*** Join Ten Thousand Villages Arbor Day tree planting project - click for details ***
By Jake Dowling, Ada Icon summer intern
Note: This story was originally posted in The Ada Icon. Julie Brewer is known by several persons in the Bluffton community.
It is the summer of 2010. Julie Brewer just graduated from Ohio Northern University with a degree in art education. She had friends, a good life, but she was not ready to jump right into her career, she wanted to explore.
"You know that coming right out of college the job market is going to be tedious and scary, you're not know sure what opportunities are going to be there, but this opportunity presented itself and I couldn't say no," she said.
The opportunity that presented itself was being a part of AmeriCorps, a national organization that fights hunger and poverty here in the U.S.
"It was a unique opportunity to be able to explore other avenues that weren't specifically art education," Brewer said. "I wasn't sure if I was ready to start a career for the next 30 years or so, so this is a short-term direction. Basically it was the people that got me involved."
Brewer, who grew up in Darke County, Ohio, roughly an hour southwest from Ada, found a nice home in Ada and applied at one of AmeriCorps' branch organizations, Restore.
"After I graduated from ONU in 2010, my friend and I started going to Restore because they were having free meals," she said. "Then I got to know the director and the volunteers and I ended up making some good friends."
Seeing how she enjoyed her time there and since they had a position open, Brewer applied for the job in July of 2010 as an AmeriCorps Vista service worker.
"I applied, not knowing what I was getting myself into," she said. "It was one of those, if I turn this down, I'll always kind of wonder, situations."
Brewer helps recruit people to go out and help others in the community or help those in need when a disaster strikes.
However, Restore has been a wonderful and humbling experience for
Brewer because of the people she has meant.
"While working at Restore, I would see professors and clergy come in and have meals, but I also saw people who were struggling to pay their bills," she said. "Just having everybody here really fascinated me."
Brewer says working at Restore has helped her gain not only experience and knowledge, but also skills to effectively communicate, a skill she will need heading into her next job.
"Working at Restore has helped me improve my communication skills with people from other backgrounds and I think that experience helped me get the teaching job," she said.
"Put my name in the hat, got an interview and while I was done there, signed a lease, and got a phone call asking me if I wanted the job."
Brewer's fianc'e is going back to school at Ohio University in Athens, so with relocation comes job searching. With a little help from some of her former AmeriCorps colleagues from the past, they helped her get the teaching job she had always been looking for.
"Being a teacher doesn't always give you that automatic respect, you have to earn that respect," she said.
Brewer plans on teaching art in Marietta, Ohio, next year, and with her time almost up at Restore later this month, her position will be open. That is where her friend, Amanda Quintrell will take over.
"I have been telling her in passing that my job will be available soon and one day she was like, 'okay, let's do it."' Brewer said.
With two years of valuable experience at Restore, and her friend taking over her soon-to-be former position, it was time to make a change toward her career.
"I wasn't ready to get into the art classroom, I had too many ideas, I needed time and I was able to really put my money where my mouth was and live and experience some things and it all seems to be working out."