Over the last few years, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting AmeriCorps teams as we’ve been rebuilding in Lake County, CA. This year, we’re pleased to be hosting not one, but two teams across two counties here in Northern California! The teams will be under the supervision of North Coast Opportunities and Hope City. For those unfamiliar with what AmeriCorps is: they’re a way for young people to serve across the country on a number of projects just like ours. You can visit their website for more info here. Let’s meet our teams!

We met with the teams as they were prepping meals at our Middletown dorm. Before one of the teams is sent out to Mendocino county, the two teams have had the opportunity to stay together and enjoy a bit of down time while we’re revving things up after our winter break. These teams have been enrolled in the AmeriCorps programs since the beginning of October. The core members go through several weeks of team building and training before they head out for their first assignment. One of the teams spent six weeks in November and December serving at the non-profit, Green River Pact, in Green River, Utah, a town with about 950 people. They assisted with an after school program and helped with renovations at the community center and the thrift store, as well as worked at the community garden.

Abby Lindsay, Beverly Massachusetts and Lauren Martins were working together prepping the food for the team dinner. On the menu, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and rotisserie chicken. While cutting vegetables, Abby said that she loves her team. They have become a tight knit family and she has made friendships that will last a lifetime. “I’ve really enjoyed helping people, learning new skills, both things I really value.”

Lauren peeled potatoes and said her favorite part of the program so far was the new learning opportunities, meeting new people, seeing new places, and learning new skills. “I really like our team and am happy to be a part of this program in this place.”

Abby said, “The hardest part of the project for me is the construction work. I don’t have that type of experience. I expect it will be hard, but I’m up for learning new skills during our first round and I had to rely on our team members with more experience to get through the learning process.”

Lauren said, “I’ve found it harder to adapt to new situations. It’s more difficult that I thought it would be, but it’s taught me that life is going to happen. You have to be ready for change.”

Both women said they find the area very beautiful and they are glad to be in the program and in this community. Abby said, “Everyone is so welcoming here and it makes it easier.”

Team members take turns cooking for the entire team so each person cooks with a partner once a week for their evening meal. Another team member, Julia McGann was working on putting away some of the food from their mid-day meal at the worksite. Julia has already graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree. She said the program is an opportunity to work on leadership skills while working and traveling the country. She said the structure of the program can be both a help and a challenge. The structure goes beyond the work day. “You’re not just working all day with your team, you’re together for meals, for team meetings, for training. It’s much more than just putting in 40 hours at the office.”

The work these young people put in is so much more than what they could possibly imagine when they first signed up. Not just from a labor standpoint, but the impact they have on these communities is huge. We’re so glad to have both teams working with us and look forward to the amazing work they’ll do!