Post by Kristal Sawatzke and Blake MacKenzie, Twin Cities Habitat Staff
March 8-14, 2020, is National AmeriCorps Week! Here at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, AmeriCorps Members are the backbone of our mission, creating excellent volunteer experiences while getting things done for Habitat. Ask a few AmeriCorps Members their reasons for joining the team, and you'll hear a bunch of awesome stories. We've selected the top five reasons here.
1. The perks
Let’s clear this up right off the bat: serving your community through AmeriCorps doesn’t mean volunteering for free. Through a living allowance and other benefits, most people can make a year or two of service work for them without taking on additional jobs, getting outside help, or going into debt (although you’re certainly allowed to have a part-time job). Here are a few of the perks:
- Living allowance is $15,000 for one year of service ($3,350 for one summer)
- Segal Education award can be applied to student loans and/or future education, and is approximately $6,095 for one year of service (approximately $1,566 for one summer)
- Housing options are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for 10 AmeriCorps members in the Habitat-owned fourplex for $200/month
- Habitat vehicles are provided to most field-based AmeriCorps members
- Clothing/tool allowances ($200 for full year, $100 for summer) and cell phone allowances ($35/month) are provided
- FREE health insurance is available if you need it, and childcare reimbursement may be available
- AmeriCorps members are eligible for government benefits, such as SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and loans can be put into forbearance while serving
2. The camaraderie
AmeriCorps members are a diverse group of folks that hail from Minnesota and all across the country. But one thing they have in common is their passion for service and civic engagement. And when you get like-minded people like that together for a year or a summer, you’re bound to see some long-lasting friendships form. The Twin Cities Habitat Family is fun-loving and welcoming, and AmeriCorps members fit right into the mix. (There’s been more than a few AmeriCorps marriages, too—just saying.)
3. The skills
Regardless of where you are at, the program focuses on your personal and professional development. AmeriCorps members have different motivations for serving and bring different experiences to the table. No specialized experience is necessary to join the AmeriCorps team. Members receive ongoing training, whether their position is in the office or in the field, and each AmeriCorps member is paired with a Site Supervisor so they are able to move at their own pace. There have been plenty of AmeriCorps Members who went on to careers in construction, architecture, non-profit management, or on to graduate school. No matter what field you go into, the skills of teaching volunteers, coupled with the name recognition of AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity, will take you far. Plus, how many people can say they built a home from the ground up?
4. The mission
The mission drives everyone at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, including the AmeriCorps members. You see it at a build site where volunteers raise walls alongside the people who will one day buy that Habitat home. Or at a home celebration, where volunteers, sponsors, staff, friends, and family come together to celebrate a homebuyer’s journey to homeownership. When you ask staff about the culture of Habitat, their first response is that we are mission-driven: eliminating poverty housing from the Twin Cities and making decent, affordable shelter for all people a matter of conscience is what we do on a daily basis!
5. The network
Every year, more than 80,000 people serve in AmeriCorps and are tackling some of the biggest issues in the United States! From focusing on affordable housing to education to the opioid crisis, AmeriCorps members get things done. When applying for future employment or education opportunities, having AmeriCorps listed on your resume is a huge benefit. It speaks to your character, passion, and dedication. And you never know who is reading through your resume – perhaps they were an AmeriCorps member too! Serving in AmeriCorps is also a great way to learn the ins and outs of working at a nonprofit. More than 30% of Twin Cities Habitat staff served in AmeriCorps, so it is a fantastic way of getting your foot in the door!
You can do anything for a year. Why not serve your community?
We're currently recruiting for summer AmeriCorps terms beginning May 27, 2020, and full-year AmeriCorps terms beginning early fall 2020. Most positions are facilitating volunteers in the field, but a few office positions are available as well. Visit our AmeriCorps page for more info, or email AmeriCorpsProgram@tchabitat.org with any questions.