draw that out. Others have everything planned down to the finest detail.”
So far, besides their work with Terra State students, the two have organized a 9/11 service project at the Liberty Center homeless shelter and have presented time management and study skills workshops.
Their next big project is a week-long observance of Make a Difference Day. On Oct. 21 and 24, they will host events that champion two Michelle Obama initiatives – “Choose Your Plate” (nutrition) and “Let’s Move” (fitness).
They are looking for volunteers from the campus and community for a service project on Oct. 25 at Pontifex, a community outreach program in Fremont. From 1:30 to 4 p.m., volunteers will perform general light duties.
Sturbaum and Magyar will also be organizing service projects for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, AmeriCorps Week in March and Global Youth Service Day in April.
“AmeriCorps gives us the time to plan and think about service,” Sturbaum said. “Our whole focus is how best to serve people.”
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I am able to help,” she said. “There was one point, as a student, that I needed help. Now I’m helping others and it’s enriching. I am making a difference every day.”
AmeriCorps is a program of the U.S. federal government engaging adults in intensive community service work with the goal of helping others and meeting critical needs in the community. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps.