Feeling the “Community” in Community Service: My Experiences with AmeriCorps
In 2019, I served with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) as a Team Leader. I led a team of eight young adults as we traveled around in a 15 passenger van, serving in six states on many different projects related to environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. We stayed in church basements, volunteer housing, cabins, dorms and tents.
Camp O' the Hills. Brooklyn, MI April 2019
In writing this post, I struggled to sum up a year of service in only 500 words: Do I talk about the rhinoceros? All of the organizations we served with? The countless trips to urgent care? Teaching Girl Scouts to make maple syrup? Camping on the Mississippi River? The crow named Klutz that became our friend? What about the physical training we had to do three times a week? The amount of times I laughed until I cried? The times I cried until I laughed?
Lake Willoughby, Vermont June 2019 | Vermont. June 2019 | Des Moines, Iowa. October 2019
While reflecting upon the year and my favorite stories, I’ve realized a central theme was the importance of people. I experienced community through AmeriCorps service in a way I never had before. I relied on my team, and they relied on me. We cooked, lived, served, and traveled communally. As an introvert, being surrounded by people at all times was sometimes difficult, but it quickly became my favorite aspect of the year: the team dinners after a long day of working with youth, a game of frisbee after stacking firewood all day, or getting one another to laugh while pulling invasives in a rainstorm. Strangers quickly became my support system, and the organizations, people, and communities we served with opened up their lives, homes and hearts.
Montpelier, Vermont June 2019 | Des Moines, Iowa. October 2019 | Lake Willoughby, Vermont June 2019
I fell in love with the community aspect of community service, so I decided to serve a second year. In searching for another AmeriCorps opportunity, I came across the VISTA Leader position with the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. I’d never been to Nevada before, but the mission statement, “The Parks Foundation protects and enhances our communities' livability through public engagement, education, and the sustainability of our parks, open spaces, and trails” resonated with me. Community! Engagement! Sustainability! A perfect match.
In the short time in my role as the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, I’ve been able to participate in all of the Parks Foundation’s programming to learn more about what we do: I’ve walked with participants in our Dementia Friendly Nature Walks, I’ve spent some time in a classroom teaching students about insects with the Student Stewards Program, and I’ve hiked as part of the Truckee Meadows Trails Challenge. The Parks Foundation’s staff, AmeriCorps Members, volunteers, and citizens of the Truckee Meadows have made me feel so welcome, and I can’t wait to continue to see my sense of community and belonging grow while serving here in Reno.
Reno, Nevada February 2020
March 8-14 is AmeriCorps Week!
To learn more about the different AmeriCorps Programs, visit https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps
To find opportunities to serve with the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation or our partners, visit https://www.tmparksfoundation.org/employment-opportunities
Winona, Minnesota. August 2019
If you have any questions about my experiences, are interested in an AmeriCorps position, or have felt that overwhelmingly wonderful sense of community and would like to share your stories, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.