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AmeriCorps Week – March 11-17, 2018

History

The Corporation for National and Community Service was established as a federal agency in 1993 and AmeriCorps is one of its signature programs.Since the program’s inception in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.4 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. AmeriCorps can be described as a “stay at home version” of the Peace Corps.

Habitat for Humanity was one of the first organizations to partner with AmeriCorps 24 years ago. They placed 122 individuals in five locations to support Habitat’s work. Now, more than 500 AmeriCorps members serve with Habitat throughout the United States every year. With AmeriCorps members, we are able to serve nine more families per year and engage 70 percent more volunteers.

“Working with AmeriCorps is a great way to serve your country and community in an amazing way,” states Habitat for Humanity Greater Cincinnati’s AmeriCorps Team Coordinator, Megan Golike, who is originally from Colorado. She recently finished her 10.5-month term with AmeriCorps and was offered a full-time position with Habitat in January 2018. During her term with AmeriCorps, she completed 1,700 hours of service working on several housing projects in Cincinnati.

Community Equity

One of the most important aspects of her job is building trust and raising awareness about social issues in the community. “When AmeriCorps members go above and beyond their duties, it builds trust with the homeowners, especially if they understand that we are full-time volunteers. People see us on home sites every day, and they know we are committed and want to be present.” While working for AmeriCorps, members only receive a small living stipend and work and act as volunteers. Megan talked about how she experienced what many families in the community face which is the frightening thought of “how am I going to make rent this month?” The ability to relate to the individuals that she worked within the community brought a sense of solidarity to all of them.

Megan recalls working in Latonia Lakes where they rehabbed three houses next to each other. She was so amazed that many families had multiple jobs but still made time to help out, and sometimes would even bring them lunch. Megan remembers that “it was such a neat relationship where we both helped each other out and grew together.” Working together, side by side promotes understanding and self-reliance.

AmeriCorps members take pride in the work they put into houses, and they are not afraid to dig in, get dirty, and lift others up. One of the current Habitat rehab projects is a beautiful historic house in Newport. They’ve all had a hand in building and remodeling this house and invested so much of themselves through hard work along the way. Although the house is not completed yet, many of the AmeriCorps members are already making plans to come back to the dedication. This is an event Habitat hosts after the completion of a house, allowing the community to gather in support and celebration of the future homeowners.

What’s Next to Come?

Every year, Habitat AmeriCorps members and alumni have an opportunity to participate in an event called Build-a-Thon.

They travel to a select city to meet the need for decent and affordable housing in a community to help it thrive. Last year, six team members from Cincinnati traveled to Iowa for this week-long intensive house-building blitz. This year, they will travel to Raleigh, NC to build strong and stable homes and support the community.

“We are so incredibly blessed to have a continued partnership with AmeriCorps. They are our secret weapon. Our AmeriCorps provide us a consistent source of construction labor and onsite volunteer leadership. It would be impossible to build as many homes as we do each year without their help,” said Ed Lee, HFHGC President/CEO.

Honoring AmeriCorps This Week

AmeriCorps Week is a celebration of all things AmeriCorps, from the programs and organizations that make this national service initiative possible in thousands of locations across the country, to the members who have committed to “get things done” since the program’s inception in 1994. Just this past year, AmeriCorps members with Habitat served more than 900,000 hours across the United States. That’s a lot to celebrate!

 

 

How Do I Get Involved?

Anyone over the age of 18 with a high school education or GED can apply to be a team member for AmeriCorps. Most fall in love with Habitat and after their term is completed, they are looking for ways to stay. Habitat is so great at helping AmeriCorps members find the next step, and are willing be an excellent source of reference to help them make the best decision possible.

If you are interested in becoming an AmeriCorps team member, please contact Megan Golike, AmeriCorps Team Coordinator at megan.golike@habitatcincinnati.org or 513-482-5645.