Throughout her life, Paige Prado of Camden experienced a number of challenges that caused her to struggle to stay on a positive path. After realizing the effect the challenges were having on her family, Paige decided that she needed to make changes to her life. After completing her GED she began searching for the next step.
That next step initially proved to be difficult as she struggled to find employment and break out of a monotonous lifestyle. “I would wake up around 2 in the afternoon, go outside and repeat that cycle over and over,” she said.
Paige’s fortunes would however soon turn around, as she found opportunity in the unlikeliest of places – Facebook. One day while on the site, she came across a post about a program being implemented in the city. This program was PowerCorps Camden, an AmeriCorps project aimed at revitalizing public land in Camden City and providing youth with developmental support.
Interested in the program objectives, Paige actively sought more information, followed the application procedure, and was eventually inducted into PowerCorps Camden’s first cohort in December 2015.
Paige quickly emerged as a leader, showing her great work ethic on a daily basis. By the end of the six-month term, she completed over 1,000 hours of service, a feat that was of no surprise to her.
“I wanted to go above the requirement. The first week of PSO (pre-service orientation), I made it my goal to do more than 900 hours. So I just took the step forward and accomplished over 1,000.”
Paige’s hard work and dedication was recognized by the staff and she was subsequently invited to continue involvement with PowerCorps, this time as an Assistant Crew Leader with the second cohort.
Also joining Paige in the second cohort was her younger brother, Dennis, who felt more than ready to make the same commitment after witnessing the type of positive impact that the program had on his sister.
In describing her brother’s excitement in becoming a PowerCorps member, Paige said “He was happy to join because he wanted to do something that would help him push forward…something that would look good on his resume.”
Paige spoke about her own growth and the skills that she obtained as a result of her service with PowerCorps Camden. “I learned a lot about professionalism – how to dress, how to speak, interviewing skills. I used to be scared talking in front of people, but they taught me to overcome that. Now I’m more open.”
One of the encompassing goals of PowerCorps Camden is to improve the community through environmental services, and the members are therefore taught a wide range of green infrastructure skills. Paige gained skills in areas such as stormwater management, property maintenance, debris removal, and planting, among other green initiatives.
Upon the completion of her second term, Paige stayed on with PowerCorps Camden, this time as an Associate Crew Leaders where she worked to engage and retain members and oversee the implementation of environmental projects.
“I learned that I really care about my city…I like giving back to my own community.”
In February 2017, after completing her Associate Crew Leader term, Paige was hired as a Utility Laborer with American Water. Her determination and persistence had paid off.
In June 2017, Paige was awarded the Environmental Hero Award at the annual Camden Environmental Summit and shared her expertise as part of the youth keynote panel.
Having made her family and peers proud, Paige looks forward to continuing to shine as a role model.