Guest blogger Coach Amy DeLair was one of 12 AmeriCorps members nationwide selected to meet President Barack Obama in the White House.
I am a Playworks Washington, DC
program coordinator in my second term of AmeriCorps service. I serve full time at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary School bringing safe and inclusive play to all students. Around school I am known as Coach D
and teach students lifelong skills such as teamwork, communication and conflict resolution through the incredibly powerful force of play. My service as a Playworks coach has forever changed my life and my perspective and reinforced my belief that service is necessary to truly be a member of your community.
I was incredibly fortunate to be selected as part of a group of AmeriCorps members and Corporation for National & Community Service representatives to attend a White House Roundtable on national service this spring. The group represented the 80,000 AmeriCorps members currently serving with organizations across the nation.
As we approached the White House, our group posed for a picture underneath the official West Wing seal. Then we crossed the threshold into the White House and into an unforgettable life experience.
At the Roundtable, I was asked about Playworks and how my AmeriCorps service has prepared me for my future. I explained how I come from a family of educators and my whole life claimed I would never be a teacher. However, after three years of working in nonprofit event management/fundraising, I realized my passion was not in the behind the scenes, but in direct service to people. And, I thought my love of working with kids and athletics would make me a great physical education teacher. After researching AmeriCorps programs where I could gain experience that would help me achieve my new goal, I was blessed to meet a Playworks coach who encouraged me to apply. The rest is history.
As an AmeriCorps member, I finally feel part of the city I’ve lived in for five years and a part of a larger community. One of the core values of Playworks is a healthy community. After nearly two years of service, I have helped develop healthy community within the four walls of my school building and beyond. It is imperative to have a healthy community in order for real progress to happen.
During the Roundtable Discussion, President Obama walked into the room. I was barely able to hold it together, shake his hand, and remember my name. He joined us at the table and listened intently to our stories of service. President Obama thanked us for our service to the country and encouraged us to keep serving after our AmeriCorps terms end. He applauded our perseverance, particularly when many of us face adversity in the communities in which we serve.
President Obama said AmeriCorps members all over the US were making change happen in their communities and each of us was laying the foundation for greater progress in the future. I was so inspired by his words of advice and honored to be a part of the entire experience.
The discussion confirmed my decision to serve in AmeriCorps and become invested in my neighborhood, city and country’s well-being. I hope more people in the US are willing to get out and serve in their towns so that we can all learn new skills, ideas and perspectives from one another. In my family we always say: “no events, no history.” This will go down as one of the most incredible events in my life and will always be a part of my history and my service story.
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