Great Story

Great Stories are written by Guiding Ohio Online AmeriCorps Members about their service.

When I first decided on a career in IT, I really had no idea where it would take me; nor was I even aware of the existence of AmeriCorps.  I must admit that when I was given information about an open AmeriCorps position, I jumped at it because the stipend was appealing and the work seemed like something I could do.  Little did I know that my life would be so much better with that one decision.

 To say that I love serving in a library and working with the patrons would be an immense understatement.  I had not associated IT with the library, and didn’t realize that there is a place for IT people in public libraries.  Now that I have been serving at a library for over a year, I really can’t think of anywhere else that I’d like to work.  It’s just such a perfect fit for me, sometimes it’s unbelievable. 

Any time I have been asked how I would measure success in the future, I have always stressed the importance of being able to “give back” as a measure of success.  I have had so many years in the past when I have had to ask for help for various reasons from various sources and I feel that the ability to be able to reciprocate this help is high on my list of feeling successful. 

That’s one of the main reasons I am so grateful for AmeriCorps.  I have many small successes, and when you put them all together, it makes up the whole big picture of how wonderful it is to serve.  Some of my favorite accomplishments are when I give people the skills they need to seek employment.  Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that someone you helped apply for a job online, or compile a resume’ actually GOT a job.  I’ve had a few instances of this happening, even teaching an Amish man how to use the computer, which is way out of his comfort zone.  When the patrons I help come back to me and say they can’t meet with me anymore because they have to work, that’s success.  Another one of the patrons I helped needed to learn how to use Microsoft Office applications.  Now she is working in the school using the skills I helped her achieve.   It sometimes boggles my mind how appreciative some people are for showing them how to do something that just about comes automatic for me.  One lady was so grateful that I helped her fill out an application, that after she was hired, she felt the need to bring gifts of goodies and food to the library to show her appreciation. Then there’s the senior lady I help every week.  It made me smile to see how thrilled she was when she printed something out that she had done in her Word Perfect program. “I did that!” she said, proudly.  She was so happy to have accomplished something that to me seemed so little and insignificant. 

Over the course of my service time, I’ve had many stories such as these. I’ve also started the area youth on a path toward appreciating code and sharpening their STEM skills.  All of this is what I consider my way of giving back:  these scenarios and many more like them.  This is service at its heart.  This is success.

-Melissa Johnson