Amanda McVann is a perfect example of the adage that no one comes to where they land by a straight path. Now living in Creston and serving as a RISE AmeriCorps communications coordinator and data impact specialist, she is a long way from her native New York, having made a substantial stop in Dallas along the way. But, although her geographic path wandered a bit, the trajectory of her life’s guiding passion looks as targeted as if it were fired from a gun.
It’s all about connections and finding home, you see. For Amanda, that started early. “We moved around a lot when I was a child,” she says, and she spent a lot of time “trying to build lasting friendships.” Then, after she graduated from college and moved to Dallas, away from everyone she knew, she learned a new level of feeling alone, of being cut off and disconnected. After only a short time there RISE AmeriCorps found her, and she moved again – this time to Iowa – and she had to start all over one more time.
“Think about what you need when you wake up.
You have to wash, to dress, to eat a meal. You need a job to go to.”
That’s what Livvy Su, RISE AmeriCorps Program Manager, the AmeriCorps program founded by EMBARC, suggests you imagine when she tries to describe what she and others like her do every day. It’s not an aimless exercise. It’s an example of what their clients need. In short, they need everything.
“We serve refugees and immigrant populations,” she says. “We all have so many needs we don’t even think about.”
On the very first day refugees arrive at the airport, they need someone to pick them up.
They need a place to stay until they can get housing.
They need food and a bed.
They need insurance.
If they have kids, they need school registration and bus orientation.
Their kids might need a translator in school.
Parents need to learn how their kids are doing in school when they can’t speak English.
They need safety training because all the symbols here are different.
They need self sufficiency.
They need a job.
They need to know how to apply and how to interview.
They need education
They need English and computer skills.
They need afterschool programs.
They need counseling and coaching.
They need mentors.