In October of 2010, I found myself recently graduated from college, working a minimum wage, horribly dull job. My major was in anthropology and I was stuck reading residential water meters. It was a decent enough job for the summers between school semesters, but not what I had in mind after earning my degree. I knew that I wanted to work for a non-profit organization and help people, but wasn’t sure what kind. I had considered the Peace Corps, which I would have loved because of my background in anthropology, but I spent a lot of time helping my mom take care my grandparents and so did not want to leave the state, let alone the country. I began applying for jobs at various non-profits, but didn’t receive any calls for interviews. I almost gave up until I saw a newspaper ad for an AmeriCorps opportunity which was located not far from my home. I was discouraged, but the thought of working outside, reading water meters during winter in Michigan really motivated me to apply.

Now, I am in my second year in the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps, serving at the MSU Extension in Macomb County. I help our wonderful, overworked, yet dedicated foreclosure counselors in addition to providing intake and triage for new clients. I maintain our agency’s client referrals in the Step Forward portal and am responsible for making that first contact to homeowners who may have been declined from the Hardest Hit program. I am also proud this year to represent my AmeriCorps program in Michigan’s LeaderCorps, a statewide effort to promote AmeriCorps and service in general.

Of course things often turn stressful given the uncertainties many homeowners face, but at the same time this has allowed me to greatly improve my people skills. I am now more comfortable in difficult situations and have gained some much-needed confidence in my abilities. Whether it’s helping a homeowner who has a sheriff’s sale scheduled next week, or just guiding a caller in the right direction, I actually feel like I know what I’m doing. Unlike past jobs, I feel that my service is both helpful and valuable. It has been a very constructive and satisfying experience, personally as well as professionally. At a time in my life when it seemed like nothing was going my way, I was truly fortunate to have received this opportunity.

Natalie Ciampichini is an AmeriCorps member at the MSU Extension in Macomb County.

This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.

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