We asked the entire national service community to share their #ChangedbyService stories. Here’s a great submission from Laura Jenkins, an AmeriCorps NCCC alum:
Where and why did you serve?
I joined AmeriCorps NCCC because I honestly did not know where else I was headed next. I had graduated from college and I was working at a shoe store. It was at this point in my life that I wanted something more. I wanted to help people. AmeriCorps NCCC gave me the opportunity to do just that AND find out more about what I wanted to do in the future. I served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps in the Pacific Region as a Team Leader for Class 21A from 2014-2015.
What kind of impact did you have?
My team did everything from making adobe bricks to reconstructing a historic wall in Death Valley National Park, to planting native plants to preserve a butterfly habitat in Oregon, to counseling military kids at a summer camp in the San Bernardino National Forest. One of the most impactful parts of the year for the team was serving in Death Valley National Park. We picked up thousands of pounds of garbage and debris from around the park and the rangers really took notice. Over 1,000,000 people visit Death Valley every year. Although those visitors may not have outright noticed our service, we were working to preserve the beauty and ecology of the desert oasis for the millions of future park-goers and animal inhabitants.
How has your service changed you?
After AmeriCorps NCCC, I see life through a lens of service: I appreciate the work that went into a well-maintained trail and hand-built shelving unit. I see the importance in recycling and encourage others to do so. Whenever I see litter on the ground, I feel the need to pick it up. I feel more connected to nature and the beauty of the outdoors. Through lessons from my team and the communities we lived and served in, I became a doer. The two greatest gifts that AmeriCorps has given me are the lifelong bonds I now share with fellow AmeriCorps members and a spirit of service that I will forever carry with me.
Is it important to you that others have similar service opportunities available to them?
All of us have the power to help others and sometimes we just need the right avenue to do so. AmeriCorps NCCC was my portal to being able to directly serve communities all across the Pacific Region of the US. Not only was I able to help others, but I also learned more about who I was during those 11 months. Serving with AmeriCorps NCCC provided me with an opportunity to gain new skill sets and actually try out multiple career paths in less than a year. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to serve others if they are willing. Sometimes what people need is a way to serve that is the right fit for them. When we have the right service opportunities available to us, that is when we become agents of positive change.