Eddie Grondin of Phippsburg, ME became a Field Team member with the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) in the summer of 2015, and returned this summer to complete his second term of service. His journey up until he became an AmeriCorps member with MCC was not an easy one, and Eddie was kind enough to share his story with us.
High school was a very rough time for Eddie. He did really well in school, but he made his friends his priority. He was struggling with his parents’ divorce, which is one of the reasons he was spending so much time with his friends. After high school, Eddie lost focus on his future. “I didn’t make any plans for after high school, I just started working at a grocery store. I knew I wasn’t really doing anything with my life and I didn’t like it. I was going down an obviously bad path, but I never really realized it. I didn’t seek help, and it was all my fault.”
Eddie’s tough times and series of poor decisions came to a head on November 6,, 2014 at 7:30pm, when he lost control of his car, and the crash resulted in the loss of Eddie’s left arm. When he woke up in the hospital and realized he lost his arm, his initial thought was “what have I done?” But Eddie said “it was weird because I felt a calming sensation in the hospital. I realized I got a second chance, and it really woke me up.”
“I wanted to do better, and told myself that everything that happened before this point is history and I now really wanted to do good things with my life. I don’t want my life to be about how I used to make bad decisions. I did sit at home for a few months, but I was always thinking about what I am going to do and that I had to do something. The first thing that came to my mind was volunteering. After the accident, so much of the community came together to help me out, and got me back on my feet. I wanted to return the favor.”
“I searched the internet for volunteer opportunities, and somehow wound up on the maine.gov site and found MCC.” Eddie called the MCC office and learned about the trail work the program entails. “I thought it might be really challenging since I had just lost my arm. I was still trying to learn how to do everything else with one arm. But I liked the program and I wanted to give it a shot.”
Eddie accepted a position on the MCC Field Team, and it didn’t take long for Eddie to realize joining MCC was the right choice. “Between orientation and the first hitch, I knew it was the best decision I ever made in my entire life.” When asked if he had any fears coming into MCC Eddie stated “I didn’t have any fears, I was just worried I would be judged for only having one arm. I wondered how everyone else felt about me trying to do this.” Eddie came into the experience with a great attitude and a lot of confidence.
“MCC gave me a type of life I never had before and it is a type of life I enjoy. There is nothing better than going out into the woods, work on trails, and camp out, wake up and do it all over again. It is hard to get used to, and a bit of a culture shock. There is no phone service, or bathrooms, no stores. But it is simple and satisfying. “
Eddie really enjoyed being a part of a team. “I find it more like being a part of a family. You are spending more time with your team members, than your actual family. They are people I look forward to seeing.” Eddie said his team would describe him as respectful, friendly, and a team player. He was also always willing to talk to the hikers the team encountered throughout the season!
“Before the accident I always thought that life was so hard, and after MCC I learned that life can be simple. Some days when we were back at camp, and I would think about that one big rock that we couldn’t move. And then I realize that if all I am worrying about is not being able to move a rock…I’m doing pretty good.”
When looking towards the future, Eddie states “I want to change the world for the better. I look at all the negative stuff that goes on in the world, and I don’t think the world needs to live in this much negativity. I want to be the person that brings more positivity in the world.” Eddie remembers his favorite teacher from high school Ms. Madden who really got him hooked on writing, and was a great mentor. “She is one of those teachers that set high standards for her students, and really made you feel you could do something special with your life.”
Eddie shared some advice he would give to others who have experienced a similar loss. “It might feel like a setback, and it is going to be challenging, but just know that you will overcome those challenges, and you will end up impressing yourself more than you impress others. The accident gave me a lot of energy. I was surrounded by a lot of positive people. I was going to prove that I can do even better with one arm.”
We are thrilled that Eddie is a part of the MCC team! Thank you for your service, Eddie!