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.
My 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.
RARE 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!
About 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