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Making a second career of service

Cyndy Cservenyak finds meaning at the 2012 Build-a-Thon event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
By Julia Sellers

Everyone has a story. It may not always be terribly compelling, but no doubt, life creates interesting narratives.

While many AmeriCorps members are 20-somethings in the transition from school to work, there is a special set of members that are revising what retirement and new career missions look like.

After knocking on doors meeting community members in the Park West neighborhood of Milwaukee, Cyndy Cservenyak hauled 5-gallon buckets of Gatorade and water to AmeriCorps members, welcomed prospective homeowners to an open house and aided in serving lunch to more than 200 volunteers in the past two days.

Cyndy is one of 30 Habitat AmeriCorps members this year classified as part of the Baby Boomer generation, born from 1946 to 1964. Although a few generations removed from fellow AmeriCorps co-workers at the Blue Spruce, Colorado, affiliate, Cyndy said she never doubted that she wanted to work with people who are happy and passionate about giving back and serving their community.

After a career with IBM, Cyndy said she couldn’t imagine a retirement spent on a golf course or in a recreational vehicle.

“I can’t believe the life I’m leading right now,” said Cyndy on Tuesday afternoon.

One of the things I loved about Cyndy’s story is that as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, she’s not considered as “direct service.” She’s not climbing roofs, but as a resource development employee, she’s most definitely setting foundations for her affiliate to succeed through networking and community outreach.

Although cheesy—we’re in the state for it, so go with it—she’s setting up so many other families, and even the co-workers she mentors through her life-long work experience, for the opportunity to make their own stories profound and meaningful.

Beyond Cyndy, there are many more stories of folks looking to make an impact with their second career, or just looking for a second career and had the opportunity to make an impact. Each one I’ve had the privilege to meet tears up when mentioning how moved they are by this past year of service and what it has meant to their lives.

I so admire this Woodstock generation and people like Cyndy that continue to make a definite mark on our country, and I honestly expect nothing less.

Julia Sellers is a writer/editor based in Americus, Georgia.