AmeriCorps Member Inspired by Local Community

"AmeriCorps Member Inspired by Local Community," by Deb Allard, The Herald News
FALL RIVER – Tim Gustave sorted through the bins of winter coat donations piled high and taking over the conference room at United Neighbors’ Bedford Street office.
 
Gustave, a city native, is about six weeks into his 10-month AmeriCorps service stint at the human service agency.
 
“It’s great,” Gustave said. “I think I’m making a small difference.”
 
That’s the idea for AmeriCorps volunteers who strive to make big and small positive changes, often in their own communities, as well as in places where there has been a natural disaster. They also build houses for the poor, protect the environment, and promote healthy living.
 
There are currently some 175 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members serving in Fall River today at some 35 sites, according to spokeswoman Samantha Jo Warfield.
 
AmeriCorps is a nationwide service program where volunteers serve for non-profits, schools, churches, and other community agencies.
 
For Gustav, 24, the service is offering him experience, and also a respite between earning a bachelor’s and graduate degree.
 
“I’ve romanticized the idea that I can do anything, but I’ll still undecided,” Gustave said.
 
He said the job market is “difficult” and as a millennial, he feels he is sometimes categorized and given a bad rap.
 
Gustave, born in Fall River, was raised in Seekonk in a multi-lingual home and can speak French and some Portuguese.
 
His dad, a teacher, was born in Martinique and lived for many years in Paris. A nomad and “Army brat,” he traveled the world with his family in the French Army. His mom, a nurse, was born in Fall River to Azorean immigrants.
 
He graduated from UMass Amherst with a major in journalism, and has written an anti-bullying book for children, “Quentin the Quokka,” that has been published in Australia.
 
Gustave said it wasn’t always easy coming from a bi-racial family and he took his share of bullying at school.
 
“Still to this day it affects me a little bit,” Gustave said.
 
For that reason, he also enjoys the other part of his job: teaching a group of 12 kids in a poetry expression program at Talbot Middle School.
 
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