Why I Served with AmeriCorps by Melinda Platt, AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader
My first interaction with Habitat for Humanity was in the summer of 2015, when I was spending three months in the Bay Area. I’d heard about the Muir Ridge site through my uncle, a regular volunteer with HEBSV, and I seized the opportunity to volunteer. I’d always been interested in volunteering on site. Despite spending my first site day working on the roof trusses three stories off the ground – and discovering my fear of heights (yikes!) – I was hooked. I continued to volunteer that summer, and worked daily with the AmeriCorps members, whose positive influence started to persuade me that maybe a year of service would be a perfect fit for me.
My ultimate motivation for doing a year of service with Habitat for Humanity through AmeriCorps was the personal experience of being on the side of the low-income homeowners growing up. My family struggled to find affordable housing, so I understand the stresses that the lack of a stable, safe living condition can bring. So when I was provided with the opportunity to help others get out of that situation, I jumped at the chance.
The most defining moment of my service was the first time I framed and raised the first wall of a home with other volunteers and the homeowner. We all worked together to raise the wall into place, and afterward everyone cheered and hugged each other. The homeowner even started to tear up. It was in that moment that I fully felt the impact of the work the construction crew leaders do at Habitat.
Construction crew leaders do not just learn the carpentry skills behind building a house, or lead groups of volunteers to complete a day’s task. Over the course of 11 months, we work directly with the homeowners in building their own homes. And what we help provide is so much more than a house. It is the place that a family will sleep safely at night, where they will have breakfast and dinner together, where their children will play. It is where a family will make memories. It is where a family will spend their lives together. Having a safe, affordable place to live also affords the peace of mind and ability to focus on the important things in life that come when you no longer have to worry about how you’re going to afford rent, or whether your family is safe in the house that you’re living in.
I think that not only is the experience you gain through serving invaluable, the experiences you have with fellow AmeriCorps members, as well as the homeowners, are priceless. So if you’re between jobs, taking time off of education, or just looking for a way to give back to the community, a year as an AmeriCorps member with Habitat would be the perfect way to spend your time!"