Team AmeriCorps: Why I Serve by Sam Parker

Sam Parker

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.

Sam Parker

Sam ParkerHometown: Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

College: Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota), Religion & Media Studies

AmeriCorps Placement: Aging in Place Specialist, Seattle Housing Authority

In my position at Seattle Housing Authority as the aging-in-place specialist, I engage residents in community activities at 22 senior buildings. As a part of an Aging-in-Place Initiative, I coordinate with residents on a range of activities, from CPR trainings to watercolor classes. One of my unique goals this year is to bring senior legal clinics to the majority of the senior buildings. I’m also currently setting up mindfulness classes, which I will lead in three of the buildings this spring. Overall, I hope to create programs that are impactful and engaging for residents.

I decided to join AmeriCorps serving older adults and adults with disabilities in the community because I hope to pursue a career serving seniors, and I wanted to learn firsthand about the unique needs of this population. This fall, I plan to attend law school, and my future goal is to practice elder law. This is a large field focused on senior citizens, and I hope to help seniors navigate their unique legal issues, like writing wills and combating guardianship abuse. This AmeriCorps service is exposing me for the first time to work exclusively serving seniors.

I like being a part of the Full Life Care AmeriCorps team because I believe in our collective mission and feel supported by my fellow team members. We have been provided with a range of useful workshops and clinics. I feel more prepared to work with clients who need assistance, especially with mental health issues. I also feel like I have a whole team of friends that I can reach out to who will support my goals and help me overcome any obstacles with my service.

One of my favorite memories so far of engaging with clients is when I was leading a computer class at one of the senior buildings. A very nice resident arrived without a device and admitted to us quite proudly that she considered herself a “Luddite” when it came to technology. However, she still wanted to be a part of the class! She listened while other people asked questions and when it was her turn, she asked—with genuine curiosity—questions like “What is the world wide web?” The simplicity of her questions actually caught us all off guard, and I think made us all reflect on what we take for granted about technology. She enjoyed her time at the class and brought a lighthearted curiosity to the discussion. I really appreciated her questions and it will make me appreciate more the wonders of technology.

The favorite part of my service experience is hearing the stories from the senior residents. The seniors living at Seattle Housing Authority are an incredible group of people! Over the course of only a few months, I’ve met writers, artists, managers, meditators, entrepreneurs, travelers, volunteers, hikers, and many other talented and interesting individuals. They have so much built-up experience and memory. By far my favorite part of my service is having the time to sit down and just hear some of their remarkable stories. I will cherish these many lessons that I’ve learned from them.

I’ve been amazed at the connections that Full Life has with the Seattle community. Whenever I mention the name, many residents already have good connotations. I’m happy to support an organization that is making strides in a variety of realms helping seniors.