Chicago Cares AmeriCorps Role: Youth in Service HandsOn AmeriCorps Member

In honor of AmeriCorps week, Chicago Cares staff members sat down with each of our 5 AmeriCorps members to find out a little more about them and their service year. Here is what Joyce Cruz had to say about her experience so far this year. 
How did you hear about AmeriCorps and what made you decide to do a service year?
I heard about AmeriCorps through a friend that was doing AmeriCorps*NCCC. I was about to graduate from college and wanted to stay involved in volunteering and motivating others to get involved in their communities. 
Have you done any other AmeriCorps programs?
Before Chicago Cares I was an AmeriCorps member with NCCC in Sacramento, CA.
What drew you to Chicago Cares specifically?
At the end of my NCCC 10 month commitment, I started looking at other AmeriCorps opportunities closer to home. I found the posting for Chicago Cares through the AmeriCorps website and started to research the organization as a whole. I was really drawn to Chicago Cares and their Youth in Service program because of their commitment to teach the value of volunteerism to youth.
Tell us about your favorite part of AmeriCorps so far.
My favorite part of NCCC was the program really helped challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone and to learn how to live and work with the same people for our entire service year. So far, my favorite part of AmeriCorps with Chicago Cares is working with people in our office to come up with creative new ideas and then putting them into action. I no longer look at an idea and think, ‘how will that work’. Now I think, ‘how can we make this work’.
What are you most excited about working on before your service year ends?
Definitely Summer of Service. I’m really excited to be immersed in the schools we’ll be working with. I think it will be great to see the students really think about the issues in their communities and learn how take the actions to address them.
What skills have you learned in your year that you’ll take with you to your next job?
I’m less awkward talking to strangers. I’m a lot better at things like cold-calls, asking people to step up and lead projects, and building relationships with volunteers and community partners. I’ve also learned a lot about marketing, and how you present a volunteer opportunity in different ways to different people.
What are you plans for after AmeriCorps?
I would like to keep working for in the nonprofit field. I think eventually I’ll go to graduate school for a social service related career.