Tag: University of Oregon

Sunday – The Most Fun Day of the Week

By Brian Saunders, Outreach Coordinator, Travel Lane County/Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative

When someone hears the word Sunday, there are a number of things that might go through that person’s mind. Some think football, others may think a day of relaxation. For me, I now think of my Sundays as my ‘Fun-Days.”

It all started on a cloudy Sunday morning around 7:30 am. It was a typical morning- I yawned, I stretched, showered, made breakfast, and read two chapters of an exciting book I was reading at the time. Now, on a normal Sunday, a hike or jump back into bed might be the way to go after spending a week in the office. However, this Sunday was going to be different. I had a planned event on a Sunday. Not a Friday or a Saturday, but Sunday…at 2pm.

Group of people gathered in a circleMy day was already a little thrown off, but I just rolled with the punches. Afterall, I was tabling a National Geographic Event in downtown Eugene, Oregon where I just moved cross country about 5 weeks prior. To me, it really did not get much cooler than that. Setting up for the event was awesome; I met new people, interacted with some amazing environmental organizations, and got to keep busy on what would otherwise be just another lazy Sunday.

Truthfully, while I was setting up my table, I thought, “Wow, a cup of tea and a movie would really be a great way to prepare for a busy week tomorrow.” Then it hit me. I was already preparing for my busy week by staying active in my community and being present when I needed to be. It’s bizarre how it hit me right there on the spot, but from that moment on, there has been a new drive instilled in me. Sometimes I like to think it was just a random moment in time in this 23-year-old life of mine, but when I think deep down, I know it comes down to the RARE program and them placing me where I needed to be. Working for the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative (ODRC) has not only provided me with meaningful work that I am extremely passionate about, but it has also allowed me to explore some of the most beautiful sand dunes on this planet. Most importantly, the RARE program and the ODRC has taught me to slow down and to appreciate what is in front of me. There are many things I am appreciative for in life, but I will forever be grateful for RARE which has provided me with an awesome opportunity to grow, learn, and evolve as a young man. This opportunity has already sprouted growth in my personal and professional career, and I am excited to see where that takes me beyond this term of service.

Author wearing a life vest, sitting on a raftRARE has moved me across the country to my favorite state, connected me with amazing people, provided me with unconditional support, and instilled a new drive in me that is incredibly refreshing. Being surrounded by all the amazing people in my community and in the RARE program has broadened my perspective and left me feeling more inspired than ever. Seeing the success stories of everyone else really keeps me going forward. Now when I wake up tired on a Sunday, going back to bed is usually never an option. I need my real Sunday Fun-Days and those days include driving to the coast early morning, pulling Scotch Broom with some great company, going on a hike, or just exploring the beautiful state of Oregon. RARE made me realize how lucky I am to be where I am, doing what I do. Sometimes just being with the right people at the right time can really spark a change. Although I was (and still am) a motivated, fresh college graduate, ready to take on the world, something about pushing myself and sacrificing my normal wind down time for community engagement made me realize how great life can be sometimes.

Well, it is now Friday afternoon and before I know it, Sunday morning will arrive. Who knows what the agenda will be like for this Sunday, all I know is that thanks to RARE, the most boring day of the week turned into a day I can look forward to!

Photo of the authorAbout the author, Brian Saunders: Brian grew up in a small town of 6,000 people in Connecticut. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Geography in the Spring of 2019, Brian was eager to come back to Oregon where he has been visiting for the past 6-7 years. During his senior year of college, Brian worked as an intern for a local non-profit food security organization. Brian loves to spend his time playing soccer, snowboarding, and biking.

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 

The Big Difference Between Want and Need

By Ryan Pernell, Outreach Coordinator, A Greater Applegate

If you’re like me, you may be a person who feels uncomfortable when forced to question what you think you know, especially when it comes to matters of the self. When applying for a position in RARE I knew that the job would come with a certain level of discomfort. Moving away from family and friends, adapting to rural living, using the skills learned in college in a real world setting for the first time, all very, shall we say, uncomfy things. I did not, however, expect this experience to transform what I thought I wanted in life into what I now know I needed, and realizing the comfort that comes along with this shift.

Group of happy people posed in front of the new building for A Greater Applegate
Photo courtesy of A Greater Applegate

Upon applying for RARE I had it in my mind that the best and easiest way for me to have a fulfilling career that would pay well and keep me occupied until retirement was to aim for a job in local government. So when asked to rank the organizations that I had interviewed with in order of most to least interested in I placed A Greater Applegate, the nonprofit that I was eventually placed with, as 4 out of 5, despite having a great interview with the folks that worked there. I did this purely on the basis that they were not a governmental organization while all the others I had interviewed with were. So you could imagine my upset when I was told that I was being placed with my second to last choice. But I was committed to doing whatever job I was offered and I am so grateful I did because my life is all the much better for it.

Within the first few weeks on the job I began to get the sense that I had been placed right where I needed to be. I was surrounded by hardworking people who were proud of their work and happy to be doing it, despite the many challenges a small, rural-based nonprofit faces. I saw that interactions with the community were more positive and trusting than experiences I had had in the past working under a government entity. But most importantly I began to see the difference between wants and needs within a community setting and the role nonprofit organizations play in realizing both.

Every community has needs, this will always be true. Generally, it is the job of the local government to provide these needs. The Applegate Valley, where I live and work, has nearly 20,000 residents and is entirely unincorporated. Because of this I came into the position with the belief that A Greater Applegate would be serving as a quasi-governmental organization that aimed to meet needs within the Valley, which we do to a certain extent. Yet I was surprised to find out through various engagements with community groups is that A Greater Applegate is primarily an organization that helps procure community wants. And as it turns out, satisfying wants is a very close second to securing needs when it comes to “community building”.

Three people engaged in conversation about the wants of the community. There is a board with notes on it in the background.
Photo courtesy of A Greater Applegate

Upon making this realization I found that not only was I exactly where I needed to be, this was truly where I wanted to be as well. Rural living is simple and the people here like it that way. Fortunately this is a place where the basic needs—water, food and shelter—are generally met. So the work I have been able to engage with has been community driven passion projects. What we heard is the community wants a local branding campaign to proudly identify products that are uniquely Applegate, people want community convening centers where social connections can be fostered or local businesses can operate, and people want to protect the sanctity of the Valley that they have cherished for generations. As a nonprofit community building organization we here at A Greater Applegate get the pleasure of helping people make the community what they want it to be.

It has been exciting and humbling to have the opportunity to do this work. I didn’t know when I started this journey that what I needed was to have the ability to help a community achieve what they want. Working in the nonprofit sector has allowed me to be able to help a community move from one that merely exists to one that is self-inspired and thriving. My new intention for life after RARE is to get a graduate degree in nonprofit administration and to continue to do work that speaks to my heart. RARE did not provide me with what I wanted but it certainly gave me the direction I needed!

Photo of the authorAbout the author, Ryan Pernell: Ryan graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development and a Minor in Disaster Risk Reduction. Ryan enjoys the intersection between community development, health and safety, and environmental sustainability. Ryan looks forward to bringing her experience working in rural communities to the nonprofit sector and engaging with individuals who care deeply about the place they live.

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