AmeriCorps Highlight: Andrea
Andrea has one of those hearts that is always, always giving.
She first started volunteering when she was 10 years old, helping the elderly with her aunt, a nursing assistant. She continued volunteering with her aunt well into high school – and that’s when she felt the urge to help others deepen.
“At the Salvation Army, I would ring bells. I continued helping in the nursing home. I tried the animal shelter, but I cried too much,” Andrea said. But that wasn’t all. Andrea found herself compelled to help people in need. She knew that if she were in their shoes, she would want someone to reach out to her.
And to Andrea, no act is too small. “It might be like a small little impact, but even the smallest little impact grows into a bigger one. It might take time, it might take years, but it does grow.”
She’s served at Habitat Tucson through AmeriCorps for two years now, and still finds time to volunteer at the Asylum Clinic and community garden – on top of working full time and completing a master’s degree at the University of Arizona in International Security.
“I’ve always loved volunteering,” she said, smiling.
That’s what drew her to Habitat. “I just started volunteering, because I was still looking for a job when I moved here. I had never even heard of AmeriCorps before,” Andrea said. But after a few weeks volunteering, she was pulled aside by the construction team and told about the AmeriCorps position. “It happened so quickly! And I don’t think I’ve ever had a day where I wasn’t happy to be here.”
For the past two years she’s served the construction crew through AmeriCorps, and now the Habitat construction team feels like extended family.
“I just really love how in construction we really all work as a team,” said Andrea. “If for some reason I’m unsure of something or if I feel I need a little help, they’re all there to help me. No questions asked.”
Andrea had her first foray in construction as a kid, following along as her father worked on cars and the family home. “We did a little stucco work, put tile on the floor, painted the inside of the home, learned how to pour concrete in the back, helped my dad build a sandbox,” Andrea laughed, remembering.
Now, she’s loved the chance to really sharpen her construction skills with her Habitat team. “I got really, really lucky with the people that I worked with,” Andrea said. “They are really supportive – it’s why I chose to do AmeriCorps for a second year. I love working with them, and I’m going to miss them so much.”
Andrea also treasures the connections she’s made with Habitat homebuyers and the homeowners she’s met through A Brush With Kindness and Critical Home Repair projects. “They’re the sweetest human beings. They always make me feel like I’m talking to an aunt or a cousin,” Andrea said. “I see everyone here as my extended family.”
Recently, Andrea went on a home visit and was reminded again of why she loves this work.
“We were tearing up when she was telling us how thankful she was – she is here by herself, she doesn’t have any family, she had surgeries on her feet and her knees… When we told her we might be able to move forward, and repair and paint her home, she just started crying. We got in the truck and kind of just cried a little bit too – they were happy tears because we were actually able to help.”
That’s what Andrea has loved about her time in AmeriCorps at Habitat Tucson. That passion, that communal spirit. “You’re never going to feel like no one has your back,” Andrea said. “Even if you make a mistake, you and your team will figure out a way to fix it. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed.”
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.