“I was in school until 2017. I was supposed to graduate a year before, but I had some medical issues, so I stayed back. After that, my medical issues got better, and I got a job at an animal hospital and was a kennel assistant for a couple of months. I really enjoyed it. I was able to get certifications and was moving my way up to become a technician. Then my medical issues happened again, and I wasn’t able to continue. So then, I babysat for my sister, who had a three-month-old daughter and had to go back to work. I have half-siblings, and their mom needed help, so I would watch the kids and take them to school. I also had a family friend who needed help with childcare. That’s what I did up until joining the WA COVID Response Corps.

I was supposed to go to school through Job Corps. I had a date ready to go; then COVID happened about two weeks before I was supposed to leave. They closed down and didn’t know when they were opening again. There was nothing. I had planned on this to start my future. When that didn’t pan out, I decided to look for jobs. I was babysitting for a while because I had kept my hopes up of still going to school. More and more, I couldn’t just stay home. I couldn’t just do nothing. The pandemic is scary, but I wanted to find something where I could help other people. I was looking through Indeed and found out about the opportunity. It sounded intriguing to me—how they described what you would be doing and the possibilities of how you could help. I was excited about it.

Helping people makes me happy. It’s in my personality. It makes the day more enjoyable to know that I helped someone out and that it meant something. I’ve been a big caretaker since I was 12. My sister was born with heart defects, and by helping her and her differences, it showed me how much I liked doing this type of work.

I’m shy, but I’m still a people person. I watched my niece a whole lot, so to go from seeing her every single day and then not because we have a high-risk case at home, it’s hard. I have to be careful. I stay outside—we turned this shop thing into a bedroom, so I had a place to stay away from my sister as much as possible. I can see her a little, but we keep our distance.

The COVID Response Corps is necessary because of how limited places are during the pandemic. They need extra help. Working at Lower Columbia CAP, we need all the volunteers we can get to distribute food and do commodities day. Some of the people we serve are experiencing homelessness rely on the food for the month, some of them are elderly people who only have a relative or caregiver who can bring them items every so often, and some of them are struggling to get out and get the food themselves and need food delivered to their homes.

I’m glad I found the program. It’s helped me out, not just financially. It’s helped me out mentally and physically. I go in thinking, ‘I’m going to help people today.’ It’s really nice.