Kim Marker ’08: Impacting a community

Kim and her Americorps group/community on a hike in Winter Park, CO

Kim and her Americorps group/community on a hike in Winter Park, CO

My after-graduation story is a peculiar one; some might use a different word more along the lines of “crazy”. I graduated in 2008 with a BA in Corporate Communications and made the decision to move somewhere I’ve never lived before for one year and work full time for free. I am an Americorps volunteer. There are a few more features of this year that some raise an eyebrow to: I am living in community with 15 strangers (though we are split between two different houses), I receive $75.00 per month, I live in a house that is over 100 years old with very little heat and no air conditioning, and I am working directly with the homeless.

Now that I’ve made myself seem insane and put off the perception that I am giving up a year of my life, I will tell you confidently that it is the opposite. I am diving head first into reality and life. I make no money so that I can meet the homeless where they are. Meanwhile, I live with a group of people who support me through this challenge and the organization that supports all of us (The Urban Servant Corps) provides us with free housing, food, and insurance. This is how I survive. This year is a chance for me to learn how to live, harmonize, and compromise with all sorts of people as well as to learn how to live simply. I gave up all those “extras” in life, such as TV, and I’m doing better than ever.

The Urban Servant Corps placed me as a full time volunteer (40 hours per week) with The Gathering Place – Denver’s only daytime drop-in shelter for solely women and children who are at-risk or homeless. I am working directly with our clients facilitating art programs, computer education, data and intake collection, and I am a certified Medicaid and CHP+ application assistant. I even get to use my major by helping with advertising and public relations. The Gathering Place is not an overnight shelter; rather, it is a resource center that provides women a safe place to stay during the day, a chance to be a part of a community, computers to apply for jobs and build resumes with, crafts and other community building programs to partake in, and three warm meals everyday. There are so many other resources that we have in addition, such as pro-bono lawyers, laundry facilities, a shower room, haircuts, bus tokens, a clothing bank, a food bank, mental health counselors…. the list goes on and on.

Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park

I get to see totally different lives than I’m used to through these women. They are wonderful and I’ve grown to love and learn from so many of them. At first, strapped with a stereotypical perception, I was nervous around the clients. Now, they are no different to me than my friends. They are beautiful people who have so much to share. I’ve never had such a significant job.

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