For two years, I have served as an AmeriCorps member. I have built trails in Missouri, taught Kindergarten and cleaned up a camp in Arizona, assisted in revitalizing a neighborhood in Texas, and most recently helped to provide strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter in Florida. Today I end my career as an AmeriCorps member.
Before I joined AmeriCorps, I was blind to the issues we face in this country. It did not affect me personally, so I paid it no mind. That all changed when I decided to minor in Non-Profit Management and eventually joined AmeriCorps. For the first time, I was immersed the issues that many of our fellow citizens face and at times, it felt like I was in another country.
The issue that stood out to me the most was poverty. The vicious cycle of poverty has an impact on so many things, from education to health, housing to child development. From what I could tell, there didn’t seem to be one root cause and there certainly didn’t seem to exist a solution to give people a hand up from it. And then I began my second year as an AmeriCorps National member with Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat has an amazing reputation for giving people a hand up out of poverty. It has been proven that with an affordable and decent place to live, families can invest in things like their education and health. They can spend more time together and develop a sense of confidence. Habitat has developed a sustainable model for housing that works just as well here in Seminole County and Greater Apopka as it does in Chicago, Illinois or Chitwan, Nepal. Their reciprocal and adaptable model is what originally attracted me to the organization and it’s what has made my last year of service so impactful.
During these last ten months, I have fallen in love with Habitat for Humanity's mission and the communities we serve. I am coming away from this term of service with a wealth of knowledge in volunteer management, construction, and a better idea of the issues our homebuyer partners face. I'm also coming away knowing that I have helped 15 families, mobilized close to 800 volunteers (increasing our volunteer engagement by 52 % in the five months I managed that program) and worked to revitalize two communities.
While my time as an AmeriCorps member has ended, my time with Habitat for Humanity is only beginning. I have happily accepted a full-time position as the Community Outreach Coordinator with this affiliate! I will be managing our volunteer program and working to further develop our Neighborhood Revitalization program. I’m excited for the opportunity to expand on what I’ve been able to accomplish these last ten months and can't wait to continue to work side-by-side with this community to build a better future for local families.