Name: Callen Kurpinsky
AmeriCorps Member: 2000-2001 and 2002-2003
Year 1, Part-time Project SCHOLARS Tutor
Year 2, Promise Fellow Leader
Current Occupation: Program Specialist for the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. As a program specialist I work with States, Tribes, and Territories providing technical assistance, program policy/regulation, and improvement support for the Office of Child Support Enforcement in Region 9 in San Francisco.
What led you to join AmeriCorps? I was a senior at Sonoma State University and was interested in getting involved in the community. I saw a lot of AmeriCorps presentations about the CalSERVES programs while I was in school, and that really drew me to the program.
What was meaningful to you about your service? I think the fact that I was able to serve two years providing two completely different types of service was very meaningful. I was able to work one-on-one with children I tutored during my first year, teaching them literacy skills. And then I was able to coordinate a group of Promise Fellow members, providing them support and training during my second year as an AmeriCorps member. In both my terms of service I could see I was making a difference in my community.
Also, when I served, we had a really big group of AmeriCorps members, about 300. We would get together for trainings and Service Day events, and it was such an incredible feeling to be part of something bigger. The room full of members was a good visual for being one of such a large group of dedicated people who were getting involved in the community and making a difference.
What stands out in the lessons you learned as an AmeriCorps member? I learned how to be a leader. And I definitely learned how to multi-task! AmeriCorps helped me focus on what I wanted to do in my life, and it inspired me to continue to pursue an education. Before I served in AmeriCorps, I hadn’t thought about going to graduate school. Because of the examples of the people around me and the things I was learning through service, I went back to school and was able to complete a Masters Degree in Social Work.
How did serving in AmeriCorps impact your life path? AmeriCorps helped me discover my passion for working with children and families, something I continue to do today. It also created a job for me. I worked in the CalSERVES office for several years as a coordinator for the program after completing my AmeriCorps service. I created friendships with the people I worked and volunteered with that I will have forever.
What advice do you have for those currently serving in AmeriCorps? Enjoy this time! Sign up for every national day of service and all the extra things – it really is an amazing experience that you won’t have again, at least not in the same way.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? I can truly say that being an AmeriCorps member changed my life and opened up doors for me. It also made me understand the community in which I lived in a different way.