Once the initial excitement of being selected to serve with NHC settles, new members are left to think about what is to come over the next few months. Americorps members from all across the country and from a wide range of backgrounds will embark on a journey where they will meet a group of complete strangers and adjust to life in a new city. For some this is daunting, while others see it as a refreshing opportunity. I feel extremely lucky that from all of these unknown factors came a great result. The cohort for this service term is extremely close, and we have all bonded to form a close-knit, family-type environment.
At this point, the entire group has become a great support system with friendships stemming outside of service. At my host site specifically, I am one of two NHC members, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to see one of my colleagues on a daily basis. Like the others, she has become a really solid support system. I feel comfortable going to her for anything whether it is service-related, personal, or completely random. We have bonded over things like our professional goals and personal interests, and it has been a wonderful part of my experience with NHC thus far.
Throughout my time with NHC, I have also had the chance to meet two former NHC members at my host site and a neighboring Health Center. The two members shared my role as Insurance Specialist so we connected instantly. Not only have they become great resources for service-related issues, but they also have become good friends. It is fun to talk about our experiences and discuss the similarities and differences. These stories proved great advice and even comic relief when it is needed. I am thankful that I have had the chance to meet these former members and that they were so welcoming.
Interestingly enough, I even got to meet a prospective NHC member this past week. Should he be selected, he would like to serve here in Philadelphia next year. Even in the short amount of time we spent together we were able to share similarities. This is yet another example of how my time with NHC has allowed me to connect with many people that I may not have had the chance to otherwise. I also came away from this introduction feeling confident that NHC recruitment efforts are reaching the highest quality candidates, and that this year’s members will be succeeded by strong cohorts for years to come.
All of these experiences and personal relationships display the true community feel of NHC. Even in a diverse group of people, our shared situation and shared drive to serve others creates a platform on which connections are built. I feel that future members will really find it easier to find similarities with their cohort, despite differences that will inevitably exist. For prospective members, or anyone considering a similar service opportunity, my hope is that this post encourages you to seek opportunities that will promote personal growth while giving you the chance build meaningful relationships that will last beyond your time in service.