I opened my last box of VISTA cereal this morning.

Today is August 27th, the last day of a year of PRC AmeriCorps VISTA service, and a time for reflection and symbolism. I bought that box of cereal more than a year ago as I stockpiled items in preparation to having my income decrease by 2/3rds. (I also stocked up on toilet paper, but I won’t be giving updates of when I use the last of that!) I saved the last box of cereal to eat on my last day of service. It’s crazy to think a year has passed already, but it has, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Tomorrow I begin my new job—as an assistant cook at the local school. During my service year I worked with them to develop a hybrid grab-and-go breakfast program for their middle and high schoolers and helped write a No Kid Hungry grant application that resulted in over $2000 of funds for their school. Now I’ll be the one behind the line, serving kids, and helping to implement new and innovative ideas with the head cook.

I’m also headed back to school in pursuit of a degree in social work. My year of service provided me with needed skills, strengthened my determination to help people, and, oh yes, gave me the Segal Education Award that I’m using to jumpstart my feeble scholastic finances. From here on out, I’ll need to scrimp and save enough to cover my tuition, but hey, VISTA service prepared me for that, too! I’m used to living on nothing, so it really won’t be much of a change for me.

And in just over 2 weeks I’ll be turning 40. THAT isn’t something that VISTA service usually covers, since your typical VISTA is fresh out of college. I’d like to say I’m approaching this milestone with a mellow, gracious acceptance of aging, but I’m not sure that’s strictly accurate. Truthfully, it blows my mind that I’m going to be 40, an age that was always synonymous with the ancients when I was young, innocent, and wrinkle-free. They say age is just a number, but 40 is a pretty big number! Yeah, still working on this one.

So what does my future hold? I’m not sure exactly, but I DO know that wherever life takes me, I want to spend it in helping others and living a life full of joy. Yes, the view from here is pretty good.

Tina Kahrs
Montana No Kid Hungry-PRC AmeriCorps VISTA
Plentywood, MT