BY SATHIYAN SIVAKUMARAN, HUBCAP III AMERICORPS VISTA, THE HUB
It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m nearing the end of my year of service with The Hub. We recently had the final staff meeting that the current VISTAs, Breanna Collins and myself, would attend. As we received cards with heartfelt messages and indulged in cake and cupcakes from the amazing staff, I thought back on my year with The Hub and what brought me to where I am now – a VISTA concluding his year of service, with a new understanding and appreciation for community development.
I grew up in Weston, West Virginia. What did I do after I graduated high school? I went across the country to major in Economics at a university in California. I graduated college, and then I was left wondering what I wanted to do. I had this degree in Economics, but I didn’t know what path I wanted to take; all I knew was that I wanted to do something fulfilling. Eventually, my brother mentioned how AmeriCorps VISTA opportunities are across the country and have the single mission of fighting poverty.
I knew immediately that if I wanted to be a VISTA, I wanted to serve in West Virginia.
I landed a spot as The Hub’s Communities of Achievement Program (HubCAP) VISTA. When I found out I got the position, I was a whirlwind of emotions ranging from happy and excited to nervous and anxious. This was my first position where I felt I would be making an impact, and with that comes more responsibility. In my first few weeks, I attended multiple conferences and meetings where I quickly realized something: I had a lot to learn.
As the year progressed, I learned a variety of skills, including meeting facilitation, grant-writing, tracking program data, event planning, and even a bit of improv tricks.
Six months in, and I knew everything about community development right? Good joke, I know.
I continued to learn from my meetings in Matewan, Hinton, and Whitesville, the three communities I worked the most directly with. I learned from meeting the teams from Princeton and Richwood. With everyone I talked to, from community members to technical assistance providers, from city government officials to Hub staff members, I gained just a bit of insight into the expertise of every one of these people. I grew to appreciate what all of these people offer the state of West Virginia.
My year of service concludes with a new network of people who have changed my entire mindset and life.
I’m greatly appreciative of the community members from Hinton, Matewan, Princeton, Richwood, and Whitesville who continue to put forth massive amounts of effort to improve their communities and still try to thank me.
These community members are people that represent the best of West Virginia, and my life has improved drastically from getting to know them. Thank you!
The Hub staff has been incredible, supporting me throughout the year and in my post-VISTA pursuits. My supervisor, Kaycie Stushek, has provided me with invaluable guidance through conversation and example. I’ve been very fortunate to have spent the past year with The Hub in my home state of West Virginia. Wherever I go, I will take the memories and lessons learned from the past year with me. And to anyone considering VISTA: I can think of no better place to serve than West Virginia, at the WV Community Development Hub.
Inspired by Sathiyan’s story? We have two VISTA volunteer openings at The Hub right now! Head to our Jobs page for details »