Team AmeriCorps: Why I Serve by Nitzan Barlev

Nitzan Barlev

National AmeriCorps Week is March 10-16, 2019. This week, Full Life Care features our serving members and their amazing contributions to the community. Full Life hosts AmeriCorps members each year, from September through July. Recruitment for the upcoming program year starts in May. For details, visit our AmeriCorps page or email us.

Nitzan Barlev

Nitzan BarlevHometown: Born in Israel, grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada

College: University of Nevada, Anthropology

AmeriCorps Placement: Community Engagement Specialist at Sound Generations, Volunteer Transportation

I’m supporting a new volunteer transportation program that allows older adults from lesser-served communities to live independently. I conduct outreach in diverse residential buildings, community centers and senior centers to sign up drivers and clients. The program reimburses drivers for the miles they take, making it easier for drivers to go out with senior community members to run errands, attend social and religious events, and go to medical and other appointments. Most transportation options are limited. They either only do medical trips during business hours, or if they do non-medical rides, they’re confined geographically. This program allows older adults in Seattle to essentially go anywhere, anytime as long as their driver is willing. It’s a wonderful tool to meet the various needs of these communities.

I joined AmeriCorps because we owe so much to our elders, and we should continue to honor them and the value they provide in enriching our world. Our parents and grandparents contain a wealth of knowledge and experience, and it would be a shame to not treat them with the respect they so deserve. I want to give back and connect with this generation, and this position provided that opportunity.

Our Full Life Care AmeriCorps team program manager, Cassie, has provided us with so much support and knowledge about getting the most out of AmeriCorps service. This service can be taxing, but having Cassie and the rest of my amazing cohort has made it more than worth it. I love my team, and know I will stay friends with them in years to come.

One of my favorite memories with clients happened during an outreach to talk about the volunteer transportation program at a nearby senior center. Many people come to my informational talks not really understanding what the program is or go on behalf of someone else. At this event, there was a couple and a single woman. Before this event they had never spoken. The woman wanted a driver. The couple came on behalf of a friend in another town. After almost 20 minutes of talking through the program, I asked the couple if either of them were interested in signing up for the program themselves since their friend was not eligible; that’s when they all had a lightbulb moment! The man realized he drives all the time! He and his partner started talking with the woman. Turns out, they’re practically neighbors! On the spot, I signed them up and did a driver orientation. That same week, the man started driving her to social events and critical doctor’s appointments. It was amazing to see the program in action of course, but to also see people transform from frustration to empowerment.