Thursday, February 14, 2019


Love More, Stress Less! 
Through my national service, I’ve learned that service is more than the day-to-day of what your site asks for. Service is building relationships, increasing morale, and creating a legacy; it’s  learning more about yourself.
Picture from
As AmeriCorps Leaders, we try our best to make the most positive impact on our host sites and on the people we serve through them. We spend time training and learning how to provide for our communities but it’s important to not let ourselves get burnt out.
At my site, the faculty and staff periodically host socials where we can check in with one another and try to have a sense of humor when construction at school gets disruptive. Just the other day, the Missoula Alliance Church came to one of these socials and gave us all free lattes to help keep our energy levels up as we engage with middle schoolers. It’s the little things that help us ground ourselves amidst hectic times. 

Other than free lattes, I have a few tactics I use to assist me in maintaining my mental health:

1. Practicing gratitude and meditation
This has aided me in my ability to help myself when I’m alone at my site. Breaths are like little love notes to your body so letting yourself breathe is a good start to your self-care routine. The same goes for gratitude, reminding yourself why you are here, how you got here, and what good you have in your life can make a bad day more manageable. There is so much to be grateful for!

2. If you are an outdoorsy person like me, hiking can create healing: 
I go on hikes when I’m not serving to help me relax. Hiking allows me to exercise, access more companionship, and take in good ole’ Vitamin D. It provides a space where I can just let nature nurture me.

3. Write down what you feel
: In AmeriCorps (especially as leaders) we are encouraged to journal about our experiences. This can be quite cathartic. It gets our thoughts and our struggles out of our heads and onto paper making everything much more manageable.

4. Reach out: 
You are never alone so please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you in an appropriate manner (do have boundaries for yourself and respect people’s limits). It can be hard to start service and not have a big social circle right away. I’ve found that joining MeetUp groups and talking to other leaders can be great ways to start building friendships.

5. Remember, everyone is different:
 It’s okay if none of these techniques work for you, just remember that your mental health matters! Not only is it incredibly challenging to help others without helping yourself, but your physical health can actually start to deteriorate when your mental health is poor. Stress weakens your immune system, so finding ways to achieve both basic and luxurious self-care is super vital for your service work and personal life.

Think of fulfilling your needs like a pie:
Each time you eat one piece of it (or fulfill one part of it), you get to have another piece. Needs-fulfillment pie is possibly even better than regular pie (stay with me here) because when you finish it, you feel rejuvenated instead of lethargic and too full to move. In my experience, as long as you have a balance with your service work and your self-improvement work, you’ll never be too full; rather, whole.

Here are some resources that have helped me and maybe they can help you! I’m mental health first aid certified and I want share things I actually use/listen to/read regularly:

And as always call: 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741, and look up resources in your area with this link: You are loved, valued, and never alone. I hope this article helps you or someone else. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


When setting out, pack light. What you anticipate isn’t what you find, and what you need is what you’ll forget; so in this case, less is more. When I departed Wisconsin for Montana, I fit my entire life into a Honda Civic, made the Fargo-Billing’s run in nine hours, and subsisted on a protein bar and a package of Corn Nuts. Along the way, I enjoyed a break at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. AmeriCorps called me because industry seemed droll. I went west because it seemed the thing to do.
More or less, that’s the story of how I arrived in Bozeman, MT one warm, dry morning in July.


The ensuing months were educational. I learned to live without a microwave and how apply for SNAP benefits. I studied small business, and how to spell the word enterpeneur entreprennure entererpernore ENTREPRENEUR! I brushed up on audio editing.

That’s because the work I’m doing in Bozeman is unique. Broadly speaking, I promote small business and entrepreneurship. Narrowly speaking, I produce a podcast for the Office of Economic Development  while also creating a business center at the Bozeman Public Library. But it’s the podcast that always grabs people’s attention.

The show is called micromegas, named after a short story by Voltaire. No need to dust off your French Literature Anthology; the title is meant to capture the fact that Bozeman is a micropolitan area able to punch above its weight, and that entrepreneurs are individuals who exercise an outsized impact. After all, they create more new jobs in America than all the established corporations combined.

Micromegas tells the stories of local business owners, whoever they are: Two Arizonan brothers who moved north for the skiing and stuck around to open a mac’n’cheese food truck. Or a Cambodian immigrant and business founder— who’s only lived here five years. And then there’s the young algae enthusiast developing a system to harvest Omega-3 fatty acids. The residents of Bozeman deserve the chance to be inspired by these stories so that they, too, can pursue their own business aspirations.

That’s where the Library comes in. It’s all well and good to be inspired, but without guidance, even a great venture can flounder. So, following in the footsteps of libraries across the nation, the Bozeman Public Library is working to get innovators and bold souls the resources they need to succeed. 

Bozemanites are fortunate for the caliber of entrepreneurial ecosystem that already exists here. So many local groups offer business mentoring and services that I don’t dare write a list for fear of leaving someone out. Of course, this makes my life easier because it means that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I have the opportunity of working with people who know more about running a business or planning a start-up than I could ever learn in a year.

I spend my time finding ways to work with local organizations for the benefit of all. Case in point, the consultation hours being put on by the Small Business Development Center and the MSU Blackstone LaunchPad. The Library is able to offer an accessible location and recognized name to complement their extensive business knowledge and venture coaching experience. By working together, we can reach more people and achieve everyone’s missions.

So what’s the moral of my journey? It’s truly a pleasure to be here, residing in a state that I might never have visited, honing skills I might never have learned, and meeting people who would otherwise be strangers. There’s a lot of value in that, and although I don’t expect to change the world through my national service, I do hope to change a few lives. If everyone gave that a shot, the world would change