Hi! I’m Miranda, and I’m an AmeriCorps member serving in my second term, this time on site as a construction Crew Leader – I spent my first term behind the scenes as a Volunteer Coordinator. Three are a lot of benefits of being an AmeriCorps. For me, my roles allowed me to see how crucial work gets done at Habitat. It’s been exciting to have the opportunity to experience the organization through different lenses.
A DAY AS A VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR
As a Volunteer Coordinator, each day would usually start by going through my inbox. I fielded questions by email and phone calls throughout the day from folks in the community who were interested in volunteering. High school students would inquire to see if we were a good organization to complete their volunteer hours with, new retirees would call looking to become Regular Volunteers , or people contacted us to schedule a volunteer day on one of our sites with their group. My job was to direct all these different people to the information and resources they needed. Along the way I would also work in tandem with other office folks, like our Corporate Engagement Coordinators who typically work with teams of work colleagues who want to come out and volunteer together.
Another major part of being a Volunteer Coordinator was collecting data on our wide and diverse volunteer base. It scratched my organizational itch to get to put together projections for how many volunteers would be out on site each week, or gathering data on how many groups we had each month.
Often throughout the day, I’d be in meetings with members of the Development and Communications team to check in on upcoming big in-person events like Beloved Community and Cycle of Hope, and talk about how I could pitch in or help. I got to wear a lot of different hats in those roles, from brainstorming and contacting people to speak at Beloved Community to being the liaison for groups signed up to ride Cycle of Hope.
A DAY AS A CREW LEADER ON SITE
This year, my time on site as an AmeriCorps Crew Leader has brought lots of new and invigorating challenges and skills to be learned. A typical day on site starts bright and early as we prepare for the volunteer crew out that day. I can be at any number of our work sites across our three-county service area – Alameda, Santa Clara, and Contra Costa —but lately, I’ve been out at our site in Walnut Creek: Esperanza Place. What will one day be 42 townhomes now consists of four half-constructed buildings wedged next to the Iron Horse Trail and steps from the Pleasant Hill BART station.
Before volunteers get to site, each of the Crew Leaders goes over the tasks they’ve been assigned for the day and collects the necessary tools. Sometimes this consists of merely hammers and nails, but sometimes it means getting saws and power out to some location on site, and a variety of hand tools for volunteers to work with. As volunteers start to trickle in, we greet them and get them set up with the safety equipment. Once everyone arrives, we do a quick introduction to Habitat’s work and talk about how to proceed safely on-site and ensure that everyone has a safe volunteer day.
The tasks of each day vary depending on what part of the building process we’re in. Some of my favorite tasks so far have been roofing and pouring concrete. One of my favorite parts of working on site is how there’s always a new challenge. It’s never a boring day on site because I’m always learning a new building technique or learning and refining how to teach that technique to folks, some of whom may have never so much as held a hammer.
Each AmeriCorps position I’ve held has been very different. While a Volunteer Coordinator, I got to see the inner workings of Habitat as an organization and how it runs from construction and site management to fundraising to scheduling volunteers to come to site. As a Crew Leader, I’ve had the opportunity to get the meet all the people I organized behind the scenes last year and walk people through their first time learning construction skills or volunteering with us. Both have been great opportunities to give a piece of myself to this organization.