Service During COVID-19

I think we are lucky to be able to serve with AmeriCorps during the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon starting service, I was most worried about how I was going to be able to network and gain experience doing everything virtually. Luckily, thanks to Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams, it has been a breeze completing tasks and making new connections. Serving from home might not be the most ideal situation, but it is the safest way for everyone to stay connected right now with COVID-19. If serving from home was not offered, then I would not have been able to meet all of my wonderful team members and supervisors.

A major benefit of serving from home is not having to worry about the outside weather. Just last week, we had a couple inches of snow and I was still able to work on projects because I did not need to go anywhere. Another benefit of serving from home is being able to wake up and get right to service. There is no big getting ready process in the morning. You can just get dressed and start your day which is helpful when having to wake up early. I think when/if everything goes back to normal it will be a difficult transition for everyone since we have been quarantining for so long. I don’t think that will affect our cohort, but it might create some challenges for the next group. It has been a learning curve for everyone, including supervisors. We are all trying to figure out the best ways to be efficient while serving from home. Staying on track with projects and not getting distracted by household items and activities is challenging, but as time goes on it is getting easier.

Not everything is rosy with service. Being a graduate student and serving ~25 hours a week has been an adjustment. Before AmeriCorps, I worked a retail job where I only worked weekends. I was able to focus on school during the week and work was no big deal. AmeriCorps has made me change my schedule and adapt to a new environment. In my graduate program, we learn a lot about adaptability and how important that skill is to survive in the real world. I have been slowly figuring that out myself when adjusting to the WFH life. I am still finding it difficult to sit all day at the computer and get tasks done, then having to turn around and do homework for another two hours on the computer. Hopefully after my service period is over, I will have tips and tricks for new members to go by.

Since I have been serving for AmeriCorps in the SR2H program, I have already been assigned a couple of projects and tasks that will enhance my resume. A new project that I am hoping goes through this summer will be at the Troy Farmers Market. We hope to be able to teach AmeriCorps Get Active programs to Troy residents at the farmer’s market. I hope that COVID won’t ruin this opportunity for community members to be active and get some socialization this summer. Another program that I am working on for Troy Beaumont is going to be called “Wellness Wednesday’s”. There is a new walking path that connects Troy Beaumont to the Sterling Heights nature trail that spans about 2 miles. Each Wednesday starting in May, there will be a walk and talk session where speakers can come and discuss healthy topics. A few of the topics I have come up with are outdoor safety tips, importance of hydration, and importance of exercise during a pandemic. After all the quarantining we have done, this will be a great opportunity to get active. I am looking forward to the next seven months of service and hope I can make a positive impact on at least one person.

– Andrea B.

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