Being a fresh college graduate is intimidating territory to traverse. Many friends and acquaintances pursued looking for their "dream job," some considered a break, and I had to figure out where I fit into this mix, and what exactly I was supposed to do with the next step in my life. The concept of a year of service had been on my mind for a few years as I connected with mentors and engaged in Campus Ministry. As I entered my final year of college, I knew I had to take the thought more seriously and research potential programs. I must admit this was scary and nerve-racking, as this decision would affect many aspects of my life, but I also believed so deeply in my heart that I was meant to do something different. Here's a look into how CAP stood out to me to fulfill my desire to serve.
Building a Career Path
With the program of Elderly Services, I saw an opportunity to dedicate a year to the population of vulnerable older adults—an area in which I have always wanted to work, but had not yet had the opportunity. I believed that committing to this program would allow me the time and space to develop the necessary skills to work with this population, should I choose to pursue such work in my future endeavors.
Faith and Community
I found CAP to be a very unique service program as it encourages us to live in community with fellow volunteers. I had spent my time living in dorms in college, so it didn't seem like a crazy stretch. I saw a great benefit in this aspect—to be able to come home from service to others who might just get it could really help on the hard days and could be a system to uplift and encourage as we engage in various service positions. With CAP, I believed there would be an opportunity to foster individual growth while being immersed in and supported by a faith-driven community. I haven't always been easily open with talking about my faith and the true importance it has on my outlook, but I sincerely want to incorporate my beliefs more resolutely into my work, now and in the future. As I look ahead, anchoring myself into a faith-perspective is also a tactic in self-care that ideally prepares me to handle the risks associated with burnout in the general field of Social Work.
Environment and Privilege
A huge part of the draw to CAP for me was the organization's regional focus on Eastern Kentucky. The state of Kentucky alone was entirely unfamiliar to me, so with a few general searches, I started to envision myself 2,500 miles away. Some people choose service abroad, but I started to learn that there is similarly severe poverty right here in the U.S., and that disturbed me. I have been incredibly privileged throughout my life with a loving family, fantastic education, and access to the basic necessities and resources. I can't help but thank God that I have also been gifted with a drive to simply do more.
I don't believe that I will change the world, but I do believe that I can make pockets of small change that matter. I have an energy and a zest that encourages me to step outside of my comfort zone—it pushed me here to Kentucky with a purpose to serve and grow.
Shannon Scruggs is a one-year volunteer and AmeriCorps member serving in CAP's Elderly Services program in McCreary County. If you want to learn more about volunteering with CAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.