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From Active-Duty Army Nurse to Americorps VISTA - Finding a Path Forward

My name is Bethany, and I am excited to serve as the Grant and Donor Engagement VISTA at Adoption Network Cleveland. For over 7 years, I have served as an Active-Duty Army Nurse traveling throughout the world providing medical care to service members in Germany, Washington D.C., Hawaii and Korea. While stationed in Hawaii, I was assigned to a rapidly deployable unit in Korea. When covid-19 was first emerging as a serious global health concern in Daegu, Korea, I was sent to Camp Humphreys to provide extra medical assistance. 

While I had already sent in my paperwork to get out of the military before I went to Korea, I began to seriously question how I got to where I was and what I wanted for my future. When covid infections continued to rise, the base was locked down, the gym was closed, and our only transportation became walking or biking. I was on night shift, and on my nights off, I started to journal about my next best step. As many questions related to my identity began to emerge, I realized it was time to finally take control of my path. 

While I originally joined the military to get the opportunity to know my brother, who grew up in a separate family, I knew I wanted to choose a career that would allow me the opportunity to give back to the adoption and foster care community. I decided that I would take a year off to interview social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners and leaders within the child welfare community to hear about the path they took and learn from their journey, which led me back to Betsie Norris.

I originally learned about Adoption Network Cleveland while volunteering with Foster Action Ohio in college. Betsie told me about her personal journey starting off as a nurse and transitioning towards building a grass roots organization advocating for the adoption constellation. I left the conversation feeling inspired and began researching the organization, listening to recorded Monday Evening Speaker Series and participating in the General Discussion Meetings with Dottie and Estes. I realized that many of the questions I began to ask were normal for adoptees and felt a sense of strength surrounded by members of the adoption community.

I soon realized that this organization was a leader for advocacy, education, support, and a source of much needed healing not only locally in Cleveland but also throughout the nation. When I heard about the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA to help raise money to support services offered by the organization, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between my past and future career path. For me, serving as the Grant and Donor Engagement VISTA is so much more than “just a job,” it is a way to give back to an organization which gave me and so many others a network of support and an opportunity to find our voice.