I did my AmeriCorps service September 2014 – August 2015 at the American Red Cross of West Michigan in Grand Rapids. I was the communications coordinator and for most of my year of service, I was the sole team member working on communications for Red Cross in the state. I managed the West Michigan chapter’s social media, maintained the website and blog, and managed press relations, in addition to helping with volunteer coordination and disaster relief responsibilities.
In 2014, I was straight out of college and pretty clueless when it came to what I was supposed to do next. One thing was certain though: I wanted to help people. Enter AmeriCorps. I’d originally applied as a volunteer coordinator but upon interviewing, I was informed that a communications position was open and I snatched the opportunity.
Favorite memory: In May 2015, series of storms and tornadoes broke out in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and other Great Plains states. I want to say more than 100 tornadoes broke out in less than a week and it was devastating to many communities. Red Cross Disaster Relief teams were deployed from all over the country, including teams from the West Michigan chapter. I deployed with a fellow AmeriCorps member to Lawton, Oklahoma, for two weeks to help the communities that were impacted. We helped set up shelters, checked people into the shelters, assessed damage to homes, and provided resources to anyone who needed them. Even those this memory is obviously shadowed with the knowledge that people’s lives were impacted by disaster, I consider it the most rewarding part of my AmeriCorps service. I connected with so many people on a deep level and heard dozens of incredible stories from those affected. It really helped shape my understanding of service and the mission of Red Cross.
Being an AmeriCorps member helped me realize that you can help people or a community everywhere you go, in big ways and small. It’s as simple as offering a shoulder to cry on or lending an ear to someone who wants to share their story.