Alicia Munchel, Brookville, was one of 479 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members who graduated July 26 after completing over half a million hours of service and over 275 projects, including 78 disaster recovery ones.
The 24-year-old reported by e-mail Aug. 23, “In college I was involved in a national service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and did a lot of community service. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my career after college, but I knew service was important to me, so I started looking into short-term service programs. AmeriCorps NCCC gave me the opportunity to serve others while seeing a lot of different places. It was a good fit for me.”
She was assigned to NCCC’s Southwest Region Campus in Denver and arrived Oct. 9, 2012, to begin her 10 months of service. “I was in Denver for one month of training, as well as between projects.”
The daughter of Jerry and Kim Munchel was part of a team of nine other members who completed a series of projects, typically lasting six to eight weeks each. She recalls, “My most meaningful project was four weeks spent in the small town of Howe, Okla. There, my team restored a drainage ditch that had been constructed during the Great Depression ... It was originally built to help prevent malaria, but now it is the only drainage channel to move water away from the town. The people of Howe were so appreciative of our work and went out of their way to support us and show us their gratitude. I really felt like we were helping them.”
Scenes from one project in Colorado Springs, Colo., will stay with the Franklin County High School graduate. “My team was some of the first people to respond to the Black Forest fire. We were on scene within an hour of when it started, fighting it right at the flame front. That first day we dug fire line for about seven hours straight. Digging line means clearing a line of vegetation 12-18 inches wide to create a break in the fuels that the fire requires. When the fire reaches the line, there is nothing for it to burn, which in theory will stop it. You also have to account for aerial fuels and chainsaw down trees to make sure the fire won’t get into the treetops and cross the line there.