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Erika's AmeriCorps Experience with Habitat Denver

Nov. 10, 2016

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“Before moving to Denver to begin my term as an AmeriCorps, I had embarrassingly basic idea of what I was getting myself into: I understood the general need for affordable housing; production is based on volunteers and donors; I would be getting some construction experience; and Jimmy Carter was involved somehow.

Considering everything I've learned over the past 11 months, I can say I was clueless. Like most familiar with the mission of Habitat, I was quick to focus on the impact to the families alone. Early in the experience however, I learned that the homeowners were really just one part of the story. It is an amazing feeling, knowing that you've had some part in giving a family a home or improving a place that has been loved for years, but what blew my mind was the impact Habitat has on the community beyond the property.

About a month into working with Habitat, I was wrapping up the build site for the day and a young volunteer said to the group with a big smile, “This has seriously been the best day of my life.”

I laughed, “Surely you've had other 'best days.'” 

“But really,” she said in a serious tone. This volunteer continued to say how inspiring it was to work with women who enjoy and know how to do this work, and how excited she was to have had this experience for the first time. 

It wasn't until this moment I realized the weight of our position. We were there for the families, yes, but at the heart of it, these home builds acted as a place for those who want to contribute to something beyond themselves.

 As I moved forward with my term, the focus became more about the individual volunteer's experience and their role in connecting an entire community. As an AmeriCorps participant, it has been an honor and a joy to have served in Denver, and I'm grateful for every part of my experience."

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