March 8-16 is AmeriCorps Week, a time to thank members for their service and highlight the great work they do nationwide. As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, CEDAM is running a “Where are they now?” blog post series, featuring four AmeriCorps alumni who served with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps during the 2012 program year.
Angie Pollema, a former volunteer with Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), hit the ground running when she joined the organization for her AmeriCorps term. While there, she helped numerous Grand Rapids residents stay in their homes. Following her AmeriCorps service, she worked with another local nonprofit and eventually moved to Los Angeles where she has a career as a producer. Angie credits her AmeriCorps service for teaching her to manage work-life balance and helping her pursue her dream of working in entertainment.
How did AmeriCorps impact the trajectory of your life and your career?
After my term, I shot and produced a short film for a local nonprofit. This served as the transition between my end of AmeriCorps and moving to Los Angeles where my life is now. The money I made not only helped fund my drive across the country but it felt like such a natural transition out of my service term and into my life as a film-maker.
Are you still living in Michigan or has life taken you further afield?
I studied Film Production and Writing at GVSU so my plan was to always move out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television and film which is where I am working now. I’m primarily a freelance Producer but I’m currently working on the scripted true crime drama, Dirty John.
What skills did you gain from your time serving as an AmeriCorps member and how are they benefitting you today?
My time in AmeriCorps has greatly informed my career in entertainment. It’s not glamorous at all and I typically work 12+ hour days, rain or shine. Comparing the challenges now to my time in AmeriCorps is not hard to do since I really learned work-balance during my term. I worked full-time at my site and also had a 20-25 hour/week job on top of that. It taught me how to manage my time and make sure I always prioritize myself when I was so busy prioritizing the people at my site that I was helping.
What advice would you give to a potential AmeriCorps member?
It’s going to be hard. Very hard. You’ll have to say no to going out because you don’t have enough money. You’re going to have to check in with yourself emotionally because it’s going to be draining. At the start of your term make sure all your good friends and family know what you’re going to be doing for the next year and that you’ll be on food stamps and that they understand what kind of commitment you made. I did this with my friends and family and they would always try to make plans we could do for free or my family would invite me over for dinner. For the first 4 months of my term I was couch surfing and didn’t have a permanent address but luckily a lot of great people opened their homes to me.
CEDAM is celebrating ten years of AmeriCorps with the 2019-20 cohort! We’re marking the occasion with a blog series and alumni events, spending some time reflecting on the past, and looking into the future.