January 20, 2020
She’s a big fan of memoirs, loves working with kids and adults, and cares a whole lot about her community. We recently caught up with Catherine Gomez, our Impact and Operations Manager, to learn more about what led her to 826 Boston, what she does outside of work, and what it’s like leading 826 Boston’s largest group of AmeriCorps service members to date!
You did two full years with AmeriCorps. What made you want to join the program?
I graduated from Hollins University with a double major in Spanish & International Relations and was unsure of what I wanted to do next. A friend recommended an AmeriCorps program where I would serve in the city of New Bedford, MA close to where I grew up and teach English to Immigrants and Refugees through the New American Integration Program. It seemed like a natural fit based on what I studied in college and my personal interests. I was hoping to gain some professional skills at a nonprofit, as well as network in a field I was interested in, but wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do. I loved my year with AmeriCorps. I was challenged, pushed out of my comfort zone, and received training and coaching through my service year that really did prepare me for future roles. I made valuable connections and friendships. I still keep in touch with members I served with 7 years ago. After doing direct service, I wanted to see what indirect service would be like and gain a different set of skills, so I signed up for a second year, this time as a VISTA member doing grant writing and fundraising with the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange in Boston. Both service years helped me discover what I wanted in a job and helped me secure the wonderful role I have today at 826 Boston!
Any specific moment from your AmeriCorps service days that has stuck with you because it was so unusual, impactful or downright hilarious?
My role with my first AmeriCorps year of service was teaching English to adults in the evening 6-8 PM. The classes took place in a school library and the children of the students would spend time together playing and reading while their parents learned English. We had students representing 7 different countries of all different language levels. One class, to celebrate a birthday, we all brought a favorite dish to our class to eat together. It was so fun to connect over food and we all shared many laughs and recipes. It was impactful to see the many levels of support, learning, and kindness among the families and students throughout the year, but especially that night.
You’re leading the first round of AmeriCorps state members at 826 Boston ever! What’s been the most rewarding moment for you so far?
It has been so rewarding to see and hear about the incredible service members are doing each day! It’s been so fun getting to visit sites and see members interacting with students, facilitating strong workshops, and being thoughtful about how to best support the volunteers and students they are working with. The culmination of that was AmeriCorps Opening Day when we gathered with the hundreds of other AmeriCorps members serving at different sites this year and then served together as a group in the afternoon.
When you’re not at 826 Boston, what do you like to do?
I love traveling, running, and reading.
What is one thing that you believe most people do not know about you?
I have three brothers that are all left-handed! I am the only right-handed sibling and the only girl.
Have you ever had a story, poem or song written with you as a character or the subject?
Each summer, I would care for a little girl named Charlotte. We have been connected for 10 years and now she is in high school. She recently wrote a descriptive essay of our adventures during the summers and how they changed as we both got older and grew closer. It was really sweet and some great writing!
If you wrote an autobiography, what would be its title?
Food for Thought. I am always thinking about my next meal or snack.
Finally, what’s your favorite thing to read?
I love reading memoirs!