Monday, December 10, 2018


I find myself at odds with how to really convey much of anything in this blog.  I’m here to serve, I felt a call and had to find where that call was coming from.  I’m almost thirty with 3 kids and I’m married.  I used to sit in a cubicle and sell insurance over the phone and I was good at it.  I can connect with people quickly and serve his/her needs in about twenty minutes, another ten to get the policy or policies rolling and after 11 hours in the building I would clock out and go home with my wife. We would pick up our 3 beautiful kids and make dinner and eat, snuggle play games do bath time.  In the back of my mind, I was losing it.  I was fighting a losing battle with depression and put on a smile.

As a dad, I felt a call to be better.  As a husband I heard a call to be better, and as a patriot I couldn’t ignore the call to do better.  So I started looking, high and low, for a cause.  I looked at the UN, never heard back from that application, I looked at politicians running for office in Colorado that I could get behind, I looked so much that I lost my heart and felt nothing but a deafening call to be, what, better?  My depression and anxiety was giving me a run for my money, I was having panic attacks in my car on the way to work.  One evening I read my emails and one said, “ Hey, finish your application please. We think you’d be a good fit for this position.”  So I jumped up in my kitchen and let out a squeal.  The bird squawked at me, my dog was on alert and my wife looked at me from across the table like I was crazy.  My heart was racing as I finished the last bit.  A few days later I was having interviews for Montana and Colorado, I had this amazing opportunity at my feet.  I moved before I received the offer, in fact I was leaving Colorado Springs the morning Lana sent it to me.  My response was a picture of the UHaul.  I fell in love with Missoula just reading about it, I had to do something different and had several interviews lined up.

The best part of all of this is that I’m here right now, getting things done.  I am able to be better as a dad, as a husband and do better as a patriot.  I grew up learning to love my country, not just the land, constitution, flag or consumerism but the people.  We are all connected to one another.  We all have a stake in what is happening.  I was never able to serve my country the way my dad, his dad and his dad, so on and so forth did; but this is my way and my path.  It’s narrow right now but at the end of it are endless possibilities.  What is giving my heart and mind a rest is knowing that what I’m doing here matters.  Being a Leader, taking a huge cut in pay and dragging my family over a thousand miles was worth it.  I’m making a difference,  I’m proud to be a part of something larger than myself and to push it forward.  I appreciate being able to show my children at an early age what service is.  I also serve in a very cool host site and have felt like a kid in a candy shop the whole time.

I think the point here is that this service has helped me take care of not only my adopted community of Missoula, but also myself and my family.  The service is the true reward.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Amber Dechaine“None of us understand what we are doing, but we do beautiful things anyways” -Allan Ginsberg. 

That is how my year of service began. Confusion and chaos amongst paperwork and packing boxes. I was unsure of what I was committing to and how I would budget bills and expenses with only a living stipend at my disposal. It wasn’t until orientation that it began to sink in. Three days spent with people I have never met. Team building, sharing meals, service learning. In those three days we learned about our mutual connection. The passion to give something of ourselves to those in need.

“Some people like neat suburbs. I always am attracted to the rundown and the old and the offbeat.” – William S Burroughs. 

A background in social work is what I brought to my service project. An education in how social injustice has been the foundation of our society. My career path has been an investment in serving the underserved. Hearing the stories, and the trauma, and the confusion, and the tears of the “rundown and the offbeat.”

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” – Jack Kerouac

I landed at the Montana Career Lab, a unit inside of the Research and Analysis bureau inside of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. I had no background in career development, I had no background in labor and industry. I had only the experience that at the age of 18 I had no idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. How could I commit four years to one degree when I didn’t know if I would use it, how much it would cost me, and if it was something I would remain passionate about for years to come.
I have come to realize that I landed at the Montana Career Lab because I wanted to make that experience better for others.
While serving with the Montana Career Lab I have been able to work with their newly developed curriculum called “Careers Build a Community.” This curriculum was developed to help expose youth, in first through third grades, to the concept of careers and the idea that every career is valuable inside of a community. So far, my service has allowed me to network with educators and parents from an age population that the Montana Career Lab has not yet connected with. We have attended conferences, spoken to organizations, and I will soon be putting the curriculum to use with afterschool programs throughout the Helena School District.
For me it has been difficult to see other AmeriCorps leaders working with students daily and doing very direct work. Part of my inspiration to serve with AmeriCorps was to get that direct experience with youth and to make a lasting impact on their lives. My background in social work allows me to take a step back and understand that I AM making an impact. Creating change on a larger, more macro level so that students for years to come can better understand what a career is and the value of exploring these ideas through every step of their education.
So not only do I get to work on implementing change on a larger scale, but this winter I will also get to directly work with youth on a part time basis. Perhaps the best of both worlds.

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in and take responsibility from there.” -Gary Snyder

I don’t know if this is “my place” but I do know that every step along this journey, things have fallen into place. My decision to serve with AmeriCorps, move to Montana, and dedicate my time to helping students of all ages gain access to career development resources, all this coming together makes it feel like a custom fitted experience, tailor made for my journey.
“And so love goes. And so life goes. And so I go.” -Neal Cassady

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Clark

Emily served as both an AmeriCorps Leader at Montana Campus Compact, and later as a staff member! Of the service year, Emily said "I was able to witness inspirational community service occurring across the vast state of Montana. MTCC college student members served a breadth of community needs: from health classes at the Poplar Wellness Center with Fort Peck Community College to the TRIO peer tutoring at UM Western in Dillon. MTCC fostered collaborations between non-profits and college campuses to meet community needs and encouraged student members to be proactive citizens. I feel fortunate to have met many engaged and charitable Montanas while working for MTCC."
Emily is currently a hydrologist with WGM Group, Inc..Thanks for your service, Emily!

Alumni Spotlight: Sydne Campbell

Sydne served as a Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Fort Peck Community College from 2004-2005. Of the service year, Sydne said "It helped me to be able to work with those from other areas of the United States and see what we do have in common as one. It gave me a positive encouraging push to strive to help others in a positive way. It helped me to give back to my community and the organization."
Sydne currently works as a Legal Assistant/Administrative Assistant at the Fort Peck Tribes Chairman's Office. Thanks for your service, Sydne!

Almuni Spotlight: Katie Koga

Katie served as a Campus Compact AmeriCorps Team Leader at The University of Montana from 2010-2011. Reflecting on the service year, Katie said "This experience helped shape my view of public service and what it looks like for different individuals. Following my time with Campus Corps, I transitioned to working for a social justice organization, addressing issues of prejudice, oppression, and discrimination. As I'm transitioning to a career in healthcare, my service experience continues to strengthen my commitment to work that serves and benefits the public while engaging me as a community member."
Katie is a current student at the University of Montana, in the pre-nursing program. Thanks for your service, Katie!

Alumni Spotlight: Jon Stephani

Jon served as an AmeriCorps Team Leader at The University of Montana Western from 2009-2011, and was a staff member at Montana Campus Compact from 2013-2015. Reflecting on service, Jon said "I would not be where I am today without my experience with the Montana Campus Compact. My two years of National Service set the stage for my future career. While serving, I was involved in many training and development opportunities that allowed me to build skills in Situational Leadership, Group and Team Dynamics, and Project Planning and Implementation. National Service pushed me to become not grow professionally, but to become a better person. As a staff member for the Montana Campus Compact, I was able to pass on the same passion for national service and skills to other National Service Members. In a sense, I was able to pass the torch to a new generation."
"I am eternally grateful to the Montana Campus Compact for all the opportunities that were provided to me. I developed a deep sense of community involvement that I have carried with me into a new career. The Compact instilled the desire to serve my community, and to make the world around me a better place."
Thanks for your service, Jon!

Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Gardner Newbold

Jennifer was an AmeriCorps Leader with the University of Montana Campus Corps from 1999-2000. Reflecting on service, Jennifer said "It really solidified in me a sense of responsibility to my community. I was always civic-minded, but my second year with AmeriCorps as an AmeriCorps Leader with Campus Compact really instilled in me a lifelong sense of duty in me. I think that’s because I developed a deep appreciation for service through my time with AmeriCorps. You see so many needs met, but also so many needs left unfulfilled. You learn that you actually can – and do – make a difference. It also helped me develop many professional skills that I rely on today – particularly understanding how different personalities can work together and how positivity and organization really do help you get things done!"
"I feel I can say with confidence, that without my AmeriCorps experience, my life could have taken a different path. The opportunity to engage in something meaningful after finishing college, but before moving on to the next phase of my life, is something I will always be grateful for. AmeriCorps is a unique experience, and one that without a doubt, shaped who I am today."
Jennifer is currently an attorney with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thanks for your continuing service, Jennifer!