The Stevenson Center’s Fellows programs draw those who are committed to development, service, and engagement with the local community.
Fellows come from all walks of life from across the country, from far-flung states like California to places much closer to home.
One Fellow, Jack White, is a native Illinoisan hailing from Champaign, less than an hour from Illinois State University.
Unlike many Fellows, White found out about AmeriCorps through the Stevenson Center, instead of the other way around.
“During the visit [to the Stevenson Center] I found out that AmeriCorps or Peace Corps [or similar] service was a requirement for the ACED program, and I learned more about what each organization really does. After that, I started to look into AmeriCorps programs and really came to like what the organization did, and all the different ways AmeriCorps offered the chance to serve,” White said.
Some time spent volunteering at a school in Peru for displaced peoples further strengthened White’s desire to serve.
“This was where I realized that I wanted to have a career that had a positive impact on communities. I think that I knew, by joining AmeriCorps, that I could build on that foundation of wanting to impact communities while being exposed to various types of nonprofit work,” he said. White served with AmeriCorps NCCC in 2018-2019: his team completed projects needed by several communities across the Southwest.
With a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in anthropology, White joined the Stevenson Center to pursue a master’s in anthropology.
As a second-year Fellow, White is currently completing his 11 months of professional practice with the City of Bloomington Township (COBT), where he serves as the Workforce Development Coordinator. COBT is a new Stevenson Center partner. Among other projects, White is developing the curriculum and manual for the wellness lifestyle series of classes.
“The series is a way for COBT to offer workfare for recipients who are unable to perform physical labor. The series promotes healthy eating and active living with a focus on holistic health. During non-COVID times, this includes classroom instruction and hands-on workshops outside of the classroom,” White said.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has not made serving easy, and White, like all Fellows, has had to adapt to the changing environment.
“The part of my work that has been impacted is working with community partners and the public. When we have met in person, we have had to socially distance and wear masks. When we have not been able to meet in person we have had to adapt to virtual meetings. This has posed a challenge due to many of the participants not being familiar with Zoom. It has required patience and understanding of the familiarity they have with technology and even if they have access to the technology required,” he said.
Challenges aside, White enjoys working with COBT, and he offers advice for those interested in the Fellows programs: “It is an incredible experience, so go do it.”
Dani Park is the Stevenson Center’s public relations graduate assistant.