Photo Above: Jeremy Deemer, back left, at his AmeriCorps service site hosting a youth basketball camp.
By Kay Wolfkill, AmeriCorps VISTA
Jeremy Deemer is an AmeriCorps Alum. He is also a student at Graceland University in Lamoni, an Executive Board Member with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a Project Manager/Leadership Council member for his university’s ENACTUS, a student entrepreneurial organization and a National Champion.
A senior from Lamoni, Iowa studying Business Administration and Economics, Jeremy served at the Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch program from May through August of 2016. The program provides opportunities for students to lead successful, rewarding and productive lives by providing enrichment activities and out-of-school programming.
Jeremy participated in the AmeriCorps Youth Launch summer program when it came to Lamoni when he was in 5th grade. He remembers the three summers he participated as a great time, where he met lifelong friends and was able to learn various skills like fishing and gardening. Jeremy joined the program to give back to the program that did so much for him as a kid.
During his AmeriCorps service, Jeremy coordinated after school programming and weekly themes, games and activities; assisted with community events like Tuesday Nights in the Park, Lamoni 4th of July festivities, and helped with a youth basketball camp at a local high school.
Jeremy’s favorite part about his service was the opportunity to build lasting connections with the youth in the program. Throughout the summer he had the chance to interact with youth individually and make sure they always felt appreciated and included in activities. Getting to know each child in a way that was deeper than just knowing their name or age was something that Jeremy cherished, and he would often make time to sit down with each kid individually and chat with them.
After he graduates this spring, Jeremy will be working as a District Sales Leader for Frito Lay in Minneapolis. He says that he learned important life lessons while serving as an AmeriCorps member that he will take with him to the corporate world, especially that “Everybody is different. Whether it is the way you approach someone, the way you reward youth or the way you discipline them, it all has to be individualized. Kids are just like adults and this really opened my eyes.” Jeremy believes his understanding that everyone is unique will help him in a management position.
“Jeremy’s AmeriCorps service demonstrated his servant leadership as he spent over 450 hours planning and supervising a daily summer program for middle school students at the local Youth Center. He also coached an elementary summer league softball team,” says Shirley Kessel, AmeriCorps Youth Launch program director. “Jeremy is captain of the Graceland University basketball team and leads teammates as well as the youth he works with in principles of good sportsmanship, setting the highest standards and leading by example.”
Jeremy has an impressive repertoire of athletic achievements; including Two-Time First Team All-Conference, Two-Time Honorable Mention NAIA All-American, Two-Time CoSIDA Academic First Team All-American, Member of the 2017 All-State Good Works Team and Member of the All-Tournament Team. This year, Graceland University won the NAIA D1 Men’s Basketball National Championship. For Jeremy, winning the national championship was a dream come true.
He attributes some of his time management skills and ability to balance his studies, service and athletic events to his AmeriCorps service; along with communication skills. For Jeremy, the most surprising takeaway from his AmeriCorps service was that everybody has their own story. “You may feel like you know everything about everybody; but when I got to know the kids more I learned that everybody has their own story. That was surprising but comforting to know that maybe there are similarities or ways I can help relate, comfort, or just be there for them.”
“Jeremy is one of the most dependable, dedicated, responsible and respected young men that I have ever worked with,” said Kessel. “He fulfills his job descriptions and obligations and goes above and beyond to ensure the success of all projects he pursues. He is truly a champion of character in all aspects of his life.”
Serving at the AmeriCorps Youth Launch Program was a complete life changer, Jeremy says. “It was challenging at times, but overall a rewarding opportunity. I will forever cherish the time I spent serving with AmeriCorps.”