AmeriCorps members in Juneau celebrated one of their three-a-year days of service helping put together emergency preparedness packages for tribal children across the Northwest.
Working with Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s Tribal Emergency Operations Center, members readied more than 1,000 kits to go out to children across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve been here for so long that I’ve always worked in partnership with Tlingit and Haida,” said Shari Paul, United Way of Southeast Alaska’s director of the AmeriCorps program in an interview. “(The AmeriCorps members) want to learn about the land they’re working on and more about Alaska Native culture and history.”
Members packed the kits, which included masks, a water bottle, a flashlight, a key chain, a hand sanitizer bottle, a bike reflector and a coloring book teaching kids about COVID-19 mitigation.
“I wanted a more permanent position where I could get to know the community a bit better,” said Kelsey Rich, originally from Cleveland and who previously worked with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps across the country. “It’s been fantastic.”
Rich is one of nine members to work in Juneau for this year’s group. Seven of those members have had at least one year working with AmeriCorps before, a relatively high percentage of veterancy.
“They know a lot of the rules and regulations,” Paul said. “They have the experience.”
Lucas Oswald, originally from the Chicago area, is another, coming up after a year working in Florida north of Fort Lauderdale assisting with literacy programs.
“This is my second year doing AmeriCorps,” Oswald said in an interview. “Alaska is much different than anywhere I’ve ever lived.”
Oswald, who works at Sayéik: Gastineau Community School, said he’s enjoying the change of pace from Florida.
“It’s been good. I like the seasons. I like winter,” Oswald said. “This is definitely the smallest place I’ve ever lived. It doesn’t feel as isolated as I thought it would. There’s so much to do.”
AmeriCorps members have three volunteer days a year, Paul said, as part of the AmeriCorps mission. The 9/11 day of service has long been part of the organization’s efforts.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.