|Cory, working hard on her project site.|
People always ask, “What is AmeriCorps?” That question to me is much more than the basic answer we are trained to give. It is learning that having hot water is a privilege, that privacy no longer exists and that the people you meet daily have the ability to change your life. I first stumbled upon the AmeriCorps program when I was 17 and my mom, so desperate for me to have some direction in my life encouraged me to go. At that point there were very few things I actually cared about so I agreed to go. I came into the program resistant to change. I always thought that I knew exactly where my life was going and even though it wasn’t in a positive and healthy direction, I didn’t care. What I failed to realize though was that in this program, change is inescapable.
I remember the moment I felt changed. I was lying on my bunk in Lake Charles, Louisiana about to go to sleep when I realized, “I am different. I see the world different and I now know more than ever, I have the power to make a difference.” That’s the beauty of a program such as this one. You are thrown into situations you never imagined you would be in. You meet amazing people who change your life and challenge you to think differently about the world and you grow and change into the person you were always meant to be. You realize that it is possible for you to change the world. You have the opportunity to see it every day. It was because of that first experience that I knew I was going to come back as a Team Leader. There was nothing I wanted to do more than to give back to a program that made such an incredible and lasting impact on my life.
|Cory (center), with her team, River 3 and their site supervisor.|
All this said, AmeriCorps NCCC can be very challenging. Not every day was easy and rewarding. Sometimes I felt helpless and frustrated at the program, the team and myself. Those days came and went though and in the end we all made it through. As difficult as this year has been in many ways including us losing someone very special, we have all survived it together. I don’t think I will ever fully be able to explain to someone what the AmeriCorps NCCC program really is and what it means to me. If one looks closely they will see it though. It’s a part of who I am. AmeriCorps NCCC is the people I have impacted and who have impacted me, the trails I have worked on, the challenges I overcame, the hardy board I installed, and it’s the growth I have made throughout these past 11 months. It’s who I am and I wouldn’t change any moment of this year. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey with AmeriCorps NCCC both past and present. My experience wouldn’t have been the same without you, I wouldn’t be the same without you.
|Cory served as a Corps Member at the Charleston campus (now closed) in 2006-07.|
|Cory (lower right) and her team at graduation in 2007.|
Cory recently finished her second term of service with AmeriCorps NCCC in December 2013, as a Team Leader for River 3. She is currently pursuing a job in the social services field in Portland, Oregon and will be applying to Portland State University next year to obtain her Master's in Social Work.