After serving ten months in the AmeriCorps*NCCC program, I don’t find it unusual that my perception of AmeriCorps as a whole revolved around the notion of direct service. We were always in the middle of all the action, whether we were responding to a disaster, building homes with Habitat for Humanity or trail building in a State Park. We proudly displayed the “A” on our uniform shirt, and were clearly ready to be put to work with our carpenter pants and steel toe boots. As an NCCC member, there wasn’t a day in my service year where I wasn’t out working directly with the community I was serving, or providing some form of hands on service.
During my NCCC year I had a strong team that was led by a strong team leader, Allison. Not all teams were blessed with a fearless, well respected leader and I don’t think that it was a coincidence that my team, Fire 2, was one of the closest in the Unit.
Upon my acceptance into the AmeriCorps NCCC program I was stationed in Denver, CO. While serving in NCCC, I served with FEMA’s Community Relations team assisting with the disaster recovery effort in Galveston, Texas following Hurricane Ike; Rebuilding Together New Orleans, helping to restore New Orleans’ homes and neighborhoods; “Learning Landscapes,” teaching children and their families about nature and the importance of community gardens; and a Texas State Park, where my team and I spear-headed a trail building initiative. When I was considering what I wanted to do after my term of service ended, I knew I wanted to still serve in AmeriCorps but in a different capacity.
I found the Regional Coordinator (RC) position with Volunteer Maryland and instantly knew it was something I wanted to pursue. Being an RC has allowed me to take on a leadership role as an AmeriCorps member and help support other members through their service year and help make it a rewarding and fulfilling one. I have also enjoyed serving in a non-direct way as I have learned so much already. Before coming to VM, I didn’t even know what an “in-kind donation” was. I had never drafted a work plan and I had no knowledge of how to develop a volunteer program. I knew the RC position would be a challenge for me but it simply goes to show that one should never shy away from a challenge, rather embrace it, because if you never challenge yourself, you’ll never view your true potential.