Six weeks of living with 10 other people, crawling under houses, painting, hanging drywall, flooring and a hundred other things went a lot faster than expected. By the time we were back in Colorado and one of the other team leaders said "six weeks ago" I had to think twice, it felt like I had only just left the Aurora campus, and there I was back in the thick of it. I had no expectations going into my first round of service with NCCC, which is probably part of the reason it went so swimmingly. I'm not saying there were no issues, bouts of exhaustion and frustration were inevitable, but it was an eventful six weeks, filled with loads of laughter and smiles to counter the moans and groans.
Throughout all the training we endured, lectures on leadership, diversity, team management and professionalism, there was little conversation around reward. Education award and other work related benefits, sure, but not the emotional reward we would all would receive throughout the round. Having traveled, taught and volunteered before and knowing the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment after serving a community, that was a main factor in my applying to Americorps NCCC in the first place. After weeks of training, meeting and getting to know corps members and then traveling 16+ hours to Texas, my thoughts of service and reward had fallen by the wayside. I knew the reason I was there, the work I was supposed to be doing, but I couldn't imagine how it would be received by the community. In short, it was amazing.
Aside from all of the lectures, power points, discussions and team builders we did have a few opportunities to get out of the ‘classroom’. Our first weekend together the unit assistance had helped to set up a service day for all of the corps members. It was both a good opportunity to get off campus and also get to know our corps members in a different environment. Water and Fire units were headed downtown to work on flower bed removal and mulching while Earth unit traveled only a few miles from campus to Planes Conservation Center to help them with a few different projects. The specifics of the day weren’t 100 percent clear before we had left campus, but we were prepared for whatever they threw at us.
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".