From classrooms to bathroom floors: Volunteer spreads community service work nationwide

Sophia Jamil

Staff Writer

Andrew Poitras lived in a bathroom and on a shed for two months while doing community service in Arizona.

Poitras, a liberal arts major, joined AmeriCorps at 17. “I was homeschooled all my life, and after graduating high school, I had no idea which direction to go in with my life — I hadn’t quite found myself yet,” said Poitras.

MB1_0213Mikey Bryant | The Hudsonian

Intrigued by the work done by AmeriCorps, Poitras felt urged to become a part of the organization. “I ended up doing a little more research, and I knew that it was my calling,” he said.

Andy left the comfort of his home in Albany and flew to Colorado where he and his fellow volunteers were put into a team and sent to different states. Poitras and his group of volunteers were sent for their first trip to Arizona to clean up the state’s national park.

Months into his trip, Poitras soon found himself struggling with AmeriCorps. “[What] I didn’t know was how tough it would actually be,” he said.

With limited funding for the program, Poitras and his volunteers were struggling for basic items like places to sleep. “We had to work with anything we had available to us, which was the reason why I was living in a bathroom on a shed in Arizona for two months,” said Poitras.

After the hardship in Arizona, Poitras spent the rest of the year traveling across the United States. He traveled to states like Washington, Kansas and Texas doing service.

“I worked an insane variety of jobs from cleaning up state parks in different states, to helping save endangered species of plants in Washington,” he said. Poitras was even given the opportunity to teach ESL to children in Texas. Poitras also found himself leaving the program with his certificate in firefighting.

Coming up on a year of service, Poitras took a two month break to come back to his hometown in Albany. “I came back to Albany, but my heart was still with all the people I had helped,” he said. Being captivated by his work with AmeriCorps, Poitras decided to go back for another ten months.
After completing his second round of ten months with AmeriCorps, Poitras decided to return to Albany and attend Hudson Valley to get a degree towards his passion for helping others. Inspired by his time at AmeriCorps, Poitras is determined to one day become the CEO of his own organization that’s main purpose would be to help those in need.

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