Shedding Away Self Doubts through Service

By Kaitlyn Cook, Pendleton RARE Participant

It was 5:45 am, dark, icy, and I was trying to carry a plate of homemade Christmas cookies across the street into the belly of the Pendleton government/court/library/ building. The committee meeting starts at 7:00 am but I had to print the meeting agendas and set up the room. I arrived at work too early so everything was done in twenty minutes, which gave me plenty of time to imagine how many ways this meeting could be a complete failure.

Photo from City of Pendleton Facebook

Considering my task, failure seemed like it could very well be an option. I did not personally know the people that I invited to be on this committee, it was icy, and early in the morning to talk about how to plan a convention to teach people about home ownership and renting in Pendleton. I was hoping that they cared enough about this conference to be involved.

I waited. I was accompanied by the custodial staff who was talking about his recent trip to Disney World and my many feelings of self-doubt to keep me company.

At 6:55 one person trickled in the room, got a steaming cup of Folgers coffee and a cookie. We made some small talk. Then, ever so slowly, people started to trickle in. Some knew each other, others did not, but there was chatter among folks. With some persuading, I gave my Christmas cookies to them. I waited a couple of minutes after 7:00 for everyone to settle in their seats and the meeting started. Then even more people came in. It was a higher attendance rate than I expected and had to drag a couple more chairs to the table.

Now that the table was full, my worries about attendance floated away and I could focus on trying to lead this committee meeting. I was frantically writing notes and all seemed well.

However, the self-doubt did not subside as much as I’d thought. I was unsure if the people I invited would be intrigued enough to want to participate in the discussion. My mind flashed back to my high school days where the teacher would ask a question and the class would stare blank-faced back at them. I did not want a discussion like that. Despite my worries, the discussion flowed well. So well, that I had to wrap up the meeting so we did not go over time. It was a successful meeting.

Self-doubt is something I struggle with. It can be mentally taxing to do it constantly and it can take me longer to produce work. However, this instance gave me the confidence in my ability to bring people together for a common cause. It is great that the community has the ability to get together to solve a problem. I am deeming this meeting to be the starting point for me to start shedding away, bit-by-bit, my self-doubts and become more confident in my professional abilities.

About the Author, Katilyn Cook: Kaitlyn majored in Planning, Public Policy and Management and minored in Spanish at the University of Oregon. Originally from a rural town on the Oregon Coast, Kaitlyn aspires to use her skills to make positive change in communities like the one she grew up in. She looks forward to applying the city planning theories and principles she learned at UO to benefit the community of Pendleton.

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: 

Need A Career Switch? I Did And Did It By Applying To RARE

By Michael Hoch, Energy Efficiency Coordinator, City of Talent

After college, I was eager to find work back in the United States. I just completed my master’s in environmental and developmental economics in London and was ready to use it at my next job. When I got back, I started applying to federal jobs doing research in energy economics. Then, one day, this all came to an end. I woke up to multiple miss calls saying that the jobs I was applying for were terminated due to an executive order by our new president. When this happened, I kept trying to find a job in that field but failed…

As time kept going on, I decided to take a job doing habitat restoration and volunteer management at a city’s parks and recreation department. I decided to work this job until I could find a job in the energy or economic research sector. During this time of waiting, I decided to become active in some nonprofits that restore and build hiking trails. After doing this for almost two years, I was starting to lose hope to find a job in the line of work I desired. Then, at a nonprofit event, I met someone who was serving her first RARE year in The Gorge: Lauren Kolojechick-Kotch. After talking to her for a little bit about the RARE program, she peaked my interest. Later that evening, I did more research on the RARE program and knew I had to apply to the program.

Then, a couple months later, I received the call for being accepted into the program and was thrilled! After a couple of weeks of interviews and waiting, I finally found out that I would be working for the City of Talent as their Energy Efficiency Coordinator. I would finally be able to work in the energy sector!

Since I started this program, I have been able to say I thoroughly enjoy my job and placement. This RARE program has allowed me to change career paths to the path I want to have my career in. I spend my days doing multiple different things: research, data analysis, community development, renewable energy development and energy education. With this array of task, I never get bored and always have something interesting to work on!

This program also allowed me to meet some awesome people. Firstly, I will start with the University of Oregon staff: Aniko, Titus and Julie. They are all awesome people who absolutely love what they do. Aniko and Titus have both gone through the RARE program and know what you are going through. Both are always there to help you out professionally or personally. Secondly, the next awesome people I got to meet were people in my cohort. This group of people came from all over the United States. Each of them brings a vast amount of different experiences and knowledge to share with everyone. To be in the program for only a few months and know that some of these people will be life-long friends is truly amazing. Lastly, this program has allowed me to meet multiple different people from various organizations which I could see myself working for in the future. Making these professional connections are invaluable.

In short, I would like to thank Lauren for telling me about this program and University of Oregon staff for letting me into the program. I will be indebted to you for everything you have given me.

About the Author, Michael Hoch: Michael completed his undergraduate studies in Economics at the University of Oregon and his graduate studies in Economics with Reference to Environment and Development from SOAS, University of London. He loves spending time in the outdoors backpacking, hiking, kayaking and fishing. Michael is also active with non-profits and volunteer efforts around the state and is ready to bring his skills to RARE.

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: