Helping Our Neighbors

Photo of Madalyn Shircliff at Bridging The Gap ("Building recovery fellowship through one on one contacts")
Madalyn Shircliff at Bridging The Gap (BTG) in Augusta. (BTG is a low-barrier community resource serving individuals and families who are experiencing poverty.)

During my time with AmeriCorps, I’ve reestablished my connection with the feeling that I can make a difference. I found peace in seemingly minor actions, serving my community in small ways and actually seeing the impact that I could make.

I have learned so much about the people here in Kennebec County, about what drives them and what they need. I’ve heard incredible life stories, been told the most exciting dreams and goals, and met people who have such a strong desire to create positive change. These connections have reignited my ambition as well as my optimism.

My service varies day-to-day. Some days I am recruiting and talking to college students who are seeking ways to volunteer, other days I’m creating flyers or scheduling events. I’ve often found myself in the role of just talking to people to help answer their questions about taxes, tax credits, and financial resources for our CA$H Maine project. But between all of these and any other roles I’ve taken on, at the end of the day, I get the satisfaction of knowing that what I’m doing matters.

This year, the biggest lesson has been that, though one person can’t change the world, it’s not always about the big picture. Sometimes the best thing we can do is help our neighbor and, more importantly, to listen. It’s not always easy to make that shift in perspective, but it’s crucial if we want to keep fighting.

By Madalyn Shircliff, AmeriCorps VISTA 2021-2022 College Access and Success Coordinator, New Ventures Maine, UMA