The Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation values the service of our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Sarah Myren. Sarah is working with IHAD for one year on projects that will help us better organize and track our volunteers and volunteer data, and she has been instrumental in planning the 2012 National Dreamer Conference, which will be held in Des Moines in July.
Read more about Sarah and AmeriCorps:
What made you decide to join AmeriCorps VISTA?
I fell in love with service and non-profit work during my undergrad years at Simpson college through service trips and internships. I met many prior VISTAs who were able to gain experience working at non-profits that ultimately led to full-time positions and I knew this would be a great way to gain that experience while learning more about the Des Moines community. It worked out that a great opportunity opened up at Children and Family Urban Ministries the fall after I graduated and when the IHAD position opened up, it was a way to work in another non-profit focused on education but learn slightly different skills along the way.
What book inspires you?
The Noticer by Andy Andrews is probably one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read. It’s about how perspective can have an incredible impact on a person’s life and the importance of taking a step back from a situation to look at it from a different perspective. I think if we all took the time to see something from a different perspective, there would be more understanding and positive growth in the world.
Are you involved in any networking organizations for nonprofit professionals, or other community groups?
I’ve been participating in DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) for the past year. It’s a group of non-profit professionals who work with volunteers and we meet monthly to network and grow professionally through workshops. I’m hoping to participate in a new networking group for young non-profit professionals in Des Moines as well. Outside of work, I’m part of a group, Iowa AIR, interested in sharing information about immigration and immigration reform in Iowa and around the country.
What would your theme song be?
A song by a Latino group, Tercer Cielo, called “Mi Ultimo Dia”. It’s about appreciating and being thankful for every moment. Living life to the fullest and not being afraid to pursue life’s adventures.
Your favorite spot in Central Iowa?
I have two “home[s] away from home” here in the Des Moines area. The first is in Grimes with my best friend and her family who have taken me in over the past couple years and the second is Las Americas-Trinity where I spend most of my evenings and weekends. As for public spots, I seem to split my time between Smokey Row coffee shop, Fong’s and restaurants like El Salvador De Mundo (Best papusas!) and my newly discovered fave, the Tamale Industry.
Best trip you’ve ever taken?
While I’ve had some awesome service trips around the US, the best trip I’ve ever been on was my semester studying abroad in Thailand. We became very immersed in the culture of our new Thai friends and the university where we lived and studied. Of course, the ability to travel by public transportation to Bangkok and any number of beaches was also a plus! Overall though, the best part was the time with our best friends from the Thai university and the family who’s restaurant we went to each night.
Any idea what your next big adventure will be?
Delving into the non-profit world with a full-time position is the goal, although taking that trip through Latin America isn’t very far off the top of the list!
AmeriCorps Fast Facts
- 775,000 Number of people who have served as AmeriCorps members since 1994.
- 1 Billion Total number of hours served by AmeriCorps members since 1994.
- 3.5 million Number of disadvantaged youth tutored, mentored, or served by AmeriCorps members in fiscal 2011.
- 3.4 million Number of community volunteers managed or mobilized by AmeriCorps members in fiscal 2011.
- $480 million Value of cash and in-kind donations leveraged by AmeriCorps members in fiscal 2010.
- 15,000 Number of nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations served by AmeriCorps members.
- $2.2 billion Total amount of Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards earned by AmeriCorps members since 1994.
- $7.6 billion Amount of AmeriCorps funds invested in nonprofit, educational, and faithbased community groups since 1994.
Want to learn more about AmeriCorps? Visit their website, americorps.gov.