Meet Our Member – Alanna Ojibway
Chilren's Services Associate
Alanna is serving at the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction as the Children's Services Associate. She is 23 years old, and grew up here in Vermont before moving to Santa Cruz CA for school. After spending time away, she realized that Vermont really was a place unlike anywhere else and was excited about moving back and being able to serve the community she grew up in with a new lens and appreciation of the area and the people.
What is a typical day like in your AmeriCorps position?
A typical day at the Haven is sort of like a box of chocolate--always a surprise but always something I come away a little more full than I started. During the day, I am always kept busy with different work. It could be anything from preparing healthy snack or activities for the kids once they arrive after school, to correspondence with teachers/guidance counselors/or therapists about specific issues with the children we serve, to planning more long-term projects like summer-time curriculum or support to families planning summer camps for children. And then every day from 3-5 I help run an after school program which is offered to children who are currently living in the shelter as well as those who have lived there in the past but have moved out. Given the nature of a homeless shelter, the exact number of the children in the program fluctuates over time, but generally there are about 20-25 children here on any given day and we give them a healthy after school snack, homework help, crafts, outdoor play, and any kind of social/emotional support that we are able to.
Why did you join VHCB AmeriCorps?
I joined VHCB AmeriCorps because after graduating from college it was really important to me to find work that was meaningful, and that I was able to give back in some way. I had initially explored the idea of serving an AmeriCorps position in another state, but it eventually just made the most sense to me to give back to the community that I know the best, and feel I am able to give back to the most.
What has surprised you most about serving with AmeriCorps?
What has surprised me the most about serving with AmeriCorps I think is the amount of support and flexibility I've been given through my work to explore/learn about new things. Both the staff at VHCB as well as the Haven have both been more supportive than I could have imagined when I have come to them with new ideas. And on the other end of the spectrum, when I've struggled with issues that have arisen this year they have also been the first source of support to give me reassurance and any additional resources needed.
What is the highlight of serving at your site?
The highlight of serving at the Haven is for sure the direct work I am able to have with the kids on a daily basis, and to experience how much of an impact one person can have in making a positive impact in the lives of different children.
What would you like other people to know about serving with VHCB AmeriCorps?
I think anyone considering serving as an AmeriCorps member through VHCB should know that each position really does offer the opportunity of a lifetime, especially for people transitioning out of college and looking to find meaningful work where they are able to really make a difference. VHCB really has opened my eyes up to all the different ways that the AmeriCorps members throughout VT are helpful, and depended on for the amazing work they put in to making each community a better place.