When you think about what you can accomplish in two years what comes to mind? A college degree, traveling, starting your own business, honing your craft? Then there’s the one not many people mention, helping someone.
The past two years and twenty-four days (754 days) of my life I’ve been living in one community serving a greater purpose, helping others. I’ve touched on it in my previous blog post but in 2016 a 1,000-year flood devastated my hometown. After being boots on the ground for two months I was given the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps as a VISTA for one year. Little did I know September 11, 2016 would be a day that would change my life forever.
Growing up, my perception of my hometown was what I imagine any other childs would be if they’d grown up in a small town: quiet, boring and everyone knew everyone. When I turned 18 I started to feel the typical pull to “get out this place and move to the city.” Moving to a city with a population of 16,933 from a town with a population of 1,501 my graduating year… I felt like I’d moved to New York City. I was so excited to start my new journey but it wasn’t all I had thought it would be and over time I missed the quietness of my hometown.
Moving back to my hometown after graduation was a slight adjustment and I quickly began to see things in a different light. I started to settle back into going to the grocery store and it being a 30-minute trip rather than a quick 10-minute pop in because I’d run into someone and catch up. I think the hardest thing for me was learning to cope with the fact that the nearest Starbucks was 45 minutes away…. still not over it.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, we may not see it at the time but it’s there. At the time of the flood I was looking for “something more.” I had completed my Master’s in Psychology but wasn’t working in my field and I wasn’t happy. When the flood happened, it was like the world stopped for my community while the rest of the world kept on going and watching.
I signed on as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member September 11, 2016 and it has changed my life. I have gained a second family in my supervisors and collogues. I have met 4,772 individual volunteers and created lasting relationships with most of them that spans across the United States. I have experienced every stage of recovery with homeowners, the good and the bad. I have cried with them, laughed with them and celebrated with them when their repair or construction process was completed and they moved in. Most of all, I have gained a new appreciation for a hometown I once took for granted.
September 11, 2018 I officially signed on for my third year of service and I can’t wait to see what it will bring.