Maria Torres graduated from Nazareth College in 2017 with a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications and a B.A. in Economics. This year she is serving as Rochester Youth Year Fellow/AmeriCorps VISTA at CASH (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope). At CASH, Maria has been developing and implementing new volunteer recruitment strategies to assist with the program and further strengthen community contacts through digital and print marketing and promotions.
What attracted you to Rochester Youth Year?
I wanted to take a year off from working and do meaningful volunteer work in a community that I have been living in for 4 years. It seemed like the right way to give back to the Rochester community while at the same time gaining valuable skills and knowledge that will follow me for the rest of my life.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a genuine, caring person who is concerned about the status of the world today. I like to think of myself as an optimist and unlike people who believe that one person can’t make a change, I believe that all my actions have consequences and that all movements start with one person and if fueled by enough passion and determination, you can make a change.
Why do you find meaning in service?
Because we all live on this planet earth. It makes no sense to me to waste time by being selfish and destroy each other when we are all here sharing this space we live in. I like to help out in any way I can.
How does RYY fit into your professional goals?
A year of service is exactly what I needed as I transition from college to the professional world. It feels like less pressure because I am not committed to an “adult” job and since this is a learning experience as well, I get to ask questions and do what I can to develop professionally.
What’s one fact that some people don’t know about you?
I have a single palmar crease on my right hand (sometimes called a Simian Line or Simian Crease). It’s where the head and the heart line are merged into a single line. People who study palmistry say this usually means it’s hard to separate logic and feelings.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I would be a cheetah cub.
What is one word that describes your community?
What is one of your happiest memories?
I went to Disney World for my 20th birthday and all my dreams came true!
We really try to emphasize self-care for all of the VISTAs to make it through the year and to prevent burnout. What are your top 10 self-care strategies?
- SLEEP! – A regular sleep schedule. 6-8 hours. Your body WILL thank you. No time for a full sleep? Check out the next tip.
- Use your down time to actually rest – A lot of people are quick to say, “Down time? What down time? I’m always busy!” but guaranteed you can squeeze time somewhere. Even if it’s just 20 minutes (or 26 aka the NASA nap) of closing your eyes and disconnecting (aka no screens), you’ll feel refreshed after.
- HYDRATE! – I couldn’t afford to leave this one out… Erin would have been disappointed, but seriously! You may not realize it but lack of water may be the reason why you’re so grumpy… Make water your #1 drink and then enjoy other drinks on the side.
- Dedicate one day a week to yourself and your needs – If you’re like me and enjoy being social but also need time for yourself, separate a day where you focus on you. Even if it’s just part of the day. I love helping people and can get caught up with trying to help everyone so I usually pick Sundays to help me, myself, and I. On Sundays I sleep in late, watch tv, read, play video games, have my own mini spa day… whatever I want to do! This helps me feel refreshed and ready to take on another week.
- Share both ups and downs with your cohort (or the people you use as your support system… have a support system) – saying things out loud can be validating or even liberating when you need it to be and having those who love you around to listen and understand is a wonderful feeling.
- Work on your hobby… or take on a new hobby! – This year, I tackled the art of cross-stitching and completely fell in love! It’s relaxing and you feel accomplished when a project gets finished.
- Put less pressure on yourself to be perfect – As a perfectionist, I had to learn that it’s okay to just enjoy things and not be perfect at them. It can wear you down and make a hobby less fun. Bad at singing but you love it? Sing anyways! Dancing? Same thing! Arts and crafts? Go for it. It’s okay to be entertained by things that bring a smile to your face.
- Process your emotions – With a busy schedule, it’s hard for us to sometimes pause and think things through. If you’re feeling happy or frustrated, take the time to think about your feelings and let them out; whether you cry or write them down, releasing those emotions can help you feel better afterwards. Crying isn’t a bad thing; sometimes it is the best way to get some weight off your shoulders.
- Move your body – You can take walks in the park, go for a hike, or even join a class! I joined the YMCA because I wanted to be more active. The problem with me is that I hate exercising by myself and can find it intimidating but at the Y, they offer group exercise classes and I love them! I am with a group of friendly people who are working towards a fitness goal like me and the instructors are super nice and afterwards, I feel great.
- EAT !!! – just like having a regular sleep schedule is important, having a regular eating schedule is as well. I was never a big breakfast person and Im still not, but now, I have a cup of tea or coffee in the morning with a little snack and some yogurt, I snack between meals and just overall listen to my body when it tells me its hungry. It prevents from over eating during your main meals and you will feel less hungry throughout the day!