Rollercoaster of Service by Rylie Yaeger

October 11, 2022

This service year has had its ups and downs, but resulted in unexpected victories.

When I first began my term, my supervisor told me, “You will have ups and downs during service. It is normal and everyone goes through it.” As a former AmeriCorps member, she really knew what doing a service year means mentally. Her words have stuck with me for the almost 11 months I have been serving. I went through one of the worst things that life doesn’t quite prepare you for during service. My aunt, my mother figure, passed away and I had to use the emergency leave that when you start service you think, “Oh, I’ll never have to use that.”

Unfortunately, I had to request emergency leave. On top of reconciling not being able to talk to someone I spoke to or saw every day, bad things come in threes. My cousin, my aunt, and my grandmother all passed away within the span of six months. This year has been an odd year to say the least, and it wasn’t what I expected when thinking of service having ups and downs. I’m a very work-oriented person, and this year made me grow exponentially personally.

My main goal accepting this position and starting service was to create a climate adaptation and green energy plan for the county. As time passed, I realized my timeline and my boss’ timeline didn’t match. Around July, I found out we were going to create a steering committee that would be doing the work that I had been brought on to do and steer the path towards a physical plan. I had to come to terms with what I feasibly could do with the time I had left. As someone who pushed themselves academically, I did a dual degree masters writing two thesis projects in the span of two years, I really had to learn how to realize my limits and let things out of my control not affect me as much.

They don’t tell you at the beginning, but your supervisor writes a summary of your work at the end of the year. I found it very cathartic reading what, from her perspective, I was able to accomplish. I was able to integrate myself in the community. After my aunt passed, I joined a yoga studio that many Butte locals go to that has been my lifeline. If you’re coming to Butte, I would highly recommend Rooted Tribe Hot Yoga Studio. The people there really display the heart of Butte. I was able to understand the nuanced issues that Butte faces being a historically mining town. Every meeting, I would leave with a new fun fact I could tell the next person I met. Did you know that they used to install pipes under the sidewalks to melt the ice for the upwards of 120,000 residents in the early 1900s?

If this year has taught me anything, it is to ask for help when you are down. I wouldn’t have been able to continue service had staff from MTCC and my site supervisor not been so understanding when my aunt passed. They went above and beyond helping me get everything together to go home to be with family. I would not have stayed sane in this project had my supervisor not been somewhat of a therapist when I had to talk to her about changes in my service project. Every week, we had an update meeting about my project. That time was invaluable to me, and she really helped me when I felt my project had the rug pulled out from underneath it.

The people I met were the best thing about my service year. I’m going to miss Butte, and I am going to miss the connections I was able to make.

AmeriCorps member Rylie Yaeger
Rylie is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)