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In their Words...

"It's been a big year, going through the ups and downs of Covid life, but there is hope here at Community Connection! Over the past year we've delivered 50 grocery bags per week to our community members.”

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Volunteer Profiles - Meet Anne-Marie

In their Words...

"It's been a big year, going through the ups and downs of Covid life, but there is hope here at Community Connection! Over the past year we've delivered 50 grocery bags per week to our community members.”

The Volunteer Center’s Community Connection mental health family of programs was unbelievably lucky to get Anne-Marie as an AmeriCorp VIP member during the tumultuous year we just had navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. Anne-Marie began her year of service in the Community Connection program just as the pandemic was starting. She was instrumental in the pivot of services Community Connection was required to make in order to keep the community safe. 

Anne-Marie jumped right in to help ensure Community Connection continued providing the most critical services during such scary and uncertain times for the mental health community. Initially that meant helping out with food distribution. When the community was ordered to shelter in place, vulnerable Community Connection participants and County Mental Health clients with food insecurity were literally isolated in their homes with no way to access food. Community Connection, with help from Anne-Marie, provided regular healthy food distribution and delivery services to these community members. 

“It’s been a big year, going through the ups and downs of shelter in place life, but there is hope here at Community Connection! Over the past year we’ve delivered 50 grocery bags per week to our community members.” States Anne-Marie. 

Anne-Marie mobilized and trained community volunteers to help in this effort. These volunteers were, and still are, instrumental in delivering food to the most vulnerable folks in the mental health community. Anne-Marie calls these volunteers “super servers of the community”, volunteering at multiple organizations with a passion for providing food to those in need. 

While it wasn’t part of her official year-of-service duties, Anne-Marie immediately was inspired by Community Connection’s wonderful garden at the Santa Cruz, Harvey West Blvd. site. She could often be found helping out in the garden. 

“Community Connection inspired me to become a gardener,” states Anne-Marie. “Before coming to Community Connection I had never planted a flower in my life. I built a huge garden at my house and now I have giant sunflowers and other plants growing. It’s one of the new things I learned how to do during Covid.”

While mobilizing food delivery volunteers and improving the Community Connection garden were great learning experiences for Anne-Marie that in turn made our community better, the main focus of her year of service was in mentoring a group of seven UCSC undergraduate psychology student interns in their field study program. This is where Anne-Marie’s passion lies and she is no stranger to working with young adults. For the past 10 years, before her stint in the AmeriCorps program, she had been working with 18-22 year olds as a professor & lecturer. 

During their field study, Anne-Marie taught the UCSC students about motivational interviewing and trained them on making mental health check up phone calls to isolated participants. For a generation of young people more inclined to text or DM, trying to connect with a generation and population of community members with limited technology and a very different communication style, the project was a huge learning curve on both sides of the phone calls, but one that the UCSC interns took on enthusiastically. 

Anne-Marie thinks it’s extremely important that college students complete a year of service or an intensive internship where they truly immerse themselves in the field of work they want to learn about. As someone with her own impressive credentials, a masters degree she completed in New Zealand and a PhD she completed in Australia, Anne-Marie feels it’s equally important for students to learn while immersing themselves in service as it is to learn from their professors. 

“In the future it would be great if students were required to serve their community for one year before they graduate,” states Anne-Marie. 

 

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Give Your Time

READY TO GIVE A YEAR?- Learn more about the Volunteer Center AmeriCorps VIP program.

FIND YOUR CAUSE: Still trying to discover your passion? Explore volunteer opportunities currently available.

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