Strangers in Service

by: Brad Gordon  

The extent to which citizens in this country get involved with national service is somewhat underestimated. More people do their share to serve our country than one would expect. I discovered this first hand last week while doing a supply pickup for my team at the Cassville Walmart. As we were exiting the store, an elderly couple approached us and began to comment on our A’s. People regularly ask us what the A represents, or what organization we are a part of. My first assumption was that this woman and her husband wanted to know what the A’s were, but before I could begin to answer, her husband pulled back a flap on her jacket, showing off two AmeriCorps Vista pins that she had been wearing.

I was shocked and simultaneously overwhelmed with joy to meet this elderly woman, who had served just like me. My team began to converse with her as she told us stories from her time serving with AmeriCorps Vista. Our conversation was short and sweet, but I could surely tell that her time serving had a strong and lasting impact on her. To this day, years after her service, she still goes out to town with an A on. We said our goodbyes and parted ways, but still, the interaction feels a bit surreal. It was nothing short of great.

One day when I’m an old man, I hope to spot a group of young adults sporting A’s in a rural grocery store. I’ll go up to them and flash an AmeriCorps pin if I’m lucky enough to hold onto one for that long. I’ll tell them about the women I saw with an A in the Walmart all those years ago. I figure it’ll make a good story. Maybe even a great story.