In lieu of starting college via remote learning, Los Altos High School graduate Bryce Capuano has spent his gap year participating in service projects as a member of AmeriCorps, a government-supported service organization that works with nonprofit organizations.
Capuano applied in May 2020 and flew to Colorado in November for two weeks of training that consisted of team-building exercises. After that, members were split into groups of 8-12 to collaborate with one another to complete their projects. Each round, teams work on a project from one to three months.
“Our first round (my team was) at a science educational ranch in rural Arizona,” Capuano said. “It was a little bit rundown, and we were basically doing infrastructure repair.”
During Capuano’s second round, members of his team alternated each week by working with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing and volunteering at a local food pantry in Columbia, Mo.
“The most impactful things I learned just by talking to people who are coming through (the food pantry),” he said. “A lot of families look like they’re perfectly financially stable on the outside and are struggling to make ends meet. I think just hearing stories about the people who have lost their jobs has really put things into perspective for me and how lucky I am.”
Capuano and his team are currently helping with vaccine distribution by managing lines and assisting others with appointment registration in Brooklyn for their final round.
Capuano, who has lived in Los Altos since age 5, said he was initially interested in working with AmeriCorps to pursue his interest in traveling while also making a difference in the world.
“(By) meeting and living with other people who grew up in such vastly different areas than you, I think you learn about how you grew up, and how diverse this country is in every way,” he said.
Capuano is scheduled to graduate from AmeriCorps July 29 and plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall.
For more information on AmeriCorps, visit americorps.gov.