The Roundup -

Be The Buffalo, Serve With AmeriCorps

 

September 28, 2022 | View PDF

AmeriCorps alumni, from left, Angelina Swick, Gretta Warne, Allie Shepler, Marissa Freitas, and Amelia Meier. (Photo submitted by Stephanie Reynolds)

When a storm is approaching, cows and buffalo have two very different responses. Cows will attempt to outrun the storm, thus prolonging their suffering as they often run with the storm. Buffalo, however, turn and face the storm. They instinctively know that charging directly into the storm will get them out of the inclement weather quicker.

Montana residents have faced many storms and challenges over the last few years. Many residents have chosen to face these challenges head on attempting to alleviate the suffering others have faced due to these challenges. AmeriCorps service members are just one of the many examples of these service-minded citizens.

AmeriCorps is a federal program uniting America through service. Members are recruited from a national pool to leave their home for up to year to serve an under-served community. Montana Public Health Corps, sponsored by the Richland County Health Department, is one of those programs bringing in members to serve rural, frontier, and tribal health communities that have long been faced with a lack of mental and public health resources. It has been so successful in Richland County that the program has extended its services across Eastern Montana counties, including Dawson, Sheridan, Daniels, Valley, Yellowstone, Carbon, and Fort Peck Tribal Health.

Eastern Montana is an amazing place to explore, and we strongly encourage a healthy work/life balance. Members are given time to tour the beautiful states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota and our many parks, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks and Makoshika, and Medicine Rocks State Parks, among others. To see what our members have been up to, please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/MontanaPublicHealthAmeriCorps, or on Instagram at mphamericorps.

The external challenges of COVID, loss of loved ones, drought, flood, and rising economic costs have led to higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and other varying degrees of mental and behavioral health challenges. The outside support of AmeriCorps members has made a tremendous impact on the distribution of wellness resource cards, mental health focus groups, and making unique connections with the youth. Members can pursue their own individual passions if their interests support the needs of the program. One member had a strong interest in drama and was able to facilitate an improv program with youth at the local Boys and Girls Club. Members in Scobey were able to develop and implement personal wellness and Girls with Confidence lessons in youth classes. A member in Richland County hosted an Earth Day event and was able to plant trees in a local park with the help of a Girl Scouts troop. The positive impact of these projects has been felt by the community, but there is still so much more to do.

And you could be the very solution we are looking for. The input and experience of members from across the country are invaluable, but no one knows their community better than those who live in it. Rather than trying to run from the problems in our communities, turn and face those challenges. Offer your unique insight and suggestions to help the community that has helped you. Speak up and speak out to help those who are suffering. Be the buffalo.

If you are interested in finding out more about these opportunities, you can reach out to Stephanie Reynolds at 406-433-2207, or send an email to [email protected]

 

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