What AmeriCorps Means to Me

by Olivia Hunt

Olivia

AmeriCorps was feeling nervous on that first day, still not sure of what was in store.
AmeriCorps was making connections to a community like I had never done before.
This meant seeing the best, the worst, and everything in between.
AmeriCorps was feeling frustrated and exhausted until you walked into a room and heard 30 kids yell “Miss Olivia!!!” at the same time.

AmeriCorps was celebrating when an event went well, and sitting at home eating ice cream when no one showed up.

AmeriCorps was telling kids something small about myself only for them to ask me about it a few weeks later and realizing how much they looked up to me.

AmeriCorps was a roller coaster of new things, new people, and learning so much about myself.

AmeriCorps was listening to a kid tell me about the volcanoes on Mars for 30 straight minutes and wondering which was happening more: was I teaching them or were they teaching me?

AmeriCorps was loving, learning, laughing, and memories I will never forget.
AmeriCorps was rewarding, and terrible, and awesome.

AmeriCorps was 60 hour weeks full of planning, moving stuff, setting up, an working until 11 pm to clean up an event that only lasted an hour and a half.
AmeriCorps was coming in the next Monday to find emails and notes about how well the event went and how much everyone enjoyed it.
AmeriCorps means I don’t regret the student loans for my Master’s Degree. Plus, in the future, when my kids complain, I can tell them I lived on less than $1000 per month and still paid my rent and all my bills on time.

AmeriCorps means a connection with all other AmeriCorps alumni. And connections to jobs in the future.
AmeriCorps was an experience unlike any other that truly prepared me for my future career.

AmeriCorps was strangers that became friends,
a community center that became my home,
kids that became my inspiration,
and an experience that changed my life for the better.

Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build

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It was a warm, early May, morning. The sun beat down as the AmeriCorps members started the exterior framing on a house in Deer Park with Habitat for Humanity Spokane’s Women Build.

Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week is a weeklong event, [where] women devote at least one day to the effort to eliminate poverty housing (http://www. habitat. org/wb/national_women_build_ week.aspx).

AmeriCorps members Royann LaSarte, Heather Ramsey, and Alex VanderHouwen went out to Deer Park, WA to participate in the Spokane Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week. They framed the windows and doors and then applied the insulating foam sheets they would be applying as a means to maintain the highest level of energy conservation during extreme weather conditions.

During this experience, they met two of the future homeowners. Homeowners are required to put in ‘sweat equity toward their own homes which is a requirement to gain a home through Habitat. One of them was nearly done with her hours.

Once the framing was done, Heather, Royann, and Alex started the more difficult task of sizing the foam pads.

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“This was extremely difficult. The wind had picked up and was trying to take these giant sheets right out of our hands.” Alex recalled, “Once we got the hang of how to cut them to size and shape, we set them up and nailed them on.”

The house is not complete, but AmeriCorps helped a family toward a new home.

Written by Alex VanderHouwen, AmeriCorps

Rebuilding Together Spokane – April 25th, 2015

BECU, with AmeriCorps members Fauniel Delacruz and Doug Polk, painted and landscaped one home. Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, with numerous other local vendors, sponsors, and AmeriCorps members Taylor Stalcup, Allen Hacking, Britain Webb, Heather Ramsey and Royann LaSarte, tore down a burned out garage, removed a burned deck, fixed the water damaged basement, removed a tall dead tree from the front yard and did general landscaping for a homeowner who was mostly bedridden.

BECU with AmeriCorps members Fauniel Delacruz and Doug Polk painted and landscaped one home. Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, with numerous other local vendors, sponsors, and AmeriCorps members Taylor Stalcup, Allen Hacking, Britain Webb, Heather Ramsey, and Royann LaSarte tore down a burned out garage, removed a burned deck, fixed the water damaged basement, removed a tall dead tree, from the front yard, and did general landscaping for a homeowner who was mostly bedridden.

National Rebuilding Day happens on the last Saturday in April every year. Volunteers of all skill sets come together and assist homeowners who are low-income, elderly, disabled, and/or veterans who can not afford or just physically can not fix up their homes.

First Presbyterian Church volunteers and AmeriCorps member Mary Katherine Rust replaced two windows and two doors, and cleared out a host of items that had built up in this disabled veteran’s home. They also did painted a bathroom and craft room. Skilled volunteers performed electrical and plumbing work in advance of Rebuild Day. The homeowner no longer needed extension cords throughout her house, and she didn’t need to shut off the water main every time she wasn’t using water.

Thanks to a local dog groomer, two of her dogs were taken for some sprucing up as well. AmeriCorps member MaryKate said her time at the home was

“Really cool. I hadn’t done any kind of volunteering before. This was completely different. I felt like I was making a real impact on her life. When I walked in, she seemed really overwhelmed. It was so worth it in the end.”

Rebuilding Together Spokane ended their National Rebuilding Day with one house complete and two that were near completion with some follow up work. Overall, their impact was seen and felt.

One homeowner’s son said “You guys just solved like three weekly arguments between my siblings, uncles and my dad. Not to mention, the independence it represented for my mom.” Rebuilding Together Spokane will continue to help those in need so they can remain in their homes for longer and more independently.

Written by Alex VanderHouwen,
AmeriCorps

Camp Gifford Ropes Course February 2015

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The thrill, danger and adrenaline coursed through veins at Salvation Army’s Camp Gifford Ropes Course.

Prior to the excitement of the ropes course, the YouthBuild crew participated in teambuilding activities, including the Name Toss where students passed around a stuffed giraffe. It became more complicated when a stuffed monkey was added to the mix and the original pattern of the giraffe toss had to be followed without the stuffed creatures hitting the ground. If either stuffed animal fell, the game had to restart. Of the team building activities, Alex VanderHouwen, AmeriCorps member, said

“…interesting. I had never thought of making a name memorization game into a team building activity.”

After teambuilding activities were completed, the long awaited ropes course was introduced. Many were exuberant about the opportunity while a few were apprehensive.

Andrew Nelson, a Spokane Service Team member, found the ropes course to be

“…exhilarating. It was worthwhile and fun.”

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He also learned that some of his teammates were not as into the highflying fun as he was.