Brady served as the Volunteer Coordinator during his term, building and maintaining the volunteer base for various Habitat projects. Through his experience at Bethel University, he knew he wanted to get involved with a nonprofit in some capacity, but he also wanted to gain experience with a social justice issue he wasn’t as familiar with. He found AmeriCorps to be a great chance to learn more about affordable housing with a well-established and well-respected organization in the Twin Cities.
His team was a great resource as he learned all about his new role from home, working virtually due to the effects of the pandemic. Despite the distance, Brady still felt connected to his team and Habitat’s mission, and thinks that Habitat does a great job of making AmeriCorps members feel involved.
Along with learning just how many programs Habitat has to serve the community, including A Brush With Kindness and the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program, Brady made some impacts of his own. One that stood out was his work on the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP). Brady said “I would consider the biggest accomplishment of my term was helping recruit, select, train, and support CHAP volunteers. These volunteers specifically helped process applications that supported homeowners receiving CHAP funding during the COVID-19 crisis. It was amazing to see volunteers’ dedication to homeowners. And because of their time many families received funding to stay in their homes during the pandemic.”
By the end of the year, Brady had developed several new skills, including data tracking, project management, and team development. He also had the opportunity to co-lead a professional development training for his team!
That wasn’t the only thing he took away from his time serving this year: “AmeriCorps gave me many tactical skills, but also a better understanding of the issue of housing affordability and how I can continue to advocate for it even after my time with Habitat.”
All in all, would Brady recommend serving a year with AmeriCorps?
“Yes, I would 100% recommend serving with Habitat. Being a member, you learn so much about housing and gain lots of professional development. A year of service is a wonderful way to get involved in your community and help create lasting change in the Twin Cities.”
Hannah’s AmeriCorps experience started with the goal of working with the Peace Corps last year. However, due to the spread of COVID-19, many of Peace Corps’ operations were suspended, and Hannah started to look for something closer to home. Serving in her own community seemed like the best next step, so she started searching ServeMN’s website to find openings. When she saw the Construction Volunteer Facilitator role with Twin Cities Habitat, it seemed like a perfect fit, as she already had experience from working with her father, who was a carpenter.
During her service term, Hannah enjoyed meeting all the different volunteers and building relationships with Regular Crew Volunteers who visited for multiple days. She helped many different volunteers feel comfortable and safe as they explored building skills in an environment they may not have been familiar with.
With the help of those volunteers, as well as many others, Hannah was able to assist with all the parts of a twin home build, seeing the project through to completion. She considers it one of the greatest accomplishments of her service term. She said, “I learned that there is no insignificant job on the work-site. Whether someone is making mulch paths or lifting walls, everyone is contributing to the successful completion of the home and making the goals of Habitat a reality.”
When she first started, Hannah was a longtime renter in the Twin Cities and didn’t think that homeownership was much of a possibility. But by the time she left, her view had changed. “Having worked with Habitat and seen the quality of the homes and the way their program and financing works, I am leaving more encouraged that there are many people passionate about changing the course of housing in the Twin Cities.”
Looking back on her service term, Hannah has fond memories of working with her site supervisor and other AmeriCorps member on her site, as well as times when staff and the AmeriCorps cohort came out to build with them. Those memories, and others, will surely stick with her for years to come.
When asked if others should consider a year of service, her answer was a resounding yes.
“I would recommend a year of service through Habitat not only because of their mission but because of the professional development they provide along with the on-site service. You’ll have opportunities to learn career and life skills through tailored Corps Days that are unrelated to the construction field, as well as opportunities to gain confidence and skills to become a future homeowner yourself. The staff is very supportive, respectful, and positive. I am proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to build up my local community alongside others who live here.”