By Second Term Americorps Member, Allison Schuster
“Once you start working with the Red Cross you will never want to leave.” That’s what my site supervisor told me almost two years ago, when I first began serving as an Americorps member with the American Red Cross. Of course, at the time, I thought he was joking; although as a former AmeriCorps member turned Red Cross Disaster Manager, it was certainly true for him. But, back then I truly thought this would just be a one-time service experience; a way to give back to my community before heading back to school and continuing on with my career.
When my first Americorps term ended, last July, I took a job working for a well-known and well-respected company. However, this work did not allow me to serve those in need in a tangible way and every single day that I went into that office I longed to return to a job where my work was valued and needed. That’s why it didn’t take too much thought to realize I should return for a second term with the AmeriCorps. Now, I’m over halfway through my second term as an AmeriCorps member and I’m loving every minute of it, again!
AmeriCorps is unique because I get to use my skills to serve others during some of their greatest times of need— and for some people, during the most vulnerable moments of their entire lives. I’m also passionate about my work as an Americorps member because I can see, first hand, how my work leads to providing comfort and care throughout the Los Angeles community.
As a member of the Americorps serving with the American Red Cross, the impact I can provide by helping others is priceless. For example, in one of my preparedness presentations, an elementary school student told the story of how his home had burned down. He also said he was frightened about the possibility of something horrific like that happening again. Through my training and experience working with the Red Cross, I was able to share with him how he could help his family prevent another home fire. I was also able to teach him coping skills to use whenever he is afraid. Even as I was instructing the course and providing him with this new information, it became clear how much the information he was learning would calm and reassure him. It was also clear that he would be able to take the skills and methods he learned during the preparedness presentation back to help better educate and better prepare his family, friends and community for emergencies.
As for me, my career plans are still unknown but, I am 100% sure that the spirit of service I have learned as an Americorps member serving two consecutive terms with the American Red Cross will stay with me for the rest of my life. And, no matter what I become, I plan to continue volunteering with the American Red Cross and always be there to help those in need!