AmeriCorps member reflects on her year of service

Written by on July 10, 2017 in Local and National News, Seattle Housing Authority - Comments Off

By Priyanka Choudhury

Special to The Voice

As an AmeriCorps member serving at Full Life Care − Solstice Behavioral Health, I have learned so much about myself and my community. My undergraduate education focused on social justice and community engagement, which ultimately led me to pursue a year of service in the AmeriCorps program.

As the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) Health and Wellness Outreach Specialist, I’ve helped coordinate a variety of community services for adults, many of whom live with chronic or terminal illnesses and disabilities. I’ve also worked with residents living in SHA high-rises.

I have been fortunate to be a part of a team that coordinated and hosted weekly coffee hour events at four SHA sites: Cal-Mor Circle, Jefferson Terrace, Center Park and Ross Manor. The purpose of these events is to help foster a sense of community over coffee and conversation. One of the greatest assets about AmeriCorps is that every member has something unique to offer the community.

During coffee hour we also offered different art and wellness activities. One of our members, Julia, is skilled in teaching mindfulness meditation and led short meditations at some of the buildings we served.

AmeriCorps member Priyanka Choudhury chats with Center Park resident and STAR Center user Chastity Landy, one of the many residents who use the computer lab for its accessibility.

AmeriCorps member Priyanka Choudhury chats with Center Park resident and STAR Center user Chastity Landy, one of the many residents who use the computer lab for its accessibility.

As AmeriCorps service members working at Full Life Care, we are also trained in Tai-Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance, and another team member, Kat, led classes every week at several properties.

We have also led games and thrown parties. One of our most popular activities involved making lip balm using beeswax, coconut oil and essential oils. Our most recent activity was planting mini succulents to bring the healing powers of gardening into residents’ homes.

Throughout the year, these weekly events have grown in support and attendance, showing that residents are interested in mingling with each other and learning new skills—they just need some encouragement and we are proud to provide that.

My service at various SHA buildings throughout Seattle has not only allowed me to understand a side of Seattle in the high rises that I was never previously exposed to, but also taught me compassion and awareness for individuals living with disabilities.

Another facet of my role kept me engaged with the STAR (Special Technology Access Resource) Center. This is a public computer lab that offers technology for individuals with a range of physical or visual disabilities.

Not only have I been able to grow and learn from interactions with the regular users of this lab, but I have also been fortunate enough to sit in on monthly meetings that discuss the lab’s future. This helped me understand how to maintain and run a resource center such as STAR Center.
After my year of service is completed in mid-July, I hope to eventually pursue a master’s degree in Health Administration.

My position in the program was new this year, forcing me to take initiative and carve out my own experience. This was such a privilege because I got to lead projects and in some ways, manage myself, which will be helpful skills to call upon in the future.

And, when I reach my dream of becoming a hospital director, you can be sure that my hospital will definitely be ADA friendly!

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