By Bee Perry | Year 21 ACC Lehac Member
My year as a member of AmeriCorps Cape Cod (ACC) was a wild ride. I was able to overcome insecurities and grow as a young adult in many ways. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I served at my individual placement the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). By serving with IFAW I was trained on how to help conduct marine mammal rescues, releases, and intakes. I also learned how to manage IFAW’s marine mammal rescue hotline. My Tuesdays were dedicated to manning the phone. I answered calls and made calls to gather information IFAW needed regarding possible injured or stranded marine mammals on the Cape. Talking on the phone is something that has always made me uncomfortable. In the past, whenever my own phone would ring or I needed to make a call to someone, I would avoid the task. However, by managing the hotline for IFAW I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and face my fear head on. It took some time, but I was eventually able to serve on the hotline, comfortably and proudly. My service with IFAW taught me things about marine mammal conservation and myself as a young professional I never thought I would learn before being a part of AmeriCorps Cape Cod.
Outside of regular AmeriCorps service hours, I could also see myself growing as a member of the community. As part of ACC I lived in the program’s Wellfleet House with eight other AmeriCorps members and my Program Supervisor. This meant alone time was scarce. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but it was an adjustment on my part because I was used to having my own living space. In an attempt create more space for myself outside of the residence, I turned to the Wellfleet community. As the year progressed, I found myself starting to go out into the community more. This was very new for me. I began attending weekly community dinners hosted by the 246 Community Kitchen in town. I would talk to my neighbors at these dinners to learn more about them, while also teaching them more about today’s young people. I felt like I was able to make connections with people by putting myself out there and branching out further beyond the ACC residential community I lived in.
When the lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic began to take effect on the program and the local community, I did not let that stop me from staying engaged with my surroundings. I wanted to stay involved so I reached out to fellow members of the Wellfleet community to learn about what people were doing during his time to support one another. I contacted people in the community who were making face masks. To keep myself safe during the pandemic while still supporting local businesses, I decided to purchase masks from them. Through those connections, I was even able secure a donation of locally made masks for the entirety of the ACC Wellfleet House community. During my time exploring the Wellfleet community, I had become familiar with a local restaurant called the Fox and Crow Café. Because of the connections I had made in town, I was able to reach out to them regarding their non-profit organizations called Common Table. This organization provides free meals to Wellfleet community members in need. Thanks to the generosity of Common Table, I was able to set-up daily food delivery for the members of the Wellfleet House.
Throughout all the experiences I have had and all the connections I have made during my year with ACC, I have been able to reflect on my physical and mental health – as well as my habits both as a young professional and young adult. I used this year as an opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone and learn from the people in my residential community and my professional connections. This year has really showed me how I can be a better individual for myself and for those around me. I have learned I am person who can bring change to the world!