Rachel Hilton was a student at Montgomery Community College when she learned about Community Lodgings. Rachel desires to be a successful professional in the non-profit field. Community Lodgings serves as a stepping stone and the opportunity to make an impact on the next generation.
Check out our interview with Rachel!
Q: How did you discover Community Lodgings?
A: When I was a student at Montgomery Community College, Public Allies came to my school to recruit at a career fair and I applied. Public Allies is usually a 10 month service project at a non-profit or community organization that offers leadership and professional training. It was a long process but I interviewed with Public Allies first and then I interviewed with a few organizations based on my interests. I was not the first choice for the other organizations but I was Community Lodgings’ first choice. And that’s how I discovered Community Lodgings.
Q: How have you seen the children grow since working with them?
A: I’ve seen them grow in their math and reading skills and watched them mature. There are a lot of shy kids and I’ve watched them get out of their shell and become more social. I’ve also seen more kids learn to value themselves. For instance, one of the girls was cutting herself because of stress from family issues. I encouraged her and explained that she was harming herself and the people around her. Since that conversation, she shared with me on multiple occasions that she stopped cutting herself and is working on her emotions. I’ve seen middle and high school students take their school work seriously. They do their homework before they do anything else.
Q: What have you learned from serving at Community Lodgings?
A: I’ve learned how to have patience especially since I live in DC, close to Maryland. It an hour and half commute. Community Lodgings has helped me get outside of my comfort zone because I do not like public speaking. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at the Open Doors Breakfast Fundraiser. I’ve learned to work with different personalities. Even though the staff is small, each staff member and volunteer has a different personality. Before coming to Community Lodgings, I did not like working with children because of a previous experience. Community Lodgings has taught me to pay attention to children, to value them, and appreciate their efforts.
Q: After your 10 months of service ended, you decided to stay for another year. Why?
A: I extended my service with Community Lodgings because I felt like needed to learn and grow more and take the lead on projects. I spent my first year getting familiar with the organization.
Q: Would you recommend to someone to volunteer or become a Public Ally for Community Lodgings? If so, why?
A: If you want to enter the nonprofit field and gain experience, being in AmeriCorps is an opportunity to grow in your skills and make connections. It’s a great pathway to the field. But as a Public Ally, you will have to sacrifice your earnings because the program is similar to an internship. So, you have to be really passionate about it because there are rough moments. I recommend this opportunity to college students. If you love children, then I would recommend it especially for the youth education program. The children are great and I’m not saying it just to say it. If you want to help children grow mentally, socially and academically, you should get involved. We have a mentoring program too so if you want to inspire and teach children, you should definitely become a volunteer. Instead of wasting two hours at home doing nothing, those two hours can be dedicated to a student in need.
Q: What words of encouragement would you like to give to the students you work with?
A: Keep practicing, if you can’t do a multiplication problem, every time you do it, you will improve. Practice makes perfect. Don’t give up!