Internship: Sitka AmeriCorps in Sitka, Alaska
What is your major?
Criminology, minor in Psychology
Where was your internship placement? (What is the purpose of the organization?)
I am currently serving through the Sitka AmeriCorps in Sitka, Alaska. I serve approximately 40 hours per week, divided by two service sites – Baranof Elementary and Brave Heart Volunteers. This has been one of the best experiences of my life. Really take the time to find an internship that will be meaningful to you; a place you can learn from – not just about the job, the professional life, but about yourself as well.
What did your general duties involve?
I begin each day at Baranof – an elementary school concentrated with kindergarten and first grade students. Each morning the Breakfast Club meets in the wet-room at school: the Breakfast Club is a program designed to provide well-rounded meals to those students who may not get to eat prior to school or possibly can’t afford it (though it is offered to the entire student body). Generally, ten to seventeen students come every morning. Following breakfast, I report to one of several rooms for 40 minutes to an hour, then continuing on a set schedule until 11:45. Each day varies, averaging out to three or four rooms a day; about an hour and a half to two hours in each of the 11 classrooms, per week.
The second half of my day usually begins around 12 pm at Brave Heart Volunteers (BHV) – a nonprofit organization serving the elderly community. BHV concentrates on the elderly population and more specifically those suffering from chronic and/or terminal illnesses. With support from many volunteers, BHV calms hectic lives and creates a huge net of support for those who need it. I will have the opportunity to grow in many different aspects serving through this site: grant writing, fundraising, coordinating events (I am currently planning a free, grant writing seminar), possible writing opportunities (our quarterly newsletter), and carrying out our visiting and respite services, as well as assist in the set up and comfort of our Grief Support groups and End of Life trainings. A new program that I am honored to be a part of is a storytelling group that meets once a week. I am the recorder for the meeting, while Bonnie (fellow AmeriCorps Volunteer) is the facilitator. The activity is meant to encourage the use of imagination in those suffering from all levels of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia; not only increasing brain activity, but also creating an emotional attachment to the group.
Since the AmeriCorps placement exceeds the requirements for the internship course, I still have much to experience firsthand here in Sitka. The short 300 hour requisite – that seemed dreadful during the time building up to actually registering – has been enlightening and has definitely shaped a distinct career path for me to focus on and reach to fulfill. One skill I am thrilled to be taking away from this experience is grant writing. That is one of the first things I told my site that I wanted to become more fluent in – I suppose, “just ask and you shall receive.”
What was your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience thus far is hard to choose! The first has to do with an event through BHV that we held for our wonderful volunteers. There was a lot of work put in there – phone calls on location changes, confirming attendance, and many, many decorations – oh, and can’t forget the endless collecting of donations (my jobs). In addition, I had to come up with a fun way to distribute our volunteer gifts – the left/right game quickly jumped into my head. After explaining the left/right game is a story read aloud and every time left, right, or across is said, you then must pass your gift to the corresponding direction. The story was to represent our Storytelling program: introduce it, explain what happens and why; writing is a newfound passion of mine so I was thrilled . . . and put to the test. It turned out wonderfully! Everyone enjoyed the story and the game and they also learned a bit about a new opportunity that will be open for them this coming spring. Alaska Day is something still celebrated here in Sitka, but nowhere else in Alaska. To say the least, it is a BIG deal. Through BHV, I got to do PSA announcements for their local radio station – it was such a cool opportunity and a ton of fun! Alaska Day itself was rather crazy too; BHV held an open house as do many of the businesses around town. There is a parade and then the whole town literally shuts down to celebrate the day – it was such an amazing community event to be a part of.