Great Story: The Day My AmeriCorps service became personal

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

Since the onset of my service with Guiding Ohio Online, I had been apprehensive about whether or not I would have the same sense of helping others that I had had with my last several jobs.  You see, I ‘m a social worker and had been working with people with disabilities.  I had gained a sense of being needed and of doing an enormous job, and a sense of pride in myself and eventually, I began to have the need to do even more.

     On my 6th day of service, after a quiet morning, a very small, frail, woman entered the library expressing the need to get connected to her children and grandchildren online.  As I asked her questions about what she needed, I realized that she had virtually no computer skills.  I was so eager to help her, but needed to start from the very basics.  I took her through the initial basic computer skills program and introduced her to the mouse and then the internet. After showing her how to connect with her family that was spread across the country, she seemed to relax. It was apparent that she was happy to be connected.

     As I was explaining what a search engine was and what it does, she asked me “Does this search engine take me anywhere?”, and of course my answer was, “yes”, and I began to describe some of the places that she could go. I asked her about some of her interests, she told me about some of them.  I showed her how she could access sites corresponding to her different interests, I showed her how people with the same interests share their ideas, and how she could go virtually anywhere in the world to find things that interest her.  She was quite impressed and she became very excited.  I began to see that I had been instrumental in changing her as yet, small world, into a much larger, more integrated, social world. I felt as though I had connected her to her family, and connected her to… everything.

I realize that not every encounter with patrons will necessarily be this profound, but, this same sense of helping others and of being needed.  I felt I was doing an enormous job. I had a sense of pride in myself. I think that this intrinsic need to do even more will be present during my service time.  I was now no longer apprehensive, and felt an integral part of changing my community.

Jeannette Bailey-Sigle