Name: Jerry Noviello
AmeriCorps Member: 2006-2008
Year 1: AmeriCorps VISTA in Pennsylvania
Year 2: CalSERVES Tutoring Team Leader at Wright Elementary
Current Occupation: Program Manager for the State of Washington, Traffic Safety Commission. I manage and oversee state and federal grants as well as 17 local traffic coordinators doing work in their communities. It’s all about Public Safety, and community focused.
What led you to AmeriCorps? Why did you join?
Volunteering was important to me. After college, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something different before starting my career. I found the AmeriCorps program in Pennsylvania. That position was serving in a rural community, working in a Middle/High school After School program. I loved the program, but I didn’t like the weather! So for my second year, I started looking for AmeriCorps programs on the West Coast. CalSERVES stood out to me because the program was well established, and they put a lot of effort into helping their members. It provided an opportunity to work with students, but I would also be part of a large team and have the support of working with other AmeriCorps members. I was excited to work with a new-for-me demographic and population.
What stands out in the lessons you learned as an AmeriCorps member?
I grew up in small college town in Pennsylvania, and my experience there didn’t have a lot of diversity. When I moved to California and worked with the CalSERVES students and families, I learned more about what poverty means, and what it means to be part of a migrant family. I had no previous exposure to those issues. It made me take a step back, and realize the different experiences there are surrounding us in this country.
How did your AmeriCorps Leader experience help your personal development?
Serving as an AmeriCorps Leader was my first time leading a team. My Site Supervisor was supportive of that growth in me, and the program helped all of us to grow professional skills. I had opportunities that led me to succeed later in my life. Now in my current job, I try to make sure my team members have the skills and opportunities they need to be successful and to grow personally and professionally. I take a servant leader approach, and that really benefits all of us.
How did serving in AmeriCorps help to shape your life path?
In AmeriCorps, I gained real world experience. I worked with kids, and that helped me to decide that working with students full-time was not for me! I learned that I liked leading a team, and I had opportunities for working with others professionally. I learned how to work through challenges. I was put in new and sometimes uncomfortable situations that required me to grow. Those are all experiences that you don’t really gain in college. My AmeriCorps service has given me an edge. My work now has nothing to do with serving youth, but my experiences have really benefited me.
What benefits do you see for your life after serving?
I’ve learned that one person can really make a difference. Lots of people want to make a difference in their community. It’s made me more aware that everyone experiences life differently, and we all have different backgrounds, strengths, and challenges for which we need to be sensitive. Before my experiences were so limited and narrow, but AmeriCorps opened me to knowing different cultures and realities. I am a more compassionate person for having served.
What advice do you have for those serving currently?
Enjoy it. Make the most of it. Develop relationships with the people around you and make the most of your AmeriCorps time – it goes by fast! Do as much good as you can and gain new experiences, and you’ll be grateful for the rest of your life.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My time as a CalSERVES Americorps member made a real and tangible difference, for me and others. I got to see kids grow academically through my service as a Tutoring Team Leader. I had opportunities to do volunteer service projects and connect families with services in the community during our AmeriCorps National Days of Service. With CalSERVES I had the chance to immerse myself in the culture and community, and that’s something I’ll always carry with me.