Each year, we thank our lucky stars for the talented and dedicated AmeriCorps members who serve with our organization for a 10-month term. Habitat benefits from the hard work and dedication they demonstrate in carrying out our mission. In this blog we flip the table and ask how Habitat benefitted them, from personal discovery to professional growth. (See open AmeriCorps positions at end of article!)
In a way, it was natural disaster that first inspired Rob to seek service opportunities through AmeriCorps. He had been volunteering with Team Rubicon to tear down homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, and he found that housing was something that resonated with him.
“Growing up, I never realized how lucky I was to have a roof over my head, but it’s one of the most basic needs that people have,” he said. “And I was at a point in my life where I wanted to directly help others who, for one reason or another, couldn’t help themselves.”
Rob became a construction crew leader at Lancaster Lebanon Habitat, and in this role, attained new building skills, built relationships with future homebuyers and volunteers, and saw first hand how his hard work paid off when it comes to creating affordable, decent homeownership opportunities.
After completing his tenure with Habitat in 2019, Rob was later hired by Clark Associates in Lancaster as a vendor analyst. He believes his AmeriCorps experience enriched his qualifications and gave him valuable talking points to share with potential employers.
But perhaps one of the biggest takeaways Rob gained from his Habitat experience was an understanding of his passion to help others.
“There is value to be drawn from work other than just your paycheck,” he said simply. “If you decide AmeriCorps is for you, it will be 100% worth it.”
Morgan, who served with us over the 2017/18 service year, is now working with the Central PA Food Bank and acknowledges that she probably wouldn’t have her current job if it weren’t for her AmeriCorps experience.
“Working at Habitat after college gave me an inside look at working for a nonprofit,” she explained. “And I hadn’t a lot of experience working in an office. In a sense, I got to try it out.”
Her experience and the connections she made in her role with family services at Habitat led to her current job at the Food Bank and working with youth programming.
Her decision to apply for AmeriCorps came from a need to fill her time constructively while she considered further education after graduating from Pitt. To Morgan, a service term with AmeriCorps was an excellent gap year.
“It can be both a rewarding and tough year,” she said. “Just like any job, you’ll have good days, followed by challenging ones. But you always know that you’re doing a good thing.”
“Housing was Habitat’s fault,” laughed Rhiannon. Our former AmeriCorps service member was speaking of how she landed in a position processing home grants. “Habitat opened my eyes to all of the issues surrounding housing. Before that, I only understood it as a homelessness issue.”
Rhiannon works as an economic development analyst for PA’s department of community and economic development. She enlisted for two years of AmeriCorps service because she felt the experiences she would gain would be more valuable to her professional development than the type of work she’d get through an entry-level position in her intended field, which included government, nonprofit and high education work.
In the process of serving with Habitat through family services, Rhiannon discovered that she had a keen interest in housing issues, as well as a knack for connecting with people. Her interactions with Habitat homeowners and the surrounding community boosted her confidence.
Our organization is currently hiring for 5 AmeriCorps positions in the areas of volunteering, family services and construction. To read the full job descriptions, follow this link.