The reason why I joined AmeriCorps is because I wanted to help decrease the dropout rate in schools. My hope is that I’m able to make a positive impact in someone’s life by showing concern and caring for a student or parent that may feel like no one is there for them. I work in our program’s call center and make positive and informative phone calls on behalf of schools to inform parents about their student’s attendance. I inform them on how their child is doing and, if they need help with issues they may be having, I refer them back to the school’s social worker or psychologist for extra help. I enjoy the interaction I get with parents as well as my team members because it helps me to try and understand all types of people and different backgrounds. One of the things I enjoy about working in the call center is I’m there to listen to parents whenever they aren’t happy about something having to do with their child’s school, giving them time to vent is always important. I try to let parents and students know how important it is for them to take advantage of the education that they are being offered. Another thing I do is I get to go out within the community and visit with parents to let them know how their child is doing so they can put a face to some of the people that call them; we call these home visits.
Working for AmeriCorps has been fun and at times challenging because I think about how I grew up and it’s hard for me to not get irritated when I see the amount of absences some students have. I was always told that having an education is the most important thing in life and the only way to get ahead. One of the things I think is cool about AmeriCorps is that it has given me the chance to experience new things, such as going to the AmeriCorps state conference, this year it was in Buena Vista, CO, where I met all kinds of people and made new friends.
I am really glad that I was giving the opportunity to work for AmeriCorps despite the fact that I’m blind. I have an Eye condition called Retinopathy of prematurity. “(ROP) is a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants weighing about 2¾ pounds (1250 grams). This disorder—which usually develops in both eyes—is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness.” I am able to see light and shadows out of my left eye and nothing out of my right eye. I refuse to let the fact that I’m blind keep me from living life to the fullest. I am able to use the computer with the aid of a screen reader called Jaws which stands for Job Access With Speech.
Growing up because of my blindness I didn’t really have allot of friends but I’m glad to be making new ones and being a part of such a wonderful program. One of the things that got me through school was whenever something was wrong I had someone to talk to who was there for me. I joined AmeriCorps because I want to help parents become more involved in their child’s education. I firmly believe in the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” and if the school and parents come together, children are more likely to succeed, especially if the kids know that people care for them.
By Jessica Saldivar