As the world contracts, keeps its distance, and holds – or at least masks – its breath, there is much that’s still in need of tending. The motto of AmeriCorps is, “Getting things done”, and CAC AmeriCorps, its partner organizations, and its members have creatively adapted, improvised, and remained resolute in providing service to the community.
I love AmeriCorps. I love the people in it, the people it serves, the people leading it, the people doing it, the AmeriPets, the AmeriGear, the AmeriSpirit, I love the whole darn thing. Specifically, I love CAC AmeriCorps. I love it because my experience serving here has fundamentally redefined the trajectory of my life, even at a point where I had previously thought I was doomed to mediocrity.
Article Author: Gordon Harless, 2019-2020 CAC AmeriCorps VISTA Leader Ashley Gustafson, CAC AmeriCorps 2019-2020 VISTA Member Cameron Henshaw, 2019-2020 CAC AmeriCorps VISTA Member
All across the country, communities are suffering from the effects of the opioid and substance abuse epidemic. Over 72,000 people died from drug overdose in 2017 alone, and even now in 2020, 130 people die every day from drug overdose. Locally, Tennessee alone had 1,818 overdose deaths in 2018. Tennessee has a high number of non-fatal overdoses as well, and access to powerful drugs is not slowing. There were over 6 million prescriptions for painkillers filled in Tennessee in 2018. That means for every 1000 Tennesseans, 901 of them would have been able to have access to painkillers.
I woke up in my new Knoxville home, rolling off the tattered mattress pad serving as my temporary bed onto the laminate wood floor, covered in a layer of dust. What was this barren room? I had left my comfortable, cozy, love-filled Michigan home to move South and start a new adventure, but in the early morning light the emptiness of this new habitat was overwhelming.
Restructuring your entire life has a way of bringing your values (and instabilities) into sharp relief. I was frantic those first couple of days, insisting on unpacking each box, hanging each painting, arranging each book on a shelf. I couldn’t handle living in a half-lived-in place. My cat couldn’t handle it either. She dove into an uncovered AC vent and remained there for an entire day, my certainty about her tragic demise not helping my already stress tangled brain.
A few weeks in, I found myself nestled into a cozy nook of my room, cat on my lap (she decided against permanent residence in the AC vent when she realized there was no food in there), reflecting on what had made me feel so frenetic and anxious those first few days. Continue reading “Homemaking to Placemaking”
One of the roles of CAC AmeriCorps staff is to conduct at least 2 yearly site visits for all of our members. While the idea of a “site visit” from program staff might seem intimidating, the true purpose of these is to check on regulatory requirements (is your AmeriCorps Serving Here sign up?), check in with the site supervisor, but most importantly, talk to and get to know the member a bit better to help guide them in their current projects as well as help them identify long term goals to get ready for life after AmeriCorps.
A year of service through CAC AmeriCorps can look different from person to person. Depending on your service site, you could be engaging in anything from hiking to remove invasive plant species, performing environmental education, or building capacity through the office or organization you are serving with. As staff, we often tell Continue reading “Chasing Conservation through ConServe Knoxville”
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