By Kayla Ihrig, AmeriCorps member serving the American Red Cross NW Region

Screenshot 2016-07-13 13.44.36

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.

Day of service HFC pic

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.

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