Nick, age 25.
Host site: Common Threads in Bellingham, WA
“I came to Bellingham because of Mount Baker. It was after a transition in my life where my hand was sucked into a machine when I was working. I had pretty extensive hand surgery and have a bunch of metal in my pinkie. I was ready to transfer out of manual labor, but I didn’t know how to do that. It’s all I had known. Immediately after graduating high school, a couple of buddies working for a plant in Everett hooked me up with a job. I was doing the load and unload for a couple of years. After that, I was a mover for a moving company in Seattle. Tips were really good. Then I got into aerospace, and that’s when the accident with my hand happened. I’m a little bit disabled in my right hand because of the metal in there. It put things into perspective. I needed a change. It was either I needed to move out of the state or to Bellingham, where I had an outlet. And the outlet was my mom and her wife, who were living there.
At first, I was in Bellingham for over 90 days without a job, months after recovering from my injury. Fortunately, I got the job at Baker. It was wintertime, and I got a job there to teach skiing and snowboarding. In that community, every friend that I made was in school, already graduated, or worked for a nonprofit. They were all somehow already integrated into the Bellingham community. It was actually the close friends I made at Baker that told me to go to school. They kept telling me, ‘You really got to go to school. You have to go to school.’ So, I enrolled in a business class, a communications class, and an English class at Whatcom. And I fell in love with the English department at Whatcom. Now I’m a full-time student at Western. In my senior year.
When COVID hit, I was working at the Olive Garden. Then lockdown happened and all the restaurants had to close. March 13 was my last day of work. I had no money. I filed for unemployment that night. It was so hard. It was back to basics—cutting top ramen packs in half. But I’m resourceful. It wasn’t cool seeing my friends going through that, and seeing how it impacted them mentally, worrying about paying bills. There is food insecurity among the employees in the restaurant industry.
I still consider the restaurant industry my home, but it’s going through some hard changes right now. I really like what Common Threads and AmeriCorps are doing to help communities in Washington. I joined the WA COVID Response Corps because I wanted to find a way to give back to my community here in Bellingham. This opportunity was the one I wanted the most. I turned down other gigs because I wanted to be a part of the corps. I want to make a lasting impression. Bring optimism, positivity and joy in a time of stress and uncertainty.”