During a county-wide economic development meeting in Roseburg with city leaders from all across Douglas County, the other attendees along with myself were prompted to introduce ourselves and the towns we were representing. As someone who barely heard of AmeriCorps before I applied for the RARE Program, I tend to explain my position in vague blanket terms to avoid having to dive into micro clarifications of what I do. During this roundtable, I highlighted the numerous ways my community had grown since it first became a RARE community four years earlier and briefly mentioned that my position is an AmeriCorps position.
Immediately following the roundtable, I was approached by the City Manager of a different Douglas County city attending the meeting.
“That program is doing something great. You’re a RARE, aren’t you?”
With an annual cohort of about 30 members and each placement spread far and wide across the almost 100,000 square miles that make up the state of Oregon, it’s easy to come to the misguided conclusion that the RARE Program is perhaps not widely known. However, making an impact in over 100 communities over the course of 25 years tends to help spread the word, and being amongst the cohort during the 25th year has disproved my own misguided conclusion of the public’s awareness of the RARE Program both within my community as well as representing in other parts of the state.
Serving with the Reedsport Main Street Program following four consecutive RARE predecessors is turning out to be challenging in unexpected but rewarding ways. From what local community members tell me and from what I’ve found within RMSP’s past records, I am vastly different from the previous Reedsport RARE participants. However, that’s why Reesdport’s Main Street has been able to progress the way it has. That’s the beauty of this entire program. So many individuals with different skills and different talents go out and do what they do best, then the people after them with even more diverse backgrounds go out to communities both new and seasoned with RARE to serve perhaps in the same position, but it ends up growing in a completely different yet necessary capacity.
After that meeting in Roseburg and hearing from an unexpected stranger how important the RARE Program is in rural Oregon, now when people ask me about what I do I lead with RARE and AmeriCorps because this program is doing something great in the state of Oregon.
A bit about the author, Emily Bradley:
- Currently serving as Main Street Coordinator for the Reedsport Main Street Program.
- Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Public Relations, University of Alabama, Spring 2018
- People may be surprised… “when they learn that I’ve travelled as much as I have for someone my age. I’ve been to 26 countries on four continents”
Does community development work interest you? Are you looking for a life changing experience in rural Oregon? Learn more about serving with the RARE AmeriCorps Program via our website: https://rare.uoregon.edu/application-process/member-application-process