Written by Marilynn Honeycutt, an AmeriCorps member who is serving a second term as a member of our Community Partnerships Team.
Make a Difference Day this year looked a little different than what I’d expected it to be. Usually, it’s a day when the whole College Possible Oregon team and our high school students comes together to really make a difference in our community and volunteer. This year we were down to the wire, trying to figure out what we were doing with student involvement. All of our partnering high schools’ COVID protocols were different, transportation was not happening, and I was feeling quite defeated.
Last year, when I decided to return to College Possible for a second term of AmeriCorps service, I came back in hopes of realizing my Community Partnerships Team (CPT) role to its full potential. I wanted to plan in-person events, organize the ACT practice exams in high schools, and staff a recruiting table, and while I have been able to do some of these things, this year is still not back to that “normal” state we used to be in. But that’s okay. I now realize how much flexibility we need coming into events like Make a Difference Day. So, when we made the decision to hold the event in our office and hold off on student involvement, I came to terms with it and knew it was for the best.
The day of the event was madness for me. I arrived early the day before and stayed late with my team to set up. I did the same on the day of the event. This year, though, it was just staff. We partnered with Intel to assemble goodie bags with items like candy, socks and sanitizer to be given to different nonprofits that support all kinds of people in our area.
We set up an assembly system so that half of our staff would come in the morning and the other in the afternoon, to allow for social distancing. The event went smoothly. We had the right amount of supplies, everyone had a great time, and we even finished early — both shifts! When it came time to clean up, everyone pitched in and helped clean up materials, put the desks back together, and sanitized everything. The oversight on my part, however, was failing to plan where all the leftover materials and snacks would go. So, when someone asked, “Hey, Marilynn, where do you want…” for lack of a better answer I said, “Just put it on my desk, thanks!” By the end of the day, my desk looked like a tornado had run through my four feet of space in our 100-year-old office.
As the day ended and people left, I took a deep breath to take it all in. I started attacking the little piles first by shoving papers into my file cabinet and moving the leftover snacks into the kitchen, and as the piles grew smaller, the little notes of gratitude from my team grew bigger. I found not just thank you cards, but also handwritten cards with stickers of space aliens, telling me what a great day they’d had and thanking me for all my hard work. I saved those notes from that day to remind me that even with all the changes this year has brought, this experience is still so special.
Thank you to our friends at Intel for their partnership and support with this project!