Sophie, age 27.

Host site: Byrd Barr Place in Seattle, WA

“I had walked by Byrd Barr Place every day for years on my way to work at the Seattle International Film Festival. When COVID hit, I was laid off from my job of two years. COVID helped catalyze a decision point in my life—I originally wanted to apply to graduate school for film studies, but I now had the time and space to reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life to be more involved in the community and to help make a change. Between the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID, I wanted to channel my emotions into tangible actions. What can I do to be the person I want to be in this world?

I reached out to Byrd Barr Place about volunteering, and when the AmeriCorps position opened up, I was encouraged to apply. Serving with AmeriCorps has allowed me to see the bigger picture about the impact we’re having on the community. Even on harder days, after talking with the clients, I feel better. They’re my absolute favorite part of the position, and I love helping them as they shop for food at the food bank.

I’ve also helped to establish a partnership with the Burke Museum to include art and educational activities into the weekend meal kits for youth experiencing food insecurity as part of the Backpack Brigade program. I’ve also reached out to local art supply stores to gather donations. Artist & Craftsman Supply recently donated 100 watercolor sets to include the youth backpacks.

It’s been cool to work on the ground. I also feel lucky to meet new people – I feel engaged in my community in a way that I wasn’t before. This experience has pushed me to question and evolve things that I took for granted. Counseling and helping people are something I’ve thought about before as a career path, but it felt very distant. COVID changed this. I applied to and recently was accepted to graduate school, not for film studies, but for social work!

Serving with AmeriCorps has been a growing experience. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do this. I’m inspired by the team and learning so much from them.”


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