A question I’ve been asked and have lacked a real answer to is: Why a year of service? For many, it is an abstract idea to take a path into solidarity with a community. For me, it’s a road less traveled but paved in a way that even if uncertainty lies beyond the bend, a sense of trust and belonging burns hotter than the fear of uncertainty.
The start of my path began as I was finishing my university studies. This would be the first time in my entire existence where the stresses of schoolwork did weigh down my mind, body, or soul. It was hard to imagine a world outside my university bubble!
As time passed, a yearning for something more than work to sustain my lifestyle was calling me. A yearning to practice being in the present moment and living a mindful life. Looking back, it’s more like AMA found me. I had received an email about an organization that was centered around building trust in the community. Traveling down the path towards AMA was my first step in the right direction.
The path I chose to walk was not lonely, but sometimes it was narrow. After working all summer at a camp for people with intellectual disabilities, I felt ready to start my year with AMA with the gifts and skills I’d gained there. At camp, I built up my patience and learned how to relate to a population of people that others tend to avoid. The qualities I had built upon and the newer outlook I had for life allowed me to build trust within myself, helping me transition from one community to another.
Life as an AMA began with the food pantry on Wednesday mornings. I am not much of an early riser but am now delighted to get up on those days to meet with community members in Worcester. The food pantry, through St. Peter’s, is a place in which time exists on a different plane. Everyone there is in the present moment helping to fill carts and cars with groceries. Looks of care and gratitude are all over the faces of the volunteers and the community members. It’s not a time to worry about what’s missing or what’s wrong, but a time to see what is right. The little moments of stopping and wishing one another a good day, staying present in the moment to enjoy the passing smiles, and being able to connect on a personal level with some of the weekly members. All of this has shown me a new side of the beautiful city of Worcester and the city's colors continue to show through the different services I am a part of.
Being in Mentoring (our afterschool program for neighborhood children) has been a new experience for me because in the past I would be the college student sitting in the chair waiting for my mentee to arrive. Now, I get to experience the other side of creating a program that both the mentors and mentees are excited to show up to. Having a place that is filled with trust, love, patience, and acceptance is a place that allows for new growth. In the few weeks of Mentoring, I have seen the change of strangers becoming friends and the growth of relationships blossoming.
The narrower parts of the path were a time for me to look ahead at the steps furthering my adventure. Feelings of the uncertainty of not doing the right thing or being left behind burned at the back of my mind. Yet the fire to do better for the world ignites me to see that although I’m just one person, all things start with one. Part of the journey is to widen the path. Although the path is narrow, people who have done this journey before reached out to help me cross the trenches of doubt and see the light ahead. Being an AMA has is showing me that change is a good thing. To welcome it is the first step in accepting growth into my life. I am right where I am supposed to be.
Victoria (Tori) Borruso, AMA
Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
Tori Borruso graduated in May 2021 from Assumption University in Worcester, MA. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in philosophy. Tori grew up in Wallingford, CT and is currently serving in our Worcester AMA volunteer site.