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Integrating Service Experiences and Career Choices

Nicole TrimbleNicole Trimble is being honored as a Champion of Change for her time and effort in AmeriCorps.

“You only have one precious life filled with a lot of options. The only thing you really need to do is leave this world a better place than you found it.”  

I heard this often from my dad as a young, energetic girl growing up in suburban Cleveland, trying to find my place in the world. I should have known that my path to a fulfilling life and career would be through heeding his advice and finding my way through service. 

My own story started as a child rooted in a family and faith community that valued service. I was raised with a belief in the reciprocal nature of service and that we all need to serve and be served in order for a society to function. In fact, the legacy of service in my family through the military and the Civilian Conservation Corps helped construct my belief that we all have a part to play in building and strengthening this great nation. I chose national service and to join AmeriCorps for many reasons but primarily because I love my country. What I did not know at the time, was how much I would be forever changed.

Service to my country through AmeriCorps was active participatory citizenship that would never allow me to look at my community and country from the sidelines again. My first year of service was as a Jesuit Volunteer providing legal services in Yakima, Washington. I was so inspired by the new AmeriCorps program that I enrolled for a second year of service as an AmeriCorps Leader launching ASPIRA AmeriCorps to provide opportunities to Latino youth. AmeriCorps inspired me to integrate my service experiences into my career choices, and also seeded my deep belief that providing all Americans opportunities to serve is a very important element building essential human connections and maintaining a strong democracy.

Although my AmeriCorps experience was about serving others, it provided me far greater gifts than I gave. I experienced that true self-interest is mutual interest. I understood for the first time how deeply we are all connected. We give and we receive. We serve and we are served. We are kind and kindness returns to us. This can be very difficult to live and remember in our current culture where we have to walk into the headwinds of cynicism at every turn. But I have committed to taking my AmeriCorps lessons with me into each professional experience and it has paid off. I have been blessed with more fulfilling career than I could have ever imagined and I owe much of it to national service. 

I am currently responsible for Coinstar, Inc.’s Corporate Responsibility program. Last year after the tornados in Joplin, Missouri, I asked a crew of employees volunteering with the clean-up which organization in Joplin was doing the most impactful work so we could partner. The manager leading the initiative said “There is an amazing group here called AmeriCorps. Have you heard of AmeriCorps?” 

Yes. I HAVE heard of AmeriCorps. I am AmeriCorps. And I am proud.

Nicole Trimble is the Director of Corporate Responsibility at Coinstar, Inc.