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Profile of an Award Winner: Jenna Kreitzer

by Samantha Jo Warfield

Last week, five AmeriCorps alumni received the Congressional Gold Medal Award in Washington, DC. In our post last week, we talked a little bit about their work with the program, but we thought it would be fun to get to know them a bit better.

Amidst all the celebration, we stole them away for some quick interviews and will be sharing their thoughts on service, inspiration, and volunteering with you this week.

Today's alum, Jenna Kreitzer.

Since graduating from college, Jenna Kreitzer has made service a lifestyle. She served two terms with AmeriCorps NCCC beginning in January 2008. With her NCCC team, she worked with organizations like HandsOn New Orleans and Camp Highroad in Virginia.

Disaster relief also became part of her repertoire when she was deployed to work with FEMA in Wisconsin and West Virginia. After her time with AmeriCorps NCCC, Kreitzer joined the Peace Corps where she served 750 hours in The Gambia, West Africa.

What inspired you to become an AmeriCorps member?

Throughout college I frequently said that if I could serve for the rest of my life, I would. AmeriCorps NCCC provided me the opportunity to do full-time service.

Do you remember your first experience volunteering or serving? What was that like?

It's hard to pinpoint my first experience volunteering because service has been a way of life for me. I remember serving a meal at St. Ben's with my Grandma, volunteering at church bingo, helping my neighbors with yard work and 4H growing up. Eventually that led to Catholic Youth Outreach Trips, AmeriCorps NCCC and Peace Corps in The Gambia. I love the people that I meet and through service I have made friends all over the world.

What would you tell individuals thinking about applying for AmeriCorps?

People come to AmeriCorps for a variety of different reasons. I would encourage them to open themselves up to the people they are working with and the people they are serving. Ultimately the rewards and benefits that they will receive will be more than they ever could imagine.

What would you say to encourage Americans to make service a part of their everyday lives?

Start small. Get to know your community. Once you start looking, you'll discover it's easy to find your niche.

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