Between a Rock and an AmeriCorps Year

April Great Story by Lora Elliott, Sacramento Fellow

AmeriCorps is hard.

That may be stating the obvious, but the obvious makes it no less true. This comes at the heels of what may be considered the ‘low point’ of my service year in AmeriCorps. In the past month, my car was given an official diagnosis of terminal illness: it needs a new transmission and a laundry list of other repairs that are more expensive than my poor car is worth. My housing situation also fell through, and my search for a new place to live gave me a chance to meet people who were various shades of eccentric, and perennially flakier than dandruff. My work schedule was no more forgiving, with enough converging deadlines to make a California highway interchange at rush hour look tame by comparison.

I learned that a steady diet of drip coffee and stress is not good for a person.

As it always seems to, though, things worked out. I am not homeless, and I managed to survive my first wave of hectic work deadlines in my professional career. I am okay, plus or minus.

My half-year of service so far in AmeriCorps has taken several things from me. I am no longer geographically close to my friends and family. I am genuinely alone, and I feel like I have lost the stability that provides. Even still, AmeriCorps has made me nothing short of thankful for everything I have. I am grateful for a home, and for food to eat. I am grateful for my ability to craft and to make things, and my resourcefulness to transform what I have into something useful and beautiful. And I have never been more aware of the difference between a need and something I only want. More than anything, I am confident because I have learned strength, integrity, and persistence this year.

These are all lessons we learn eventually in our adult life, but AmeriCorps has been my own personal baptism by fire in these qualities. AmeriCorps represents the time I chose to dive head-first out of my comfort zone and live according to the values and intentions I had always claimed were important. Now, everyday, my intentions and my values are my truth, with all thanks due to AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is hard, but it is so worth it.