My Story…Jamie Herdt
Jamie is currently serving at United Way Lake County Reading Success in Gurnee, Illinois. Jamie is currently pursuing a graduate degree in social work from the University of Southern California and someday hopes to continue her work in helping children and families in impoverished communities.
I have read so many profound blogs about the various projects my fellow VISTA’s are working on that I wanted to also touch on a subject that was equally as important. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” Tolstoy. At PSO Atlanta, I considered myself to have a pretty decent understanding of poverty however it wasn’t until I began my work with HandsOn Academic Success at United Way of Lake County’s Reading Success program, that I was able to take a more in depth look at the issues surrounding poverty and education.
A little over two years ago, I switched majors and focused my undergrad degree on social work. At the time, I felt subject to typical stereotypes and generalizations of those in need. “If they would only work harder, or everyone has the same opportunities in life” little did I know in a few years how completely different my outlook would change. I am writing this out of fear that I will come across as selfish since I am spending more time talking about myself than the program that I am associated with. I believe all of us feel we are making a difference in our communities, which is amazing but I wanted to touch on something more meaningful and share the impact this year has made on me and most importantly my family.
I have had writers block these past few weeks and have struggled with the “meat” of what to write about. Typically we are taught to write what we know about, what I know about is the military lifestyle. Although, I am the only one in my family to vow a year of service within my community to combat literacy and poverty, my family has served right along with me. Being a VISTA at United Way in Waukegan, has allowed me and my family to experience a new culture. As part of the military, our family doesn’t typically become stakeholders outside of the gates in which we live because our stay is only temporary. However, in just that past few months my families has spent more time in the area of which I serve, then we ever have at any of the places we have been stationed. Being affiliated with AmeriCorps and United Way has done more for mine and my families life than I could have ever imagined and I am forever in service to both organizations.
United Way of Lake County | Gurnee, IL
Direct: 847.775.1013 | Main: 847.775.1000