Richard Park, NYC Civic Corps member
It’s been years, but I still remember their names as if it were yesterday: Thomas, Joseph and James. They were triplets, amongst my first group of more than thirty eight-year old youngsters I’d be supervising many summers ago at a local day camp. Back then, working at the camp was the perfect opportunity to earn some extra cash and have some fun at the same time. Little did I know how much significance that experience, almost ten years later, would have on my life today.
What was first thought of as a one-time job became a routine every summer. I would attend college throughout the year, and then work the summers as a camp counselor. I didn’t realize that work could be so fun, rewarding and fulfilling. Year after year, I would look forward to seeing the smiles on familiar faces from kids that returned for the summer. At the same time, I was ready to experience even more good times with a fresh, new group of kids who were just as eager and enthusiastic to start camp on a fun and productive note. By the end, one summer had turned into four. I found myself working at the camp throughout my entire college career.
Upon graduating from college, I went on to pursue a Masters degree and shortly thereafter landed an analyst position in the world of investment management, where I worked for almost four years. As grateful as I was for the wonderful experience that comes along with working in corporate finance, I often found myself reflecting back to those summer days. How fulfilling it was to motivate, inspire and teach! How gratifying it was to be admired and looked up to as a role model! How rewarding it was to contribute to the community where I was born and raised! I missed those summer days, and I yearned to be back in a situation where I felt I could make a bigger difference.
As with my first job as a camp counselor, I was fortunate enough to come across the opportunity to work as a VISTA for the NYC Civic Corps. I quickly jumped at the chance, as having the privilege to work with the communities in New York City was an honor I didn’t want to pass up. Now, as part of my new assignment, I am working with Learning Leaders, a non-profit organization that aims to help the school children of New York City excel by recruiting and training volunteers to tutor and provide other school-bases support. Through this role, I am back in a situation that was most rewarding and fulfilling to me. Perhaps most importantly, I am thrilled to be part of a group and organization where we all share the same goals and are striving to make a difference in our communities. I’ve always felt that everything happens for a reason, and through my chance opportunities with my first job at camp and now through the NYC Civic Corps, I am beginning to realize that many of the best things in life find you when you are not looking.