May 16, 2016
By Stephanie Grimes, City Impact Manager
“How’s the new job going?” is a question I have answered no less than 50 times in the last month, as I recently took on the role of City Impact Manager in Pittsburgh for The Mission Continues.
Over the years, I have lived in a lot of places and been in lot of roles. After graduating college, I moved to Philadelphia where I taught middle school as a Teach for America corp member.
A year later I married my husband, who was in the Army. We moved from one duty location to another for the next four years. I found meaningful work in a number of jobs supporting high risk youth, had a child of my own, endured a few deployments, and in 2011 I finally ended up in Pittsburgh upon my husband’s discharge from the Army.
Truth be told, we had never even visited Pittsburgh before making the jump. We crossed our fingers, told ourselves that we could make it through anything, and made our way through tunnels and over bridges to our new home. In the years following my husband’s transition from the military, our family fell in love with our new city of Pittsburgh.
On the rare occasion that 50 women gather together in the military, their male counterparts hover anxiously outside the room, wondering what conspiracies they must be plotting within. So you can imagine the awe and great personal fulfillment I felt when 52 women veterans from The Mission Continues – representing all five branches of the military – came together for the first time in April to share stories, to laugh, and to learn.
When I was in the Marines, we were taught to have attention to detail. It was a matter of life and death measured in seconds and the more attention we paid to the small things, the more we had a chance to survive. The emphasis on attention to detail also taught me to appreciate the little things like the biweekly paycheck, the honor of serving my country and of course, my prize possession, a Sony Boombox (yes you read that correctly…a Sony Boombox.)
I waited in line last month to board a flight and heard the gate attendant announce that veterans and active duty military were invited to board the plane ahead of the other passengers. I watched as several veterans made their way to the front to take advantage of this kindness. I held my place in line, waiting for my turn to board, and I was struck by how misdirected these kindnesses have become. I raised my right hand and vowed to serve the citizens of this country, not to be served by them.
World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but the fighting had actually stopped months earlier. According to an armistice signed by Germany and the Allies, hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
The following year, President Wilson declared November 11th as Armistice Day, forever marking its significance in American and world history. It was a day to honor the sacrifice and service of the men and women who fought in the ‘war to end all wars’. But, as importantly, it was a day to participate in exercises that promoted peace and mutual understanding – in hopes that conflicts so catastrophic would never happen again.
For the second straight year, Outside Magazine has recognized The Mission Continues in its annual Best Places to Work survey, which measures job satisfaction among innovative practices and a healthy work-life balance.
To Marvin Cadet, an Iraq veteran and member of the 2013 Bravo Fellowship class, the ranking is as accurate as it is unsurprising. He joined the team after his Fellowship ended to boost grassroots fundraising.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 221 passengers and crew boarded airplanes bound for Los Angeles, unaware that in just a few short hours the world would change forever, and that they would never reach their final destination. At the time, I was a senior in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University, uncertain of the significance of the World Trade Center Towers or even where they stood.
Four years later, by then having gazed solemnly at the gaping hole at Ground Zero in New York City, I was tasked to lead Marines across the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan in pursuit of the terrorists behind the attacks of 9/11. A year after that, I sat and sipped chai tea with villagers in Iraq who tried to convince me that the United States had planned the 9/11 attacks as a motive to invade their country, while I silently prayed that my Marines and I would evade the next roadside bomb and make it home safely to ours. Luckily, we did.
AmeriCorps turns 20 years old this week. In celebration of this program, and the more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members who have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America, our AmeriCorps alumni on staff offer their reflections and advice for new volunteers.