Making a Difference in Your Community 

By: Hope Schmiedeler

Making an impact on your community can happen in a variety of ways. For me, becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA at Family Scholar House was the first step on my path to make a difference in my community. After two years at Family Scholar House, I am sad to leave but I now feel prepared and excited to see what’s next! 

AmeriCorps members work full-time at nonprofits and receive a living stipend equal to the poverty line in their communities. This is done intentionally so members can experience what it is like to live frugally as the people we serve do.  It was challenging to adjust how I would spend money and maintain a tight budget. While our participants are learning and trying to achieve their goals, all are full-time students with children and many working part-time. Not without saying, they are still rock star students, and even better moms and dads.

The message I’m taking away from this experience is allow yourself to see your strengths and weaknesses as your keys to success. Family Scholar House believes in the power of education, second chances, and human resilience. We empower our student parents to be successful in every aspect of their lives and support them in every way we can. We bring about change, not only in their lives but in ours as well.  

As my 2 years of service and time at Family Scholar House comes to an end, I want to express my gratitude to AmeriCorps for providing this amazing opportunity not only to me, but to others across the United States. In my path to help change the lives of people in my community, I have changed. This experience allowed me to grow into the person I need to be to effectively make a difference. I am more resilient, aware, observant, and confident. 

Thank you to the staff at FSH, who work tirelessly to end the cycle of poverty for the families in Kentucky. And thank you to our single mothers, fathers, and young adults, who have shown me that the power of self determination makes anything possible despite all odds.