As mentioned previously, I plan on entering the few remaining monthly reports Accomplishments and Challenges notes that I kept from my previous Americorps experience, both as a resource for those who may find this blog and as a way to back up what few notes and memories I still have of that year of service.
This is the earliest sheet I could find, from Nov 2000, although my term of service started in September of that year.
This month we help our first dedication [note: when a HFH home is finally finished, it is dedicated with a ceremony during which the homeowner officially receives the keys]. This was the first house that we had completed and moved a family into. It was quite an emotional experience (eve our supervisor got choked up). I was quite overtaken with the feelings I had – beyond what I had anticipated. Knowing that you are part of a group responsible for putting a family into their own home – especially when you yourself grew up poor and never had your own home – makes all the hard work more than worthwhile.
This month, we hosted our first NCCC group [a youth Americorps branch – groups travel together to do various services projects] on their first “spike.” It was a challenge not only trying to bond with an entirely new group of Americorps well enough to work effectively with them, but also to make teammate-close friendships only to have to lose them a handful of weeks later. Although we are used to volunteer groups coming in and out, the attachment is different. Although there were rough spots while getting used to each other’s modus operandi, all in all I’d have to say that for me it was a positive experience. I’m sure that both groups will come away with useful insights that will help us to do better jobs in the future.
Hosting the NCCC group was a lot of fun, as I recall. And it presented us with the unique challenge of trying to accomodate a member with a severe physical handicap (nearly wheelchair bound as the result of some variety of childhood brittle bone disease, if I recall correctly) into the rough-and-tumble environment of an active construction site. The dedication I spoke of wasn’t on the site where we were working at the time. The build site was a multi-family cul-de-sac still in the early phase of construction, and was a jumbled, dangerous mess for the strongest and most agile of us. None the less, we found ways to make it work (which was helped by the fact that she could, and did, get around on her own two feet for short periods of time). There was always something to be done that didn’t require brute strength or being tall, and when obstacles came up, we all worked together to find a way around them. That aspect of the whole experience was both enlightening and inspiring. I think that was the first time (being relatively able-bodied) that I finally internalized that, should I become disabled, I really would still be okay.
Plus, the N-Trips, as we called them, were a hoot. All were very young (NCCC is for young adults ages 18-24) and while many of our team were young as well, most were college age and several of us were comparatively old farts in our 30s. Their energy was inexhaustable and they had a tendency to function like a drill team. Given their military-style uniforms, their structured living schedules (madatory PT, living barrack-style) and the fact that they operated out of an old military base, we began to affectionately refer to them as Americorps’ little paramilitary wing. 😀
I look forward to seeing if my upcoming project will be part of an N-Trip service spike.