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Posted by Patrick Dunn on 1:30 PM on December 6, 2013

The National and Community Trust Act of 1993 brought the AmeriCorps program to the forefront in the United States. AmeriCorps members serve for nonprofits, community organizations and public agencies in the fields of education, public safety, health care, and environmental protection.

Currently, Twin Cities Habitat has 29 AmeriCorps members helping with everything from leading construction volunteers, to Veterans outreach, to family selection.

Catching up with Two Former Members

Betsy, former Americorps memberBetsy Starkson – AmeriCorps 2004-2006
Currently: Project Manager Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

How many different positions have you held here at Habitat?

I served as an AmeriCorps construction assistant for 2 years, a site supervisor for 4 years, managed the AmeriCorps program at TCHFH for 2 years and have been a Project Manager for the last year and a half.

What’s the best part about your current role as Project Manager?
I like project management because I still feel connected to the work that is being done on site. I try to see my job as doing whatever I can to make the site supervisors’ jobs easier and the work days on site more productive. I miss the daily interaction with volunteers and homebuyers, but feel lucky to still be involved in such a powerful mission.

What advice do you have for current members?
Be open to taking in everything that you can from your position. I learned about building houses in AmeriCorps, but more importantly I learned a lot about myself and about relating to all different kinds of people. It was a transformative time for me that helped me to see clearly my priorities in life.

Westlund BlogDan Westlund – AmeriCorps 2006-2008
Currently: Deputy Sheriff Ramsey County

How did your years of service help you in your current career?
I’ve learned how the ‘other side’ lives. Growing up in Northfield, Minnesota you knew about poverty and those with less than adequate housing, but it was more of a textbook understanding of the subject. We had poverty and poor housing in areas of Northfield, but not to the scale that exists in the Metro Area. 

How have you spent your time post-AmeriCorps?
I ended up going back to school for law enforcement (an interest I’ve always held) and started working at a halfway house in Minneapolis. The school and the job went hand in hand.
I was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Ramsey County in the fall of 2012 and love the work I do. I spend my working days trying to get better at my profession. Outside of work I volunteer for the Sheriff's Office in various aspects throughout the County.

How did you survive on the limited living allowance?
Extreme discipline in my spending habits. This really speaks to learning how the “other half” lives that is part of the AmeriCorps experience. I tracked every penny (literally) I spent over my two years with AmeriCorps. I used an excel spreadsheet that allowed me to know exactly how much I had to spend every month. I also didn't have a car at that time (I biked most places), and I made sure to hoard what I could from site feasts whenever those occurred.


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Tags: Volunteer Spotlight, Archive

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