Community service brought me to SPEA. I remember checking the website as I was applying when I came across a page that said, “SPEA warmly welcomes AmeriCorps alums” and “SPEA strongly encourages Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to apply.” I thought to myself, “this is a perfect place for me!” Having done several AmeriCorps programs around the U.S. and the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, service had been a big part of my life. It was important for me to go to a school that valued my service experience and no other schools were as welcoming as SPEA.
At SPEA, I am a member of Service Corps. SPEA has partnerships with non-profit and public organizations in the community and, as Fellows, we work 10 hours per week at our placement in exchange for partial tuition remission and a stipend. The program allows you to continue building professional skills while going to school. My placement is in the City of Bloomington Community Family Resources Department’s Safe and Civil City Program. I work there twice a week helping coordinate projects like Read for the Record and the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement. Working for the City allows me to participate in community events and celebrations like the Multicultural Expo and Black History Month.
There is always something going on in the community. The city maintains a listing of all the ongoing and one-time volunteer events and it is easy to search and sign up for opportunities. Before I even moved to Bloomington I signed up for my first volunteer event at the farmer’s market cutting tomatoes for the “Tomato Tasting.” Serving in the community is a great way to make new friends and put into context many of the things we learn at SPEA. Whether it is Service Corps, START, service alumni groups, or individual volunteerism, if you like living in a place with many opportunities to serve, you’ll enjoy living in Bloomington.