WORTH THE WAIT

Volunteer calls AmeriCorps a life-changing experience

By GARY TAKACS ’06

When Patrick Fahy ’08 received the letter notifying him that, after a year on the waiting list, he had been accepted into AmeriCorps’ inaugural class in Vicksburg, Miss., the sport management graduate did not realize he was about to embark on the most rewarding experience of his life.

As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Patrick Fahy ’08 (left) built ramps,
renovated bathrooms and went door-to-door in New Orleans.

As a volunteer with the federal program fostering community service across the country, Fahy spent 10 months on numerous “life-changing projects.” “I joined to see more of the country and to become a better leader,” he said. “In the program, we embrace everyone around us, and we learn how to work, live, play and coexist.”

Fahy and his team traveled around the Southeastern United States working in AmeriCorps’ core service project areas of the environment, education, disaster relief and unmet human needs. The first stop of his 700-service-hour commitment was with a nonprofit organization in Mississippi, where he renovated residential bathrooms and built ramps for wheelchair accessibility. Another assignment took him to flood-ravaged Atlanta working with a nonprofit relief organization renovating damaged property in a Jewish community.

Later, he was stationed in post-Katrina New Orleans’ 6th and 7th wards, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity on basic construction projects. He also surveyed New Orleans residents door-to-door about their ongoing essential needs and living conditions. “Interacting with the residents and hurricane victims and hearing their stories was more than I thought I’d get out of this experience,” Fahy said. “AmeriCorps provides a constant experience where you continually meet citizens in need and witness those needs firsthand.” He also worked as a mentor and tutor for a Boys & Girls Club in Georgia.

After completing his AmeriCorps commitment, Fahy is using the tuition assistance he received in exchange for his service to attend an outdoor educator program this summer with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming. There, he will work toward earning his wilderness first responder outdoor certification on a 30-day backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains. “This experience with AmeriCorps has helped me open my eyes to take advantage of every opportunity around me,” he said.