Americorps Alaska Team finishes a term in Homer

Triple C’s started Alaska service last October

A group of five women serving in the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps — or “Triple C’s” — worked in Homer this summer as part of their Alaska tour that started last year. They complete their term on July 8.

“We started in in Sacramento in October and we all applied to be on the Alaska team,” said Elizabeth Horan. “Usually, Triple C teams just travel around within a regional area of the country.”

The Triple C’s are designated for people age 18 to 26 years old and there are four regions in the country. Alaska is included in the Pacific Region. There are a few specialty teams, including a forest management team and the Alaska team, where they do not leave the state. The 2022-23 season is the second year Americorps has run an Alaska specialty team.

Makaela Lesniewski is team leader for this group and other women in the group applied to the team. Lesniewski chose the additional members of the team: Elizabeth Horan, Miranda Glenn, Kay Gardner and Lizbeth Sherlock.

The group started their term in Fairbanks and were there for several months.

“In Fairbanks, we worked at the food bank, a youth shelter, a soup kitchen,” Glenn said. “We also worked with the Tanana Chief’s Conference to deliver salmon to elders. We worked with the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District and Santa’s Helpers with the North Star Community Foundation.”

They had a few weeks off for the holidays and then starting in January spent three months in Anchorage working for Habitat for Humanity and Fur Rondy.

“We went to Chugiak to work with the Girl Scouts of Alaska at their day camp and at an overnight camp in Wasilla and then we came to Homer,” Glenn said.

In Homer, the women have been working mostly with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.

“A couple days after we got here we went to Augustine Island in Cook Inlet to do a trash clean up,” Horan said. “It was about a seven hour ride over there. We got to camp on the island and pick up debris.”

“After we brought all the garbage back we sorted, counted and weighed it. It was 1.7 tons,” Horan said.

The women talked about how debris is carried in ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean and why there is so much international debris on outside beaches of the Gulf .

“It was pretty crazy to see how much trash was on the beach. There was no way we could take any more. We kind of just had to leave,” Horan said. “There were a lot of buoys that were kind of cool to see, like Chinese and Korean buoys. A lot of plastic water bottles from all over the place. Kaela found one glass ball that she kept,” Horan said.

“Since then we’ve been building a nature-themed play ground at the Wynn Nature Center,” Horan said. “We did a little improvement of the natural play space at the Daisy Lee Bitter cabin that’s on the way. Most recently we’ve been doing hawkweed removal — it’s been a little bid tedious.”

When they leave Alaska, the group will meet back at the Sacramento campus with all the other teams where there is a graduation ceremony for completion of the program.

“The Alaska team is the only group that stays away from the campus for the full tenure. The other teams go back to the campus between their events,” Horan said.

After graduation, they head home and out on new paths. Horan will go to college and Glenn will head home for a few months and then return to Alaska for a position in Fairbanks. The other women don’t have definite plans yet.

“In addition to our group service, we have to do individual service projects, too,” Glenn said. “There was a sled-dog rescue operation that I worked with a couple times, Sirius Sled Dog Rescue. I’m really passionate about working with dogs. I loved working there. I reached out to the woman who runs the shelter and I asked her about doing a dog mushing apprenticeship up there and she said yes. I’ll be doing that from October until next March.”

Glenn said Fairbanks was her favorite out of all the places they worked. The rest confirmed Homer was their favorite location.

“We all really liked Homer,” Horan said. “It has really good vibes, it’s really beautiful. We loved the beaches. It’s been a little depressing to see so much snow this spring. It’s nice to get some sun back.”

“For Kay and I, I think we really liked going to Augustine Island the most,” Lizbeth said.