How Service Can Lead to Smooches

Feb 7, 2014

Today’s post is by Margaret Garvey, an AmeriCorps Alums member and founder of Arizona Serve. Check out how she found love through AmeriCorps, and if you have your own service love story, enter Points of Light's Love & Service Valentine’s Day Contest for a chance to win Valentine's Day dinner on us.

Margaret and Shona Garvey wed in October.

I am not really a morning person. So, in July of 2006 when I boarded the airport shuttle in Prescott, Ariz., at 5:30 a.m. to start the two-hour ride to the airport on the way to an AmeriCorps orientation, I was not really in the mood to chat.

Being a city girl, newly transplanted to rural Arizona, public transportation felt like a familiar comfort. My plan was to pop in my headphones, curl up with my bag and go back to sleep. This was the first of many plans I would make during my year of service that would not work out, and all the better for it.

Sitting in the very first seat, in the front of the bus, was a big-haired, smiling Tennessee gal who was so eager to meet me, she practically leaped at me. She was like a blast of caffeinated air fired at you from a leaf blower. "How could anyone be this friendly at 5:30 a.m.?" I pondered in my Bostonian brain.

Our travel experience together was… interesting. She had never been to a Starbucks, because she didn’t drink coffee (excuse me, say that again?); refused to wait in line at the gate because, in her southern accent, “I don’t sttayund in lionnes” (then how do you eat, bank and use the restroom?); and was eager to strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone around.

I made all sorts of plans for my term of service: I would only be in Arizona for one year; I would save money; reduce my stress levels; learn to decipher and then accomplish everything on my AmeriCorps Volunteer Assignment Description. I did none of these things. 

I did some other things, though. I made lifelong friends; struggled with and eventually accomplished some important work in service; laughed a bunch, figured out how to make a budget and then actually stick to it; developed my leadership skills; learned about culture (mainly about my own culture); and I fell in love with that very happy southern woman.

Seven years later, we are both still living in Prescott. I am directing a statewide AmeriCorps VISTA program though Prescott College ( and Shona is doing foster care and adoption home studies with Arizona’s Children Association. In October, we got married back in Massachusetts. Our story is just one of many stories of folks who fell in love while in service.

I think, what it really comes down to, is that romantic love is just one form of the bigger love that we all share for service. I have had the pleasure of watching AmeriCorps members fall in love with service and in service and it just never gets old. We do great work, we have great fun and we do it all (as cheesy as it sounds) in love.