AmeriCorps Appreciation Week — thank you Melissa Cruz!

CVNL welcomes all to join us in celebrating AmeriCorps Appreciation Week. The work our VIP AmeriCorps members are doing day in and day out is truly impacting our communities in a big way. We want to give a huge thank you to the over 80,000 AmeriCorps members serving communities throughout the U.S. #AmeriCorpsWorks

We sat down with our Volunteer Services AmeriCorps Member Melissa Cruz to learn more about her experience with the program and what she’s learned so far.

What first brought you to the AmeriCorps Program?

I actually started at CVNL as an intern 2 years ago when I was a senior attending Dominican University of California in Marin County. When I graduated from college, they decided they wanted to keep me around to continue to help the Volunteer Services department, so they offered me their AmeriCorps member position for the Volunteer Infrastructure Project, in which AmeriCorps members provide capacity-building support for volunteer programs in service organizations across California.

How long have you been serving at CVNL?

This is my second service term at CVNL. I came back again this year to serve as the Team Leader for the new Marin County VIP cohort, which has AmeriCorps members serving in Marin, San Francisco, and East Bay nonprofits.

What’s your favorite thing about being in AmeriCorps, and your work with other nonprofits?

I personally enjoy our big Days of Service projects. It’s a fun way to switch up the typical work day, while also getting to interact with both enthusiastic volunteers and appreciative nonprofit partners in a very personable way. You get to see and participate in the direct service work at these projects, which I don’t always get to experience at CVNL.

What are the most exciting things about the AmeriCorps Program for you — how do you see it making impact on organizations and individuals?

I think it’s exciting that the VIP program has made its way to Marin County and the surrounding Bay Area. Last year I was the only VIP member in all of Marin County, but this year I have gotten to see CVNL’s cohort of AmeriCorps members doing impactful, meaningful work for their organizations here in the community. It’s exciting to see the work that they have accomplished so far. We’ve also been getting a lot of interest from organizations to participate in next year’s service term, so it’s great to see the opportunity for the program to continue grow even more.

Do you have any recommendations for people or organizations looking to engage in the program?

I would say to organizations to be open-minded and dedicated to engaging with the program. It is definitely as much as commitment for the organization as it is for the AmeriCorps member, so organizations should be ready to show the same level of dedication and resolve in improving their volunteer program. Supporting their AmeriCorps member is also crucial. The program is most successful when people invest the time and care into the member and the work they are doing. And to the people looking to engage with the program as a future AmeriCorps member, I would like to say thank you for making that decision.

Signing on to do AmeriCorps is kind of a leap of faith, and I admire all the people who take that chance, including all of CVNL’s current cohort members. I can’t say it will always be easy or perfect, but it’s a valuable learning experience, particularly about the nonprofit world. I’d also say to be prepared to expect the unexpected. There are always unforeseeable surprises, some fun, some challenging, but that’s what makes the service term so interesting.             


Story by

Melissa Cruz
Volunteer Services AmeriCorps Member


Katelyn Willoughby-Bagley
Leadership Programs Manager