Chicago Cares is happy to welcome three new HandsOn AmeriCorps members for their 2011-2012 year of service. Today we’re talking to Jennifer Walker, who is working with our Youth in Service program. 

What made you decide to do a service year?
I heard about AmeriCorps through a college friend. I was really interested in service since I was in a co-ed service fraternity in college, and participating in community service was something I wanted to keep in my life. When I found out that not only could I give a year of service, but I could also work with youth, I knew that joining AmeriCorps was the right path for me.

Have you participated in any other AmeriCorps programs?
I have not. This is my first year in AmeriCorps.

Why did you choose Chicago Cares?
When I first heard about Chicago Cares I didn’t know much about it. As I did more research I liked the great reputation that Chicago Cares has. I also really liked what I heard about the Youth in Service Department. I went to college to be a teacher, so anything that is related to youth is a great opportunity for me!

Tell us about your favorite part of AmeriCorps so far.
So far my favorite part is seeing how dedicated everyone is to service. It is great to see a wonderful group of people that truly enjoy helping others and making a difference in their community.

What are you most excited about working on before your service year ends?
I am really excited to work with Chicago Public Schools. I miss being in the classroom sometimes and working with CPS students will be a great way for me to keep being involved. I am also excited to learn more about Chicago Cares and get more involved. There is so much that this organization does, I would love to see what else is out there.

What skills would you like to learn and take with you to your next job?
I hope to learn more about the issue areas of Chicago and help people overcome the stereotypes that they may have of the communities. I also would love to learn how to better educate youth about these issue areas and use the knowledge that I have obtained for future endeavors.

What are you plans for after AmeriCorps?
After AmeriCorps I hope to continue working for a nonprofit organization and work with youth or use my degree and become a Social Studies teacher.