Lily Ross is a GHCC sponsored AmeriCorps*VISTA serving at Arts on the Block.
About a year ago, I was graduating college and trying to figure out how in the world I was going to be able to pass for an adult. Entering the “real world” seemed like swimming past the dropoff in Finding Nemo. My greatest fear was “inking” and letting everyone know my secret- that I was scared out of my mind.
I was raised in Silver Spring, MD, but went West to earn my Bachelor’s in Journalism: Strategic Communications at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. After falling in love with service through my sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, and Hillel at Ohio University, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the not-for-profit world. A friend suggested that I check out AmeriCorps because of her great experience with NCCC. I found GHCC’s VISTA position with Arts on the Block and jumped at the opportunity to put my degree to work, serving in my own community.
Growing up, I was able to learn about different cultures and social issues from my diverse environment, but always felt uncomfortable about the noticeable opportunities gap. Arts on the Block invests in creative youth by empowering them with transferable career skills. I’ve spent my year of service working for Arts on the Block, using communications for recruitment, fundraising, and social media. It hasn’t all been easy, but I’ve learned countless lessons about how small nonprofit organizations run. Small capacity means getting creative with problem solving. Nothing is cut and dry and staying flexible is key.
My favorite thing about my VISTA work so far is that i’ve been able to get a sense of who I am as a professional, a leader, and as a person working on this “adult” thing. Recruiting for AOB’s Pour Your ART Out workshop was a great experience, but it didn’t alway come easily. I visited six high schools including my alma mater, Montgomery Blair High School. Going back and presenting to the class of my former ceramics teacher made me feel like I was playing dress up in a big kid life. Luckily, I realized just how grown up and rightfully un-hip I seem when an AOB participant was surprised I’d heard of Coachella.
During my year of service, I’ve created digital campaigns, integrated online platforms, recruited over 100 creative teens across Montgomery County and DC, and even figured out my own healthcare coverage. Basically, I’ve accomplished hardcore grown up stuff. I’m a more confident and If VISTA’s taught me anything, it’s to just keep swimming.