It is hard for me to call anywhere but where I grew up home. I have lived in several places, but I have only really considered home where my family lives. For me, home is Cold Spring, NY. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay because I had never heard of Corning until I got a job and moved here after graduating college.
I began my career in philanthropy with AmeriCorps. As part of the “Kids First Initiative,” I was matched with the Advantage Program in Corning and placed with the Corning Youth Center in the summer. It was with these two programs that my love for this community truly blossomed.
AmeriCorps was a unique and perfect experience for someone new to the community. Members were placed at different youth serving agencies and gathered each month to share events, advice, ideas, goals, and hardships. The intimate setting of our small group seated around a table trying to tackle society’s biggest problems confirmed my career in philanthropy and taught me the importance of collaboration. We all shared the same passion for making the community a better place and thus fell into the same frustrations when things didn’t work out as planned. Through AmeriCorps, I attended trainings, volunteered with other members in their programs, and learned that there is an abundance of support in our community for individuals and families in all walks of life. The shared compassion of individuals in these organizations and their overwhelming urge to improve our community is where I found my direction.
My AmeriCorps term ended and I was at the foot of a crossroad with what to do next. I joined Capabilities, Inc. in Elmira and months later, destiny would lead me back to the Youth Center as the Program Coordinator.
In my new position at the Youth Center, I connected with other organizations, worked with funders, and learned more about the needs of our community. Words cannot describe the special place the Corning Youth Center holds in my heart. It is awe-inspiring to see the life, heartbreak, resilience, and positivity in both the students and the staff in a world that can be so cruel. Controlling what happens within the walls of the Center wasn’t always easy, but, with a little creativity and teamwork, we could handle almost anything. However, I had difficulty grappling with the world our students faced outside the Center. We could offer guidance and support, but these were all temporary resolutions for society’s bigger issues. That’s where the Community Foundation comes in.
Grateful to have connected with the Community Foundation on a variety of levels, I have always felt inspired by their mission and impact. The Community Foundation represents an air of possibility and hope for our community that is unrelenting and truly motivating. The staff are fueled by big ideas and optimistic dreams and materialize them into progressive movements that make our community a better place. I was lucky for the opportunity to join the team in the early fall as the coordinator for Rose’s Youth Philanthropists and could not be happier as I continue on as the program assistant.
So in the three and a half years I have been in Corning, I have had three jobs, worked with countless agencies, lived in four apartments, and found a home at the Community Foundation.