AmeriCorps NCCC has changed my life in so many ways, but the one that stands out is my shyness. I have never been the type who would do things that would put the attention on me or talk to random people. AmeriCorps forced me to step out of my comfort zone and I am thankful for that.
Just before I applied to AmeriCorps NCCC, I was in a standstill. After going through two years of college, I realized I didn't like what I was doing with my life. My days were becoming a little repetitive, and I dropped out of college. After returning home, I couldn't find a job; even the local fast food drive thru wouldn't hire me! So, my boyfriend referred me to a program called AmeriCorps NCCC. I had never heard of it before. I did some research and realized it was exactly what I was looking for. I applied, joined the AmeriCorps group on Facebook and the waiting began! I was accepted in September of 2010 and from then on my life changed.
|Courtney, far right, with her class 17 team Moose 4|
There were some great moments and some challenging moments during my year. The most difficult? Two words: Camp Brown; aka, my 3rd round. It had to been one of the most challenging projects for my team. I am not a kid person, but being a co-counselor for a week and an activity counselor for the remainder of the round, I've grown to like children. Not saying I want to surround myself with children, but I can tolerate them a bit more. It was the first time that I had to actually lead people by myself. So, I pretty much was a single counselor, waking the girls up in the morning, taking them to breakfast, setting the table and making sure we made it to our activities on time. I told myself that I would try to be a positive role model to the girls and any other campers I interacted with; and I hope a little piece of me brushed off on them.
Overall, my favorite rounds of the year would have to be the disaster rounds I went on. The first was on the disaster composite team Thunder 1. We worked in Tuscaloosa, AL, primarily at the Volunteer Reception Center. We also removed debris, conducted disaster assessments and worked in donations warehouses. Seeing the destruction of the tornadoes firsthand was an eye-opening experience. So many people thanked us, even if we were just answering phone calls or registering volunteers.
Months later I was sent to New Jersey on another composite team which worked for the American Red Cross in bulk distribution. Even though our days were long and sometimes slow, we got the job done by helping the older Red Cross volunteers.
|Courtney, left, works alongside local Boys Scouts, firefighters and police officers distributing clean up kits for residents of Cranford, NJ with the American Red Cross|
Out of all of my disaster deployments, working for All Hands in upstate New York was the most rewarding. My team and I went into dark, murky basements and hauled out buckets and buckets of mud and muddy water for hours, but it was SO worth it! I learned to push myself, even though I was exhausted. But I knew that somebody had to do it.
|Courtney serving with All Hands in upstate New York|
To the current and future AmeriCorps NCCC members: your service year can be amazing. Your service year may be hard and you might want to quit, but continue to push yourself and get things done! Since graduating from Class 17, I feel so confident; as if I can do anything. I now feel as if I can go back to college with a more level head and determination to complete my degree.