By Kayla Ihrig, AmeriCorps member serving the American Red Cross NW Region
Twelve months ago, in distress over a disappointing job search, I read about AmeriCorps on an online discussion board. The next day, I sat on my parents’ couch in suburban Pennsylvania and submitted my application on July 4, 2015. I accepted an AmeriCorps position the next week and packed up my car and moved 2,000 miles to Washington State the next month.
Flash forward to July 4, 2016: I stood in a sea of 65,000 people at Gasworks Park in Seattle and enjoyed fireworks beside Lake Union. There were two weeks left in my service term, I would soon repack my life and move to Chicago for a job with an architecture firm.
So much has changed in a year.
Before my service term, I had never been to Washington. I blindly moved across the country for a term of service with the American Red Cross serving as a communications coordinator. I wanted an adventure, an opportunity to advance my career and the chance to travel. I’m happy to say I found all of that. My term only lasted 10.5 months, but the skills, connections and memories I’ve accumulated will last much longer.
This term has had a huge impact on my life, and I feel good knowing that I’ve also positively impacted the lives of others. I prepared hundreds of youth and adults for disasters. I helped tell dozens of stories. I learned lifesaving skills that I may need someday. And I became a part of a worldwide humanitarian network that I will continue to serve with for years to come.