That’s Right, I’m From Kansas
One of my favorite things to do when I go skiing is to make it widely known that I am originally from Kansas. This almost universally elicits the same reaction by all who are willing to listen: you begin to see this glimmer in their eye as it clicks that they are giving this girl in her mid-twenties, who is from an area that is literally flatter than a pancake a totally new and broadening experience not only into this particular realm of sports, but into an entirely new set of topography. And, their reactions, in my case, are justifiably warranted. Each time I see a mountain it is as though it’s the first time; the excitement, even after a year has yet to dissipate.
This principle is very much so comparable to my time spent working in Eastern Oregon, namely, Milton-Freewater. I have never ceased to be amazed by the dedication of these people to the place they call home. Growing up in a suburb of Kansas City, this deep sense of identity and unique culture just didn’t seem to be a focus. Here, however, these are the things that community members are willing to put in hours of their time and sums of money to achieve. The more time I spend with such people, the more I begin to catch this “bug” and the more I want to be a part of the growth of a community working together to become the ideal place to live in and visit. Without the opportunity to be placed in Milton-Freewater through the RARE AmeriCorps Program – Resource Assistance for Rural Environments, the spectrum of opportunities for community development would be much like the mountains prior to my moving to Oregon; something you can read about in books, but is life-altering in reality.
About the Author: Alina Launchbaugh received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies/Theology from Manhattan Christian College. After graduating from college, Alina lived and worked in Nyeri, Kenya as a Youth Enterprise Volunteer. Following Alina’s second year with the RARE AmeriCorps Program, she plans to attend law school.
Alina is placed with Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance, where she works as the organization’s Main Street Program Manager. Specifically, Alina is conducting research needed to identify available commercial space in the business district. She is also taking the lead on moving forward the city’s newly developed Main Street Program via an array of advocacy and outreach efforts.