2008 Corpsmember of the Year: Matthew Rainey
In his role as Field Education Facilitator for his Marin Conservation Corps (now Conservation Corps North Bay) crew, Matthew teaches a weekly lesson, assists teachers with classes at project sites, and helps orient new Crewmembers. Matthew also has a life lesson to share:
“I feel like I am an excellent example for people, showing what they can overcome if given a chance. Hard work and determination can take anyone to great places. As long as they make the choice to change and work towards that change, anything is possible.”
When he came to MCC’s Natural Resource Crew in May 2007, Matthew was unemployed, homeless, with a criminal record and no high school diploma. He had just had a baby and knew it was time to make some changes in his life.
“I felt that becoming a father was the start of responsibility for me,” said Matthew. “I was looking for an opportunity to show my family, as well as myself, that I was ready.”
Matthew had taken four of the five GED tests while in prison but had such low confidence that he never even checked the results. When the Corps checked his scores, they discovered he had passed all four. This gave Matthew the confidence to take and pass the last section, earning his GED. Matthew saved enough to buy a car within a few months of joining the Corps. He slept in the car for an additional three months while saving enough to finally get his own apartment in September. Even while living in his car, Matthew maintained an exceptional attendance record – gaining work skills, leadership experience, and the respect of his crew, supervisor, teachers, parole officer and family.