Travis is a recent graduate of the University of Montevallo. He received an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Philosophy and Literature. Travis recently joined the AmeriCorps team as the Communications Specialist at the YWCA and designs promotional material for Eclipse Coffee & Books in Montevallo.
“Have an unusual time.” – As far as I know, no one has made a popular claim to this quote. Regardless, I’m going to use it to open this, my first blog entry for the YWCA. I believe this has been my personal mantra whether I’ve always known it or not.
A lot has happened very quickly in my life, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This past May, I graduated from the University of Montevallo with a degree in literature and philosophy, so I’ve spent a lot of time with new, ever-changing perspectives and ideas. When most people ask me, “So what are you going to do with that degree?” I respond, “I’m not exactly sure, but I feel like I’m ready for anything.” So when I heard about the Communications Specialist position open here at YWCA, I was prepared to seize the opportunity. I knew that it would be a big change from the quiet campus life. I knew that it would be unusual compared to what I was used to, and that made it even more exciting.
I can comfortably say that I love not knowing what to expect in many situations. To me, it keeps the seemingly ordinary things fresh and interesting; it constantly requires new perspectives. This is the attitude I had yesterday when I went to my first AmeriCorps day of service, and it’s the reason why I and the rest of the AmeriCorps crew had such a fun time. It was our first day of off-site service, where we leave our ordinary duties and get more closely involved with our community. This particular day was also the 9/11 National Day of Service. The National Day of Service commemorates 9/11 by encouraging citizens to participate in community service all across the country. Yesterday was also part of the ongoing Empowerment Week – an initiative made by the 50 Years Forward campaign to raise awareness and pay tribute to the monumental civil rights events in 1963. With Birmingham being such an important part of that history, what better way to honor our progress than by continuing to move forward and bring our communities closer together?
My team of AmeriCorps members and I started our day bright and early at the sunny Eastlake Park. Being only a recent resident of Birmingham, I did not know much about the park, but I could tell that it was a longstanding part of the city’s history. Cleaning and brushing up around antique architecture of the park building gave us a sense of pride – that we were helping to keep a crucial community ingredient alive. The lake was beautiful, the weather was warm, and we were ready to get to work. Since most of us at the park are first-time AmeriCorps members, we didn’t know what to expect, but we didn’t let that slow us down. We grabbed paint, shovels, rakes and gloves and gave Eastlake Park a good sprucing. Taking our outsider perspectives, the potential to have an “unusual time,” we made our day of honoring 9/11 into something productive and enjoyable.
I believe that the rest of the crew that day would say that by opening up to having an “unusual time,” we all gained more appreciation for what we did and worked harder doing it. When we all keep our eyes peeled for new ways of looking at things, for opportunities to make our everyday lives new, we allow ourselves more opportunities to appreciate the world. The more we open up, the more world there is to enjoy. I’m ready to make this year with AmeriCorps and YWCA an open experience, and to appreciate and enjoy my time to the fullest.
The YWCA’s Building Communities, Bettering Lives AmeriCorps Program is possible because of a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and support from ServeAlabama: The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service.
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