The past year has been amazing! When I walked through the doors at Headquarters on September 1st, 2009, I had no idea what was in store for me during my term of AmeriCorps service. I have come out of it a changed and stronger person. Through long hours, exhausting work and excellent supervision, I have grown into the person I am now.
It began with my supervisor, Jackie Dempsey, who supported, guided, listened and encouraged me and my AmeriCorps co-workers to accomplish what many people thought impossible. We taught American Red Cross safety classes in under-resourced areas without many of the materials that regular instructors had and with an almost non-existent budget. In addition, we performed extremely well while being paid below minimum wage.
After a whirlwind of training in the first three weeks of September, 2009, I was now an instructor of a variety of programs. I was now responsible for conducting outreach to set up classes, teaching the classes and completing all necessary documentation. This was difficult at times because people were less interested in taking a CPR class than they were interested in paying their bills. Even though I taught all classes for free, many people could not attend classes or simply did not show up. This made for a very humbling year. I was still able to interest plenty of people and taught many full classes.
Another aspect of the position was service projects. Individually and as a group, service projects were taken to new levels. A transitional living home named Grace House in Decatur, Illinois got renovated, children learned about all of our kid safety programs, Anixter Center had their courtyard revived with planters and plants, winter coats were donated, canned food was donated, comfort kits were made and many other lives were impacted.
In the end, close to 7,000 people were certified by AmeriCorps members in American Red Cross classes and over 35,000 people were taught in non-certification classes. I know I have changed tremendously and so have my co-workers. This has been an amazing experience and I am so glad that I was a part of it. Thank you AmeriCorps and the American Red Cross!
Written by Jason Schultz