In the beginning, serving a year in AmeriCorps NCCC was a whirlwind of “new” … new city, new people, new places, new challenges. And as I settled into my new routine, I discovered how the unknown of this new adventure quickly channeled my ability to gain new skills, make new friends, create new solutions to challenges, and develop an appreciation for my new community. I wasn’t sure what I was doing except that I took a pledge to “Get things done” and what this meant was not fully realized until one day sitting with my team in Bozeman, MT, working alongside a family whose home was being built through a collaboration between AmeriCorps NCCC and Habitat for Humanity. We built the house from the frame to putting the last-minute touches on the paint in the bedrooms. My team, Sun 8, were only there for 8 weeks but the impact of our work would last a lifetime, and for that one family, it meant turning a house into a home.
The last few months of my service were most impactful and led me down my career path. I was helping tutor 2nd graders in a classroom in Aurora, IL, when I heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. What I know now but didn’t know then was this was a turning point for my career in public service. As a trained disaster volunteer, I traveled first to Washington, DC, and then to New York City where I spent the remainder of my term of service helping families who lost loved ones and individuals who lost their homes and jobs because of the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001. Since my days in AmeriCorps NCCC, I have worked to serve the people of Iowa through service with Volunteer Iowa, the American Red Cross, and the Rebuild Iowa Office. I currently am serving as a Program Officer with Volunteer Iowa helping leverage AmeriCorps VISTA to fight poverty in Iowa, and if and when disaster strikes, I help to support communities to be better prepared to support volunteers in times of disaster.
AmeriCorps NCCC provided me the opportunity to network and meet people that would eventually become my employers. It’s not surprising how one year of service has turned into a lifetime of friendships in both personally and professionally.