JoAnna Phillips grew up in a small, rural community. She was taught the importance of working hard and caring about others in the community. She was raised to respect others, no matter their race, culture, gender or ecomomic status. As Phillips grew up she realized her southern Illinois community lacked diversity and was plagued by drugs and alcohol.
Thirsty for more, she set her sights on college and anything she could get her hands on to broaden her horizons. As a single mother and college student she jumped at the opportunity to join AmeriCorps to serve others and give her new life perspectives. Phillips was placed in an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility with the main responsibility of GED tutoring for clients in recovery. Her experience with AmeriCorps was a major turning point in her life and an important step in her lifelong commitment to service.