AmeriCorps Week March 8-14, 2020 (Jennifer Balbuena)

My experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden in the “Walk with Me” mentoring program has been a growing and humbling experience.

Starting a brand-new program with no best practices to base off of and learning what methods work for our program has been challenging. Also, there are not many AmeriCorps VISTA’s who are a part of a mentoring program.

My role in the mentorship program increased my confidence in the work field, giving me patience and perseverance. The experience has helped me with my professional and personal development, my ability and willingness to improve. Creating the foundation of the mentoring program made me love working with the youth and rest of the community. Also, working in a team has helped grow connections with the community of Camden.

My goal has been to have a positive impact on at least one child’s life. I want the child to learn from the program and use it in their daily lives. My goal is never to transform an at-risk youth to so-called “perfection.” However, I do teach them that trauma doesn’t define their future and they can change the transgenerational trauma.

My experience with AmeriCorps VISTA has helped me be open minded in learning new experiences. I am very proud of the work my team and I have put into this program and look forward to the growth of the program! This will be an experience I will always cherish!

“I didn’t grow up having role models. I grew up having people I didn’t want to be like and seeing situations I’d never want to be in. Not all of us are dealt the right cards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reshuffle your deck for a better outcome.” – Anonymous

Jennifer Balbuena
Mentor Coordinator
Walk with Me Mentorship Program
Family Strengthening AmeriCorps VISTA
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden