Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The AmeriCorps Member: A True Life Story Series

I really like the way that Amitai “Tai” S. Zuckerman explains the AmeriCorps NPRC program as, “basically a collaborative effort between AmeriCorps and the American Red Cross. We work on emergency preparedness, community resilience, and disaster relief.” He’s exactly right. The duties of Amitai “Tai” S. Zuckerman, Veronica Lases, and myself encompass each of these aspects. However, my journey to get to this point is a little different than Tai’s, and Veronica’s, too.

Like Tai mentioned, I also didn’t have any social ties to this region, I didn't know where I would live, and I didn't know how I was going support myself financially during this 11 month commitment. But, I didn't apply for the program with skepticism. I applied with a sense of adventure and a desire to do something for the greater good of others. I know, I could’ve done plenty of great things as an AmeriCorps member closer to home in Indiana, but I wanted to try something new, and I wanted to meet new people.  As for the financial aspect of it all, I’m a recent college graduate; let’s just say I’m used to being broke.

As a Communication major in college, I’ve always known that interacting with people is my strong suit. Naturally, I love the community outreach aspect of my AmeriCorps position. I get to go out in the community and interact with tons of great people who I never would have met if it hadn't been for this opportunity. I get to educate them on all aspects of disaster preparedness, which is something that I've grown to be quite passionate about in these past few months. I’m constantly meeting new people, people who do amazing things for our communities throughout the Central Valley, and people who donate their time and energy to help others.

I love the flexibility that comes with being an AmeriCorps NPRC member. Just yesterday I was sitting in my office, making phone calls to local businesses to set up Be Red Cross Ready presentations, when I got a call from my Disaster Action Team duty officer. There had been a fire here in Bakersfield and I was asked to respond. One second I was sitting at my desk, and 15 minutes later I was at the scene of a horrendous fire that destroyed a family’s home. My heart just hurts when I think about what they must be going through, and I feel so lucky that I get to work with an organization that reaches out to help these people in need. 

I couldn't be happier to be where I am today, even if I am so far from home. The experiences I have already had, and the friendships I have already made just go to show how truly rewarding this experience has been, and will be. 

Samantha Minks
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross - Kern County
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services

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