As the saying goes, I was a fresh-eyed, bushy tailed college grad looking to make a difference when I first moved to San Antonio. Moving over 1,700 miles from my home in Pennsylvania back in 2002, I had no idea what lay ahead of me. I had never been to Texas before, and though I knew of the Alamo (and that it really didn’t have a basement – thanks, Pee Wee Herman!) and I had heard about this thing called the Riverwalk, I was shocked to discover the amount of love and pride the locals had for their city. I came to SA to serve as an AmeriCorps Member with Habitat for Humanity and my plan was to stay only a year; to complete my year of service and move on to something else. But through my service I discovered that I, myself, was becoming a local, and I was smitten for San Antonio.
I immediately fell for SA’s irreplaceable culture, fun festivals, and let’s be honest, the climate didn’t hurt either. What sealed the deal was my experiences through my AmeriCorps service, my volunteer “gigs” and my current position at San Antonio Youth Literacy (SAYL). Those experiences and relationships I built opened my eyes to a whole new side of SA.
I was drawn to the position at SAYL due to my own personal struggle with reading when I was a child. I struggled, I wanted to help other children in the same boat, but what I learned (and continue to learn) is just how real this issue is for thousands of children in our city (over 5,600 students in Bexar County are failing the 3rd grade Literacy test). I also saw that there were other San Antonians who were passionate about this. It felt that individuals and business were coming together to make a change, and it was exhilarating to see so many people with the same passion come together to make a difference. That energy was contagious, and for me just carried into my other passions.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in,” by Unknown. This is a quote I recently came across and I truly believe this. One vote can make a difference, but so can volunteering for a couple of hours for your favorite organization. What better way to show your love for your city?
Some people have one passion, whether its education, the arts, animals, etc. For me I have many interests that include education, affordable housing, animals, and the environment. I took that synergy from my past experiences and told myself, “why stop with just education? You can do more, and you can share your love with this city with others.” So, now I show my love for SA through, not just my work at SAYL, but through my volunteer service with some of my other favorite non-profits, including Green Spaces Alliance and Friends of Government Canyon. And with each organization and every volunteer opportunity I help with, I still see other San Antonians getting out there, making a difference, and loving this amazing city we call home.