Over the course of my first month here, while spending hours in a conference room learning how to be a leader, there was one message repeatedly reiterated to us, as Team Leaders. Don’t fraternize with anyone, that sounds extreme, but we were directed not to cross lines with staff, corps members and the sponsor, so yeah basically everyone outside the green shirts. I’m all for this on the level of romantic relationships, honestly there just shouldn't’ be any of that in and around Americorps, but on a friendship level this rubbed me the wrong way.
As team leader training came to an end, the 27 of us began to mentally prepare for the arrival of our 240 corps members. We also had physical preparations, hanging posters and door decks, preparing their dorm rooms to look the least bit appealing, and planning all of the training that would be happening over the following three weeks. After the training and storytelling we heard from staff members and previous corps members, I was unsure about what to expected and slightly worried. I had faith though that the corps members assigned to Earth Unit would be amazing people and cause us no problems.
After weeks of training and countless hours sitting in the conference room, it was finally time for us to apply our skills and knowledge to a real world situation. Team green (the not-so-creative name for all Team Leaders) were signed up for a day of service at the Action Center, located in Lakewood CO. The only information we had before arriving was that we'd be helping food and clothing donations which would then be used to support the homeless community and those struggling to make ends meet from the community. I've done work like this on a few previous occasions, but I was not expecting what waited for me at the Action Center. Although they were forced to shut down their shelter services a few years ago due to lack of funding, the Action Center is doing amazing things with the resources they do have.
With training completely under way my 26 companions and I were quickly reminded what it is to sit and listen to presentations one after another, for hours on end. Our first few days of training were just this, without much break in the cycle. We did hold a few sessions outside in the courtyard, unless you count peeing in a cup and getting a flu shot as fun. Beginning last Wednesday though, we were able to get out and stretch our legs, first through driver training for the 15 passenger vans we'll soon be responsible for, and then a half day service project at Cherry Creek State Park. Those were just the warm up though, the big event was saved for the weekend (so yeah minus one day of rest for us), but the high ropes course at Genesee Park was worth it.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".