It’s AmeriCorps Week and all of us at the Children’s Literacy Foundation want to recognize the efforts of our AmeriCorps VISTA Danny Giancioppo, who is serving CLiF through August 2022. Today he reflects on his experiences as part of our team. Thank you for all that you do, Danny!
For the last six-and-a-half months, I’ve been serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA alongside the Children’s Literacy Foundation, helping in a capacity enhancement role to promote the alleviation of poverty through educational, literary means. That sounds like a mouthful–and it is–but if I can be candid, that isn’t how I see my role here at CLiF.
Although I am “serving” through AmeriCorps (serving being in quotes because, if it were “work,” I’d never be legally allowed to be paid $7 an hour for a 40-hour position, with no ability to unionize, but I digress), I see myself as a part of the CLiF team.
I’m a 22-year-old with a Bachelor’s degree in English. A young man who has been reading passionately for the last several years of his adult life, and writing since he was 15 with the hopes of telling his stories to the world. A motormouth with no ability to stop himself when he gets on a roll. An idealist by nature, and a creative person who loves to see the story in every person he meets. How could the Children’s Literacy Foundation not be the perfect fit?
Every member of CliF’s small team of five (six, counting me) is a dedicated, passionate, creative bright spot in the world of literacy. My time with them has allowed me to get to know their stories, to know them as people, and to learn from them as mentors from a personal and professional lens. In collaborating on assignments big and small, I have seen how CLiF treats each job with an equal level of importance. From outreach emails and phone calls, to book ordering, stickering and repackaging; from sending thank-you letters to donors, to making sure to say hello to volunteers every day; reviewing grant applications, and attending events where we see the joy on kids’ faces when they hear they get to choose and keep the books we’ve brought them.
During my time with CLiF, we’ve managed to get together twice in person for extracurricular activities so far, but even through our many Zoom calls, the genuine care and kindness for one another is palpable. Despite being an AmeriCorps VISTA, I am treated by all as a true team member.
I graduated from college not knowing exactly what I would do next. I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. The Children’s Literacy Foundation has been an invaluable resource following my undergraduate studies, because it has not only shown me my options, but the value of giving every assignment your all, the importance of having a healthy work environment, and how to utilize my skills for the right reasons.
I’ve developed my communications and marketing skills, honed my editing and writing abilities, and gained an in-depth understanding of nonprofits. I’ve seen firsthand the importance of early education and literacy opportunities for children, and implemented my undergraduate studies into the work that I do and the way that I do it.
At CLiF, every child matters. Every book matters. Every job matters. Everyone matters. I still have another five-and-a-half months left with CLiF before transitioning to my next adventure, but now, during AmeriCorps Week, I wanted to reflect on the work that I’ve been doing, and how invaluable it is to me as a professional, and as a person. What stories do I have left to discover in my time with CLiF? I’m not sure, but I am excited to find out.