MLK Day of Service represents much of what RISE AmeriCorps Members stand for as they serve diverse, underrepresented communities across Iowa.
To celebrate the holiday, four RISE AmeriCorps Members shared their thoughts on the meaning of service and their experiences with RISE through written and video reflections.
RISE AmeriCorps Members Kamaura Kim with ArtForce Iowa and Fatima Tahir with Kirkwood Community College:
RISE AmeriCorps Member Amanda McVann with EMBARC Des Moines:
Looking back, I think my whole life has been dedicated to the service of others. Helping other people when they need it most is almost an autonomic response for me - it’s like breathing. I can’t function in a world that allows injustice and oppression to continue on without resistance, so I’ve made it my mission to help uplift voices and experiences from those on the margins.
By serving with RISE AmeriCorps, I’m able to engage with members and leaders from diverse, creative, thriving, and inspiring refugee communities throughout the Des Moines area. As a newcomer to Iowa, I’ve felt warmly welcomed to the EMBARC team and feel valued for not only my previous community leadership experience but also my passion for social justice and creative writing skills. Overall, I hope that through my time with RISE AmeriCorps that I am able to continue uplifting other people’s stories and experiences that further empower and develop their voice as well as their communities.
RISE AmeriCorps Member Nafissatou Lamidi with Hoover Community School:
For me, serving is leading an impactful life. It’s a life dedicated to helping, enriching, and improving disadvantaged people’s lives. It adds value to others.
Serving with RISE has impacted me in many ways, but the most important is my personal growth. I am part of the community I am serving, so I also face some of the barriers at points in my life. By working daily to help remove those barriers for others, I’ve learned a lot. I get to improve my problem-solving skill set and I feel empowered and more integrated now.
One of my first cases was to help a kid and his mom set up a doctor appointment for his eyes after his teacher noticed that he had difficulties following along in class. But the mom didn’t have insurance and can’t speak English. Therefore, I helped her apply for insurance, called hospitals to set up an appointment and went in with them as an interpreter. Now the kid is the best student in his classroom. It was an enlightening experience to me, because I couldn’t stop wondering what they would have done without me. That’s when I told myself, “I want to keep doing this. I am sure there are many more family like this one who
needs assistance and I want to help.”
For me, service is very important because I want to live a meaningful and fulfilling life by adding value to other’s lives around me as much as I can, whether it is through service, policies, or entrepreneurship.
RISE AmeriCorps Member Julia DiGiacomo with EMBARC Des Moines:
For me, MLK Day of Service is an annual reminder to reflect on the civil rights movement and the importance of always striving for social justice and community service. Activists like Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for underrepresented communities in the United States to gain rights and a better future. Since RISE AmeriCorps serves immigrants and refugees who still experience huge barriers in the United States, I think that recognizing and learning from past movements for social justice is essential.
The popular saying, “It takes a village,” truly exemplifies the meaning of service to me. As humans, we rely on one other to lend a helping hand in times of need. Therefore, I believe service is the lifeblood of a healthy, thriving community. All of my service experiences over the last decade have been extremely formative for me and I feel fortunate to be able to continue contributing through RISE AmeriCorps’s mission of reaching immigrants and refugees in need.