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Reflections of a YWCA AmeriCorps Member

August 31, 2012

Today’s post originally appeared on the Volunteer YWCA blog on July 31, 2012. Samantha Tripoli just completed her one year of AmeriCorps service with YWCA’s Health Access and Volunteer Services Departments.

I’ll preface this post by inviting you all into my cubicle at the YWCA’s Volunteer Services office. As I sit here, on my last day of service with the YWCA, I’m rushing through emotions of sadness, excitement, anxiety and joy. At risk of sounding bipolar, let me explain.

One year ago, I was living in Upstate New York, was fresh out of college, and felt the way most young idealists feel. I was being released into the wild for the first time ever, and had what I considered a pretty decent “toolkit,” as my Sociology professor called it, to help me through my journey in the working world. After almost taking a position in Spokane, WA, I was so delighted to get a call from the YWCA’s Volunteer Services Director offering me the AmeriCorps position here. One month later, I was stuffing my life into the trunk of my first self-purchased mid-sized sedan, and set out on my journey westward.

While I could barely contain my excitement for a fresh start, I was also slightly worried about what the people in these parts call the “Seattle freeze.” I considered myself an outgoing, social person, but I couldn’t squash the fear that I would never make any friends. And, as I reflect on this past year, I’ve come to realize that never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find such wonderful connections at my placement site.

After about a month into my term of service, I was feeling this strange sense of belonging in the same space I parked my behind 40 hours every week. Walking into the doors of the Volunteer Services or Health Access offices felt refreshing every day. Not only was I welcomed by the familiar “Good mornings” and appropriate small talk, but I was truly loved and appreciated for simply being myself.

And as I reflect upon my term of service, I am so grateful for the professional development I’ve received and the strides I’ve taken to become a better team player. But I feel an even greater sense of gratitude for the strength I’ve received through my friendships, mentors and leaders here. I feel so much joy for the relationships I’ve made here, and the extended family I’ve been so lucky to come across.

But, with this joy brings sadness. As I begin my new position in what could quite possibly be my dream job, I worry I’ll never find the same camaraderie I’ve been so lucky to have had here. But for now, I’ll keep my head held high and try to make all my supporters here at the YWCA proud.

With my newly monogrammed briefcase in tow, I look forward to embarking on my new journey. And for the new AmeriCorps who will soon be joining the ranks of this wonderful organization, you are very lucky to come into a team like this!

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