Katherine Ichinose, a Junior at St. Olaf, had been looking for a way to help her community during the onset of COVID-19. Her plans for the summer had been nullified due to the pandemic, and community support became her paramount objective. This is when she found AmeriCorps Emergency Response Initiative (ERI). ERI was launched last summer in an effort to provide needed support to nonprofits, community, and government organizations to keep their vital resources available to the community. For Katherine, ERI was the perfect opportunity to support her community.
Katherine served with Hennepin County, helping to provide resources to unhoused individuals who were at high risk for COVID-19. “A lot of my work was operations work … responding to residents needs that would arise, whether that was mental health needs, or helping them find employment, or navigating the healthcare system.”
Katherine’s service with ERI fostered her own sense of belonging. As she puts it, “It has made me feel much more connected to my community.” Through service, she also grew professionally. “Professionally, it made me appreciate how complicated a lot of systems are to navigate…” she explains. “I learned to navigate that, and how to work a problem through all the different obstacles and steps that crop up.”
When asked what she would say to anyone considering joining ERI, she responded, “I think it’s a really meaningful experience.” She urges anyone considering service this summer to focus on having a commitment to empathy, compassion and doing anything you can to help people meet their needs.