AmeriCorps members are dedicated to strengthening communities. AmeriCorps is a National Service Program that builds leaders while addressing critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, preparing for disasters, and more.
AmeriCorps members serve full-time helping families build strong and stable homes, all while gaining real-world experience. AmeriCorps members serve in leadership roles on an active build site and at a local Habitat affiliate assisting families, volunteers and staff.
Claire didn’t always envision this path for her life.
Like many young adults, Claire was struggling to find meaningful, full-time work. But learning about Habitat AmeriCorps marked a turning point in her search and her future.
AmeriCorps offered her an alternate route, where her talents and energies could be community-oriented instead of corporate-oriented. She sees so many problems in the world and doesn’t just want to talk about how sad it is what people are going through in different parts of the world. She is compelled to do something about it.
“There’s too much going on just to sit idly by,” said Claire. That’s what made her want to join AmeriCorps, and lead her team right here at Habitat Tucson.
Her AmeriCorps team members, Sarah Lehman and Joseph Wiley, couldn’t agree more.
“I want to work at a place with a mission and values that I truly believe it.” said Sarah, who is taking a gap year before pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology.
Joseph, who is currently pursuing his degree in music and emergency management, feels like AmeriCorps is exactly what he needed to be doing right now. “It’s preparing me in ways I never thought before,” said Joseph. “I was thinking, like, in AmeriCorps maybe I’ll do disaster relief, and maybe I’ll get some muscles or something. But I’m learning a lot of things about myself – leadership skills and organization skills, things I wasn’t really paying attention to in school. I’m learning what I’m good at.”
Something AmeriCorps team members Claire, Sarah, and Joeseph have in common is their background in giving back to their communities. “I grew up in a house that really valued and stressed service,” said Sarah. “When you come from a place of privilege, you need to use your voice and give back to those who are less fortunate.”
“It makes a lot of sense to me to help people,” added Joseph. “That’s where I find I’m sort of at my best – when I’m helping others, without expecting anything else in return.”
For their six weeks with Habitat, Americorps team leader Claire has spearheaded their projects in the Tucson community, from painting and landscaping to replacing broken gutters in nearby neighborhoods.
The team helped install a garden with Literacy Connects, completed neighborhood beautification projects and built along-side the families that would be moving into Habitat homes.
They completed surveys in a distressed neighborhood and partnered with the Tucson Fire Department and Tucson Police to hand out toys and children’s activities with Santa during the holidays in that same neighborhood.
“For us what’s special about Habitat – this is our first project,” says AmeriCorps team leader Claire. “This is our first experience with AmeriCorps. It’s been incredible.”
One of their biggest take-aways has been their conversations with Habitat Tucson’s CEO, T. VanHook, during her Leadership Seminar. T. emphasized the importance of building meaningful relationships and being your authentic self. They talked about remembering ‘who packs your parachute’ – thinking about who affects your day, the support you have behind you, and who’s got your back. Claire, Joseph, and Sarah took away from that seminar that everything you do has an impact on others. That your actions and choices and kindnesses ripple outwards.
“It was very influential because my biggest thing is talking to people – I think the biggest way to grow is by engaging with a new person,” said Claire. “You change every day if you allow yourself to change.”